January 29, 2009

Bitumen companies go wireless to monitor production facilities


Bitumen often poses storage and handling problems. Here, Sean Ottewell reports on two Australian companies who are tackling these by turning to wireless communication solutions.

BP Bitumen operates its Australian bitumen facilities in Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia. Bulwer Island near Brisbane is the largest production facility with sales of 200 000 t/y. Products include paving grade bitumens, multigrade and a wide range of polymer-modified binders (PMBs).

The products are manufactured using purpose built equipment to rigorous quality and control standards and are designed to have better strength and durability than standard bitumens to deliver longer lasting roads.

Now the company has successfully overcome a fuel supply outage at the site by using Smart Wireless technology from Emerson Process Management.

Wireless instruments normally monitor the pipeline integrity of transfer lines from the nearby BP refinery and report exceptional conditions to control room operators via the easy-to-use self-organising wireless network. The wireless solution showed its flexibility recently when two wireless transmitters were quickly deployed to manage fuel delivery from temporary LPG tanks rushed into service during a refinery shutdown of the regular fuel system.

Officials at BP Bitumen seized upon Smart Wireless as a cost-effective and reliable method of monitoring the temporary fuel gas supply system (Fig. 1).

The plant normally fires natural gas in a heater to maintain a hot oil network at 280°C. All plant bitumen lines have hot oil tracing to keep the viscous product flowing. Even a temporary interruption to the supply of fuel to the heater can adversely effect operations because if the heater shuts down, the plant cools very quickly. If the plant goes completely cold, it can take three to four days to restart.

The cost of sourcing replacement product to meet existing contracts could be as much as AS$150 000 for a fuel outage of one week's duration. For this reason, a close visual watch had to be maintained on the temporary LPG supply to monitor it 24 hours per day. The Smart Wireless solution was implemented to monitor the transfer lines in May 2008, and fuel monitoring was put into service shortly thereafter.

The Smart Wireless field network solution included two Rosemount wireless pressure transmitters that were installed to monitor the fuel delivery from the LPG tanks. With relatively little time to prepare for the natural gas outage, it was not possible to size the temporary LPG system for the maximum firing capacity of the hot oil heater. Without careful monitoring, the heater's burner control system could call for more gas than was available, sucking the fuel line dry and tripping the heater.

However, with the wireless pressure transmitters in place, the burner control system could monitor the LPG supply pressure and avoid the trip scenario. The wireless monitoring of the LPG fuel delivery kept the bitumen plant running, saving the company AS$20 000 per day in lost production. The wireless solution also provided safe remote oversight of the fuel supply instead of continuous operator monitoring at the LPG facility. The plant operated successfully in this way for the duration of the week-long outage.

In addition to the fuel monitoring, three Rosemount wireless temperature transmitters are placed along the plant's bitumen transfer lines to monitor flow of the hot (170°C) bitumen. These instruments transmit status continuously, allowing immediate action if needed to maintain the flow of bitumen to the plant.

"This wireless network monitors pipeline integrity, helping to ensure that no issues go unnoticed for any length of time," according to Matthew James, operations manager at the BP Bitumen facility. "If we had not had the wireless installations, we could not have reacted so quickly to the fuel outage and that could have shut us down for over a week. As a tool to help troubleshoot unusual process conditions anywhere on the plant, they're indispensable."

Each field device in Emerson's self-organising wireless technology acts as a router for other nearby devices, retransmitting messages until they reach the network's Smart Wireless Gateway, which channels the incoming data to a control point. If there is an obstruction, transmissions are simply re-routed along the mesh network until a clear path to the gateway is found. As conditions change or new obstacles are encountered in a plant, such as temporary scaffolding, new equipment, or a parked construction trailer, these wireless networks simply reorganise and find a way to deliver their messages.

All of this happens automatically, without any involvement by the user, providing redundant communication paths and better reliability than direct, line-of-sight communications between individual devices and a receiver. This self-organising technology optimises data reliability while minimising power consumption. It also reduces the effort and infrastructure necessary to set up a successful wireless network, because up to 99 wireless devices can be served by one gateway. New instruments can normally be added to a network in just minutes.

"This wireless concept is not a fad or gimmick," James said. "It really works, and the operating range is amazing. It is a long distance from the temporary LPG bullets to the control room. The fact that we could transmit that far and do so reliably without a single loss of signal is quite magical."

Another Australian business that has also adopted a wireless solution to help handle bitumen is Terminals Pty, the country's largest independent bulk liquid terminals company.

The unloading, storage, and shipping facilities near the industrial port city of Geelong include a 900-metre pier and 16 or more tanks. At this location, the company imports and stores bulk vinyl chloride monomer and other hazardous and non-hazardous combustible and corrosive liquids, fats, and oils. Hot bitumen storage facility is part of a recently completed expansion project

Terminals Pty selected Smart Wireless to monitor temperatures in the 900 metre long, eight-inch wide, heat-traced pipeline used for unloading bitumen from ships at Geelong. It is necessary to make certain the electric heaters are operating all along the pipeline to keep the bitumen hot (160°C) and fluid. If a heater fails, a cold spot could form causing the bitumen to solidify and plugging the line with expensive consequences.

"We needed to monitor the bitumen line," according to Bitumen Terminal project manager Joe Siklic, "to make the operators aware of cooling anywhere in the line from the ship to the storage facility, which could result in an emergency shutdown. Any delay in unloading could keep a ship at the pier longer than planned with demurrage costing up to US$30 000/day."

The wireless technology was selected, Siklic said, for its lower initial cost and minimal maintenance as compared with hard wiring. Eight Rosemount wireless temperature transmitters are evenly spaced along the pipeline, sending temperature readings on one-minute intervals to a Smart Wireless Gateway on shore that channels data to the AMS Suite predictive maintenance software used for instrument configuration and performance monitoring.

The collected data are also forwarded to a SCADA system in the terminal control centre via fibre-optic cable.

Due to the self-organising nature of this technology, each wireless device acts as a router for other nearby devices, passing the signals along until they reach their destination. As with BP Bitumen's solution, if there is an obstruction, transmissions are simply re-routed along the mesh network until a clear path to the Smart Wireless Gateway is found. All of this happens automatically, without any involvement by the user, providing redundant communication paths and better reliability than direct, line-of-sight communications between individual devices and their gateway. "This is an ideal application for wireless," Siklic said. "Since numerous paths exist to carry the transmissions, the network would easily compensate for a transmitter failure, and the operators would be warned. This wireless network has proved to be reliable, compatible with existing control equipment, and cost effective. The amount of structure on the wharf is minimal, and that is another benefit."

January 22, 2009

Cutback Bitumen Process



Field Manufacture of Asphalt Cutbacks
Various types and grades of asphalt cutbacks can be manufactured in the field with standard equipment. Thinner cutbacks can be produced from the more viscous grades. Field manufacture of SC and MC, however, is more practicable than field manufacture of RC because of the rapid evaporation of gasoline from RC. Also, a greater danger of fire or explosion from the gasoline exists.

Equipment and Production Rate
The rate of production is usually controlled by the speed that AC can be emptied from the drums and heated in the asphalt melters to suitable temperatures for pumping. The production rate for the asphalt melter is about 750 gallons per hour. Figure 5-1 shows the suggested arrangements of equipment uses in the manufacture of asphalt cutbacks. For small-scale production, use a truck- or trailer-mounted distributor or a 5,000-gallon, trailer-mounted asphalt tank with heating coils, instead of a 4,000-gallon mixing and storage tank. Arrange piping and pumping to fit each particular installation.

Safety
At least one safety inspector should be assigned to each operation to help personnel stay focused on their particular job. He ensures that personnel observe safety precautions within his area of responsibility. Personnel must strictly observe safety precautions when heating bitumens. They must—

Keep foam-type fire extinguishers available at all times.
Maintain oil heaters, storage tanks, asphalt melters, and distributors in a level position before heating.
Never heat bitumens near buildings or flammable materials.
Control ventilation of melters, heaters, and distributors to prevent escape of flammable vapors near flames or electrical equipment.
Stay to the windward side of equipment to avoid excessive exposure to fumes.
Reduce heat when foaming might cause overflow.
Extinguish burners after bitumen has reached the temperature given in Table 2-1 .
Extinguish burners and evacuate personnel if a dense, yellow vapor rises from the asphalt melter, distributor, or storage tanks. (This indicates overheating to the extent that a spark could cause an explosion.)
Extinguish burners before spraying bitumen from a distributor.
Never smoke within 50 feet of any equipment. A designated smoking area should be at least 100 feet upwind of the equipment during heating operations.
Examine all hoisting equipment daily.
Never fill buckets or containers to the top if they will be hoisted.
Never allow the asphalt level to fall below the fire tubes while the burners are in operation.
Consult appropriate TMs for clean-out operations.
Wear long-sleeve shirts, cuffless pants, fireproof gloves, heavy-soled boots, and steel combat helmets or civilian safety hats. This clothing helps protect workers if hot bitumen accidentally spills on them.
Procedures

The procedures for the field manufacture of asphalt cutback are outlined below. Strictly observe the safety precautions associated with the procedures to avoid the danger of fire or explosion. See Table 5-2 for the composition of asphalt cutback.

Drums
Use special axes or cutting tools to remove the heads from asphalt drums, and inspect the contents of each drum. Eliminate drums that are contaminated with water or material that could cause foaming or fire. Take care when opening the drums to avoid serious injury, which can be caused by improper use of cutting tools.

Load the drums inside the dedrumming tunnel using an electric winch or a lifting device to pick up the drums. The Army uses different types of melters. The main difference between them is the melting capacity, which ranges from 8 to 12 drums inside the dedrumming tunnel. Heat the AC to about 250°F until it is fluid enough to pump easily. Figure 5-2 shows a typical asphalt melter.


Asphalt Cement
Once the AC (or cutback) is heated to a workable state, pump it to storage. The 5,000-gallon heated tanks are usually used as storage tanks. Use the oil-jacketed lines between the units to maintain the asphalt in the pipelines at a constant temperature that is high enough to keep the asphalt fluid.

Blow out all the lines (except oil-jacketed) that become plugged with cold asphalt. For oil-jacketed lines, heat uneducated elbows and keep oil in the jacket. If the original asphalt material cannot be delivered hot, pump it directly to the storage tanks.

Pump about 2,000 gallons of AC from the heated storage tanks to the 5,000-gallon mixing tanks. If using a distributor or a trailer-mounted tank for mixing small quantities, pump it about half full to leave space for cutter stock and the foaming action that may result when adding the cutter stock.

Temperature
Adjust the temperature in the mixing chamber between 240° and 250°F. Pump circulation accompanied by heating or atmospheric cooling will help regulate this temperature. If the temperature drops below 240°F, the AC will not be fluid enough to pump easily or mix readily with the cutter stock. At higher temperatures, much of the cutter stock will be lost in a gaseous form and a serious fire hazard will exist.

After the original material in the mixing tank is adjusted to the specified temperature, stop circulation and estimate the quantity of material in the tank. Determine the required amount of cutter stock to place in the mixing tank, and pump the desired quantity into the tank.

For best mixing results, introduce the cutter stock near the intake pipe that leads to the circulation pump. Pump the heated original material and the cutter stock through a closed system in the mixing tank. Cover the openings in the tank with wet burlap or canvas while blending cutbacks. Ensure that fire-fighting facilities are readily available.

When manufacturing cutbacks from AC, start pumping as soon as the AC is fluid enough to pump without damaging or placing a strain on the trailer-mounted asphalt pump. Ensure that the temperature is as low as possible, not to exceed 250°F because of the fire hazard. After mixing, usually about 30 minutes, pump the newly manufactured asphalt cutback to final storage.

Material Requirements
The following example shows how to calculate the combined quantities of AC and cutter stock needed for a specific type and grade of asphalt cutback:

Example: Calculate the quantity, in gallons, of AC and diesel oil that must be combined to produce 750 gallons of SC-800.

Solution: SC-800 is composed of 70 percent soft AC, with a preferred penetration of 200 to 300 and 30 percent diesel oil by volume ( Table 5-2 ).

(0.7) (750) = 525 gallons of AC
(0.3) (750) = 225 gallons of diesel oil

The procedure for determining the proportion of cutter stock added to asphalt cutback to produce a lower (thinner) grade is outlined below. Use the data in Table 5-2 and the following formula:



where—

x = percent of cutter stock to be added to the cutback to be thinned

a = percent of cutter stock in desired cutback of lower grade

b = percent of cutter stock in cutback to be thinned

Example: Calculate the amount of kerosene and MC-800 cutback used to produce 1,000 gallons of MC-70 cutback.

Solution:


x = 20.7 percent kerosene
x = 79.3 percent MC-800

To produce 1,000 gallons of MC-70, combine 207 gallons (1,000 x 0.207) of kerosene with 793 gallons (1,000 x 0.793) of MC-800.

Use the following example to calculate yield:

Example: The materials available in the field for bituminous construction include 1,000 gallons of 120 to 150 penetration AC, 750 gallons of MC-3,000, and 1,750 gallons of kerosene. Determine the following:

How many gallons of MC-30 can be produced by combining the AC with the kerosene.
How many gallons of MC-30 can be produced by combining the MC-3,000 with the kerosene.
How many total gallons of MC-30 can be produced.
Solution: Determine the percentage of AC and kerosene in MC-30 by referring to Table 5-2 . MC-30 contains 54 percent AC and 46 percent kerosene. If 1,000 gallons of 120 to 150 penetration AC represents 54 percent of the MC-30 to be produced, use the following formula to determine how many gallons of kerosene should be added to the AC:


where—
x = gallons

Combining 1,000 gallons of AC and 851 gallons of kerosene produces 1,851 gallons of MC-30.

Use the following formula to determine the percent of kerosene added to MC-3,000 to produce MC-30:


where—

x = percent of kerosene to add to MC-3,000

a = percent of kerosene in MC-30 (see Table 5-2 )

b = percent of kerosene in MC-3,000 (see Table 5-2 )


Use the following formula to determine the amount of MC-30 that can be produced by combining the MC-3,000 with the kerosene. The previous equation determined that 37.2 percent of the MC-30 is kerosene, so the remaining 62.8 percent is MC-3,000.


where—

x = amount of kerosene, in gallons, to add to 750 gallons of MC-3,000

The amount of kerosene is as follows:

Available = 1,750 gallons.
Previously used = 851 gallons.
Remaining = 899 gallons.
Since 899 gallons of kerosene are available and only 444 gallons are needed, there is enough kerosene to thin all of the MC-3,000. Add 750 gallons of MC-3,000 to 444 gallons of kerosene to make MC-30 (makes 1,194 gallons). The total amount of MC-30 that can be produced is 3,045 gallons (1,851 + 1,194).

Source -http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/fm/5-436/chap5.htm

Oil Money in Africa


Kenyan government investigating disappearance of US$100 million of oil imports
It has been reported that the Kenyan government is investigating the disappearance of US$ 100 million of oil imports which were apparently fraudulently released to Triton Oil by employees of the Kenyan Pipeline Company (KPC) without the authority of KPC management or of the banks financing the import.

The head of KPC has been fired, an international arrest warrant has been issued for the CEO of Triton Oil and Transparency International has alleged senior politicians may have benefitted from the fraud which could lead to a disruption of oil supplies to East Africa.

Source- Mbendi/ Reuters.

January 14, 2009

Iran On Expansion of refineries to Private Sector



The Ministry of Petroleum has issued 18 permits to the private sector for the construction of crude oil refineries.


These permits have been issued since 2007 with the passing of the amendment of Article 44 of the Constitution calling for privatization of state-run institutions.

Deputy Oil Minister Akbar Torkan told the Mehr news agency that the construction operation of two of the projects has been initiated.

He added that the private sector has voiced its readiness to build gasoline and bitumen refineries, hence, the ministry has issued the permit for building the refineries in Khuzestan and Bushehr Provinces.

January 13, 2009

Cement , Plastic or Bitumen Roads ?


As it faces flak from the Delhi High Court over poor condition of roads, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi's (MCD) on Saturday said it
has identified 245 roads, which gave way during the monsoons and will now be constructed using cement.

The civic agency will improve quality of the city roads in three phases at a cost of Rs 200 crore. Officials said all these roads will be cemented before the Commonwealth Games in 2010. Cement roads tend to last for 20 years as compared to bitumen roads which have a life span of just five years. Said commissioner K S Mehra: "During the first and second phase, 200km length of roads will be covered whereas in the third phase 300km length of roads will be covered.'' By March, the civic agency is expected to upgrade 84 roads at a cost of Rs 100 crore. Of these roads, 52 fall in the urban areas and 32 are in the rural areas. Besides this, MCD is also looking at making plastic roads.

A 5km stretch in Narela is being make using plastic technology. Experts say plastic roads are more water resistant and hence more durable. For stretches which will be made using bitumen, Mehra has now given directions to the engineering wing that transporting hot mix from across the border should have insulated tipper that works like a thermos flask so that the desired temperature of the material can be retained. Officials said that because hot-mix plants are located outside Delhi, often the transported material is unable to retain the required temperature of 120-135 degree Celsius needed for making good quality roads.

As a result, roads being constructed with this material tend to give way faster. Said Mehra: "An MCD official will be present on the site to ensure that the bitumen and aggregate is being mixed under the right temperature.'' Another problem is that in the absence of drains, roads break faster. While a proper drainage system for the city has been promised for years now, nothing concrete has happened. "We are not awarding work for improvement of roads or strengthening of road also has to give an affidavit saying that there is proper drainage system at the site,'' said Mehra.

Cemex New Asphalt Plant - Energy Saver


West Lothian based Cormac Ltd have installed and commissioned a complete high efficiency TOP TOWER asphalt plant for CEMEX at their quarry near Shap in Cumbria. Cormac, who are renowned for their high efficiency bitumen storage tanks, took full responsibility for the CEMEX installation, having recently entered into an exclusive UK working relationship with leading Italian asphalt plant manufacturers, Marini SpA.


The new plant has been purchased to produce up to 100,000 tonnes of coated road stone per year, primarily using aggregates from the adjacent Shap Blue Quarry. The coating plant is designed to operate 24 hours per day, seven days per week when required, enabling CEMEX to fulfil night time contracts, carried out to avoid disruption to day time traffic.


Planners placed strict environmental restraints on CEMEX to minimise carbon emissions and prevent dust or debris contaminating the local environment. In parallel, CEMEX needed to minimise plant running costs without affecting performance and product quality. This new generation of energy efficient asphalt plants has been developed to meet customers' demands for versatility, quality and environmentally-friendly solutions. By definition, asphalt production is an energy hungry process. To minimise energy consumption at all stages of the process, the TOP TOWER uses a combination of innovative design and optimised insulation, to bring significant energy savings throughout. Cormac claim that these design concepts can bring energy savings of over 15%, whilst their high efficiency storage tanks provide savings of up to 50%, compared with traditional designs. In parallel these savings also reduce the installed electrical capacity requirements.


The plant design is extremely compact and the main components are brought to site in pre-assembled modular format, thereby reducing on site installation time. The TOP TOWER is technically compatible with all types of asphalt, including hot, half warm and low energy. Depending on the required layout of the storage unit for finished products, it can be configured in either under-mixer or offset format. There is an under-filter storage hopper for recovered fines and also a short fines recycling unit. The patented screen design and direct double access ensures the screen grilles can be changed easily and quickly as required. The multi-function metering-mixing unit features a large section access door, to facilitate the gravity emptying of aggregates, filler and bitumen. This also makes it simple to introduce bagged additives, recycled materials and foam bitumen.


The main burner, which is designed for minimised CO2 emission and optimised energy consumption, can be adapted to run on light or heavy fuel oil, natural gas and coal. The coating drum features an efficient heat recovery process, recycling waste heat back into the process to further reduce burner fuel consumption.


By its nature, bitumen needs to be transported and stored at elevated temperatures. As a result storage tanks can act as giant radiators if not suitably insulated, gobbling up energy and adding, in their small way, to global warming. Cormac have been successful in significantly reducing the transfer of heat from the inner tank to the outer cladding. This in turn minimizes the amount of energy that is needed to maintain an optimum storage temperature for the bitumen. The new tank design uses a combination of traditional insulation materials combined with a special reflective thermal coating. Together these produce spectacular energy savings compared with a conventionally clad tank design, reducing energy consumption by over 50%. To reduce energy consumption even further, the tanks are fitted with proprietary progressive multistage heating systems, which maintain the temperature of bitumen within a preset bandwidth.
Cormac's MD Steve Corbett is very upbeat about his company's new capabilities and as he concludes: "The Marini designs represent the latest innovations in compact asphalt plant design. With our experience in asphalt plant implementation and bitumen tank design, we can now offer customers cost effective, high efficiency asphalt plants with production capacities from 60 to 300 tph.


Safety and environmental issues are also of paramount importance in our asphalt plant design. Our optimised burners reduce CO2 emissions, whilst special filters at strategic parts of the plant ensure dust or particles cannot be emitted to the atmosphere. The bitumen storage tanks are fitted with an RBA (Refined Bitumen Association) compliant failsafe safety system to prevent overfilling and spillages. This system allows regular testing of critical components at ground level (GLT) prior to each fill."

High Bitumen Price in Vietnam Slows Road Works


The high cost of bitumen has become a major hurdle for contractors undertaking roadwork infrastructure. And special compensation offered by the Government still means that companies have to borrow money first to buy the liquid tar.


Luong Quang Thi, director of Trade, Investment and Construction Joint Stock Company (Trico), said last month the price of one tonne bitumen was US$500, excluding value added tax, while crude oil from which it is made has fallen from $147 to $50 a barrel.


"This is totally absurd!" said Thi, adding that the bitumen price had remained the same since July when the price of crude oil was at an all-time high. Nguyen Thuy Nguyen, director general of the Van Cuong Construction Company, said sky-high prices had caused a big problem for companies engaged in road and bridge construction.


A representative from a road construction company engaged in rehabilitating National Road 48 said bitumen was now double the price in December 2006 when his company bid for the work. "On average, we lose about VND3 billion ($183,000) on bitumen for each kilometre of road (11 metres wide capped with 12cm of bitumen)" he said.


The high price is a major contributor to the delays in many road construction projects. Several companies have slowed down their work waiting for the bitumen price to go down.


Luu Van Dung, director general of Project Management Unit (PMU) 6, affiliated with the Ministry of Transport, said the Government had adopted a special policy for road construction companies. According to Circular 09/ 2008/TT-BXD, it will compensate them for any differences in bitumen prices.


For example for the rehabilitation of National Road 70 by the PMU 6, compensation is expected to reach VND30-40 billion. This month, several major roads are being covered with asphalt, including the Ho Chi Minh Highway-Trung Luong, the National Road 70 linking the northern provinces of Yen Bai and Lao Cai and the third ring road in Ha Noi.


This means the Government has to spend a huge sum of money in compensation. A representative from Shell-Viet Nam company, one of the five major bitumen suppliers, said the price hike for crude oil plus increasing demand from China and other Southeast Asian countries had pushed prices up. "This is the consequence of an imbalance between supply and demands," he said.

Source:Viet Nam News & Alibaba

January 10, 2009

Bitumen Deposit In Ogun State


Governor Gbenga Daniel has described the practice of issuing prospecting licenses by the federal Government without recourse to states where the minerals are found as counter productive.

A statement from the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor, Media, Adegbenro Adebanjo, said the Ogun State Governor made the observation while playing host to members of the Mineral Resources and Environment Management Committee, MIRECO, which paid him a courtesy call in Abeokuta .


The Governor told the committee members led by Dr. Onaolapo Soleye that states should be allowed to vet and make inputs before the federal Government grants licenses to prospective miners. This, the Ogun State Governor says would prevent conflict and hastens the processes of exploration and return on investment.


The Governor also told the committee set up by the Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals to prevail on the federal authorities to ensure that the Ogun State owned Gateway Bitumen Company, GBC, gets one of the blocks in Ogun State during the next round of bidding for bitumen.
The Governor explained that during the last bidding Gateway Bitumen Company applied for one of the blocks in Ogun State , won it and paid the required deposit only for the exercise to be cancelled on the ground that the reserved price was not met.


He said since the bitumen in question exists in Ogun State , the people through the state owned GBC should be allowed to be the first beneficiary of the God given endowment. Otunba Daniel assured the Committee of the support of his administration saying the mineral resources of the country should continued to be used for the betterment of the people.


Speaking earlier, Dr. Soleye said the committee which he described as purely advisory consists of selected professionals from relevant state agencies and was set up to advise the minister of solid minerals on issues relating to the granting of titles for mineral exploration, payment of compensation to affected communities and matters relating to environmental protection.
The Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee derives its existence from the Nigerian Mineral and Mining Act. The Committee exits in all states with solid mineral deposits.

January 4, 2009

Tar Bleeds due to Excess Traffic and Heat


The PWD officials says that they will avail German technology to remove the undulations on the riding surface of the bridge caused by the bleeding of tar due to movement of heavy traffic on it,"


The 850-odd metre bridge, which was thrown open for traffic in 1994, has a total surface area of 6,000 sq m, but a sizeable part of it has developed humps due to the melting of bitumen on the 14-year-old bridge.


"About one metre of the bridge from the footpaths has become unusable," said PWD sources who did not want to be named. PWD authorities attribute the problem to inexperienced workers using excess bitumen while laying the wearing coat.


For a long time, PWD authorities tried various measures, including routine ones like burning, to rectify the problem, but it hasn't helped, sources said. "The tar melts with the heating caused by heavy traffic," they added.


The new technology has been tried in cities like Mumbai. "Its use on the Mandovi bridge will be for demonstration," sources said, hinting that the PWD will be charged a minimal fee, as the agency is keen to popularize this technology.


Some roads in Panaji also have "bleeding" parts due to movement of heavy traffic, and recourse to this technology to remove the humps is likely, sources said.

Late action of SEC To the Oil Producers Account Book


We have earlier discussed the same topic in one of our post about the accounting standards and the year end inventory for the purpose of account, which SEC has finally taken some action.


Not sure how much it will help the Oil and Bitumen Producers, and we will watch this continously..


The U.S. securities regulator is changing accounting rules to buffer energy companies from wild oil and gas price swings, but the move will come too late for Canadian energy producers facing significant writedowns on their reserves this year.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said this week that as of Jan. 1, 2010, oil and gas producers can use a 12-month average price to book the value of their reserves, instead of the price on a single day, Dec. 31, as they do now.


The changes won't apply to this year's reserves reports, causing a major headache for oil companies. But oil sands producers will be harder hit, because prices for bitumen, a heavier crude that is more expensive to refine, have fallen farther and faster than have prices for light, sweet crude.


Last Dec. 31, oil sands companies booked their bitumen reserves at a healthy $70 a barrel (U.S.), a price at which most projects appeared viable. But this year, even though bitumen prices spiked to more than $100 in June, the global economic downturn and subsequent commodity price collapse means a barrel of heavy crude from the oil sands will now only fetch around $25 today. At that price, many oil sands developments are too expensive to be viable, preventing companies from booking such reserves as proven.


The rule change, long lobbied for by U.S. and Canadian firms, should limit the impact of price volatility when it comes to reporting how much oil and gas assets are owned by companies.
Several oil sands producers, including Royal Dutch Shell Ltd., EnCana Corp. and Nexen Inc. refused to comment on their reserves yesterday. But analysts said such companies will now have to reduce their year-end estimates of how much oil they own because of the current SEC regulations.


"Any oil sands companies filing U.S.-type disclosure for the 2008 year-end may have to write off a significant portion of their proved bitumen reserves, given that bitumen prices are extremely low right now," said Phil Welch, president of McDaniel & Associates Consultants Ltd.
Petro-Canada spokeswoman Andrea Ranson said that while the calculation of year-end reserves is complicated, the lower price of bitumen this year "could impact our reserve booking."
Any writedowns on reserves taken by companies this year likely won't significantly affect share prices, as producers should be able to rebook their oil at the end of 2009. However, decreased reserve values could make it even harder for producers to acquire debt, given that banks use reserves as a key indicator of a company's long-term viability, said Chris Feltin, a Calgary-based analyst at Tristone Capital.


Canadian firms have long campaigned against the old SEC regulations, arguing that using a price from a single day unreasonably exposes them to market volatility. They also say it's unfair to use a December price to evaluate their oil sands holdings; the value of bitumen falls in winter as demand for heavy crude drops.


However, the new rules will allow companies to disclose possible and probable reserves, as opposed to the current system that allows only proven reserves to be reported.
Oil sands mining companies can now also book their reserves as oil and gas resources, instead of mining reserves as was the case previously, improving clarity for investors.
In a separate move yesterday, the SEC officially rejected a banking industry push to suspend accounting rules that force banks to value assets on their balance sheets at current market prices even if they plan to hold them for years.


Magic Powder for Roads

This seems to be an alternative to the natural bitumen but the from the soil itself , by mixing it some mineral, making it watertight and applying bitumen as a paint to keep the roads intact..

Interesting.. Pls read on and thanks to the writer.

Written by OKEY NDIRIBE

In a country where almost every road is filled with potholes, an invention, the type made by Dr Ebenezer Ajibola Meshida, geologist and scientist, should have been an instant hit, adopted by those in government without fuss to solve the problem of bad roads.
Lateralite, as his baby, is a powder “composed of small particles which induce electrical activities in laterite soil.” The invention won him the NLNG award in 2008. But that is the biggest interest anyone in the country has shown about the project.


Meshida, who is now a senior research fellow at the University of Lagos, obtained his first degree in English, History and Geography from the University of Ibadan in 1967. In 1968, he returned to the university to start a preliminary degree programme in geology. He completed the programme and earned another degree in geology in 1971. He then went to the University of Lagos to study engineering sciences encompassing soil, applied and rock mechanics. He later joined Nigerian Soil Engineering Co. Ltd. as an engineering geologist in-charge of site investigations and foundations. Ever since, he has been an engineering geologist and lecturer in foundation engineering at UNILAG. He spoke to Sunday Vanguard on his project.


‘MY invention is made up of minerals mixed together in the form of a powder composed of small particles which induce electrical activities in laterite soil. It is called Lateralite. The reaction of the powder is scientific. We believe that if you apply this powder to our laterite soil- which has been giving us problems- water won’t be able to get to the foundation of the road. We won’t have pot holes on our roads anymore. The reaction would be such that water would not be able to penetrate the laterite soil. When you compact the laterite soil, the soil maintains that compacted nature. Water would not reduce the compacted strength. If we now take all this into consideration, and we use the powder to stabilise our soil, being used for road construction, we would have roads that water cannot trouble.


“The road construction industry can take advantage of this. This is because soil stabilised with the powder will not develop pot-holes. What this means is that when you put the asphalt on such a treated soil, there is no way water can be a nuisance anymore. We would make the base course relatively thick enough to be able to transmit the stresses induced by vehicle tyres appropriately. This means that our roads would have the advantage of not getting spoilt over a long time. Everything would be the way you have put it even when the area is water-logged.
That is the advantage of the powder. I am not sure what cost reduction or increment means in the Nigerian road construction industry. As far as I am concerned, we haven’t had roads in Nigeria. All these things we call roads are just bush tracks introduced by the colonial masters when they were here. They do not have the type of what we have here as roads in their own countries. We have witnessed how roads are constructed over there and we don’t have it here. The joy I have now is that Lagos State in particular has constructed some standard roads in the state. These include Abiola Road and new Lekki Road. Majority of what we call roads are no roads. So when we are talking about cost, I don’t know what standard we are using. But if we have to use this stabiliser, the roads have to be completely designed as standard roads are designed abroad.


An example is what is obtainable in road design and construction in London. London soil is much worse than ours but when their roads are designed, the cost is made. When we say we design here, I am not sure of what type of design we do. When a road is constructed, nobody supervises and no standard is maintained. In fact, it is difficult for me to find words to adequately convey what I mean so that it doesn’t seem as if I am condemning what everybody else is doing. But, academically, I think we must stick to the truth.


“My powder is the first of its kind which is made for laterite soils. There are many stabilisers invented for other countries across the world. Our soils have their own composition. Among the common compounds found in them are iron oxide and aluminum oxide and they have their own problems when water comes in contact with them. All my work has been to study the chemical composition of our laterite soil and to study what minerals could be put into it to remove the problems it manifests.


If you use the powder to stabilise our roads, we won’t have the problem of destabilisation any longer.“Bitumen would still be required in road construction even after lateralite is applied. It is like a paint on the wall. When you build a house and you want to protect the walls from attack of the weather, you paint it. When bitumen is applied on the road, it is for the purpose of preventing the weather from affecting the road. Bitumen would be helpful to protect whatever you have laid underneath. But the bitumen we normally use here are very inferior in quality.
For instance, there is no reason there should be any pot-hole on the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos. This is because the base is concrete and not soil. But because inferior bitumen was put there during the construction, pot-holes that can burst your tyres have developed. So, if we have the standard bitumen to put on top of treated soil, then we are talking of standard roads.
“My expectation from the Federal Government is for them to send their engineers, so that we could have experimental stretches of roads constructed with Lateralite, even if it is a very difficult terrain. All we need is to be allowed to construct an experimental road even if is only 10 feet. We should then watch such a stretch of road for three years. There must be engineers assigned from government ministries who would check the effectiveness or non-effectiveness of the powder.


The Council for Registered Engineers of Nigeria (COREN) has to establish a forum for the review of inventions. If COREN takes it upon itself to look at inventions like mine, there has to be a forum like a seminar organised by the COREN or Nigeria Society of Engineers. But various university departments and the ministries of works of some state governments have been coming for the powder. For instance, the ministry of works in Ondo State came for the powder and replied with very positive comments.


“The University of Lagos as a body has not reacted to my invention. But the Department of Civil Engineering where I have been lecturing for the past seven years has used the powder in student projects at the post-graduate and doctoral levels. We generated a lot of data over the years. I am not a regular staff of the university.
I retired from the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife in 1991. I am an associate lecturer of the University of Lagos - a semi external and semi-internal staff. Although my appointment is not an ideal one, I expect that the university should evolve a policy whereby any lecturer at all, whether internal or external who has made an invention, would be asked to present his invention to such a body.


“I can produce an experimental quantity of Lateralite if it is needed. But for it to be produced in commercial quantity, it would require the establishment of a factory. As a scientist, what I am itching for is experimental construction. For now, the issue is not whether I want to make millions of naira from this invention. But if an experimental road construction could be executed during my life time, I would be satisfied. If this could be done, the younger ones would pick it up. I could have started a commercial business with my invention, but that would take a lot of money and time and you know I am getting old. Commercial quantity"I have to be very cautious in the sense that, as you get older, you cannot be as active as you were when you were younger. My strength now is not like my strength 10 years ago. I have involved younger lecturers and researchers to continue with the research so that the powder could be produced in commercial quantity.


I patented this invention with the Federal Government in 2005. I am trying to play down the interest foreign companies and groups have shown in my invention. It is actually a sore-point for me and the nation. For instance, when I was looking for a mixer and I approached a Chinese firm in Lagos, they readily offered to buy the product and the formula. I laughed at them and rejected their offer. I have also received letters of invitation from foreign countries to come over as a scientist or as a research fellow. But I always emphasised the issue of age. If I didn’t go to Canada when I was 25 years old, I can’t do that now when I am 65.
“If I go over there, they would give me assignments to do but it won’t be on our own soil type. It would also mean that a foreign country would take over my skill and intellectual production. But it is strange that even though my invention was made for the Nigerian soil, everybody has kept quiet. My children have told me to sell off my invention if somebody offers me $1 million because they believe the Nigerian system would waste me.


“If I die now in this country, I don’t think my life would have been a wasted one. I have contributed something. So if those in government like, let them use it, if they don’t like let them ignore it. Only posterity would judge. The breakthrough was achieved in 2001. That was the year I started lecturing in this department. Ever since Lateralite has undergone a lot of tests and experiments and lot of data has been collected. It is well known in my department and students call it the magic powder.