September 30, 2009

Recyling Roads with lesser bitumen

The Delhi government is finally beginning road resurfacing in the Capital. For the first time, the PWD will be using new techniques it had been experimenting with in the past.

The re-carpeting process started on Tuesday on Ring Road, close to Hyatt Regency in South Delhi. The 293 lane-km of road will be surfaced using hot in-situ recycling.

The project will cost Rs 37 crore. In this technology, around 70 per cent material available in the road is used and only about 30 per cent material is added. The advantage of using this technique is that the thickness of the road surface is raised only by 10 to 15 mm.

According to the PWD, the life of such roads is five to seven years. This technique was used on an experimental basis on the Mehrauli-Badarpur Road two years ago.

The PWD had started experimenting on new road building technologies after 1997 when the Supreme Court banned hot mix plants inside Delhi. With bitumen supply reduced, the PWD had been looking for alternate options.


September 28, 2009

Bitumen demand in Qatar

Stable supplies and prices seem to have brought cheer to Qatar’s construction industry, which for long faced shortage of cement, sand, bitumen, steel and other materials.

Relaxation in import procedures, production boost and slackening global demand because of the economic downturn have been cited as major reasons for the stable supply of construction materials in the local market.
Industry sources said adequate quantities of cement were now available with the country’s main producer Qatar National Cement Company (QNCC). The company levies a wholesale price of only QR14 a bag at its production facility in Umm Bab, which has seen production boost in the recent months. Qatar’s cement requirement is estimated between 18,000 and 19,000 tonnes a day.

QNCC’s production has scaled up to 4.65mn tonnes (15,500 tonnes a day) from 3mn tonnes in mid-2008 following the completion of the cement mills (Plant-4) at the company’s facility at Umm Bab.
The balance (about 3,000tons per day) is met through imports, mostly from India and Pakistan.

“Adequate cement is available at reasonable prices in the wholesale market,” said the project manager of a leading Doha-based construction firm.
The sale of cement by unauthorised retailers has already been banned in Qatar. Unauthorised retailers were charging up to QR50 a bag when there was severe shortage of cement in the country until a few months ago.
The relaxation in import procedures has come as a big relief to the construction sector. Authorised construction firms can now freely import cement, sources point out.

Cement shortage in the country was triggered by the construction boom and the first major shortage was seen in 2004. Besides the huge demand caused by the country’s rapid expansion, the lack of import facilities at the Qatari ports triggered the shortage and subsequent higher prices.
The availability of treated sand has also improved considerably though the price has not come down commensurately. The official price tag of washed sand is QR22 per tonne. But one ends up paying much more due to transportation expenses.
However, costs have now come down to about QR80/ton from QR120/ton a couple of years ago, obviously due to the fall in transportation costs.
Qatar Sand Plant is the only producer of treated sand in the state. Washed sand is widely used for concrete works in the country.
Steel prices have already stabilised in the market in line with the international trend.

A bitumen roll costs about QR100 but there is no shortage in the market now, a source said.

Bitumen, a tar-like substance and a by-product obtained during crude oil refining, is used for waterproofing in buildings, bridges and drainage.
It is also widely used for road construction and resurfacing. Qatar mostly meets its bitumen requirements through imports from Saudi Arabia.


September 26, 2009

China's Refinery to make Bitumen

In June, CNOOC's Huizhou Refinery Project commenced production, mar king the significant progress of CNOOC's refining section. Currently, the company is promoting construction of its refining system in areas around the Pearl Ricer Delta, the Yangtze River Delta, and Bohai Bay. The company aims to reach 80 million tons of oil refining and bitumen processing capacity by 2020.

China may soon alter the equation of bitumen industry as more and more refineries are coming into stream. It may be net exporter in the next decade.


September 21, 2009

Weather Delays Tracks

PROGRESS of the $2.2 million all-weather athletic track project at Lloyd Elsmore Park has been delayed for a number of reasons and construction is running behind schedule.

When the project started back in the autumn, it was announced that the new track facilities would be laid and ready for action by July.

Pakuranga Athletic Charitable Trust secretary Linda Mitchell says: “Reoccurring vandalism and arson of the machinery and construction shed during the drier summer months meant the construction company had great difficulty in finding a hire company prepared to hire equipment to them.

“They lost valuable time before the winter rain set in,” says Mrs Mitchell. “Added to this, there was a long shipping delay in the arrival of the edging blocks.”

Further works are delayed until there is drier weather, which is required before a bitumen layer goes down, ensuring there is no moisture underneath the artificial track surface. Any water seeping in could cause bubbling and long-term problems.

“The bitumen layer needs about a fortnight of fine weather and time for the gasses to escape, before the final rubber surface is laid,” says Mrs Mitchell.

Work should recommence on October 1 and the Manukau City Council has been given a finish date of January 2010, weather permitting. Signs notifying the public of the revised project completion date have been put up at Pakuranga Athletic Club.

Delayed completion affects junior and senior track and field sections of the athletic club.

However, chairman of the junior committee Graham Vincent says an agreement has been reached with the Howick Pakuranga Cricket Club to temporarily use some of its fields.

“On Wednesdays we will use the grounds directly behind the Pakuranga Athletic clubhouse,” says Mr Vincent. “Council will be marking out the track and field for us.”

The start of junior competition is delayed until Wednesday October 28, two weeks after the club’s preferred opening date.

“To use our own area, buildings and equipment, and keep operating on our own night is fantastic. And we’re not accountable to anyone else.”

Plans are underway to fence the entire athletics complex, including the clubrooms, and gates will be locked each evening. Boundaries that are satisfactory to all parties are being discussed with the neighbouring cricket and hockey clubs.


September 7, 2009

Plastic Roads ahead

A chemistry professor from Tamil Nadu has discovered that a marriage of convenience between hot bitumen and molten plastic waste could be the way towards what Lalu Prasad had once dreamt for Bihar’s roads.

R. Vasudevan’s finding, which promises to solve the twin problems of battered roads and plastic waste, has received official recognition, with the Union rural development ministry issuing guidelines for laying rural roads using plastic waste.

Civic bodies in Tamil Nadu and the state’s highway department have already laid more than 750km of plastic roads and are adding more based on the process developed by Vasudevan, head of chemistry at Thiagaraja Engineering College, Madurai.

“It’s a simple procedure where plastic waste is mixed with hot bitumen before it is laid. Since plastic waste like cups, carry bags, etc, are heated only up to 170°C, they form a molten paste and get mixed with the bitumen,” said Vasudevan, who has given the patent of the process to the college.

He added: “Since the waste is not incinerated, which happens at 690°C, no toxic gases are released. As only non-chloride polymer waste is used, chlorine seepage into the ground is also avoided.”

Adding plastic reinforces a road in three ways. It increases the road’s load-bearing capacity, makes it more resistant to heat especially during summers, and prevents rainwater from seeping down. The third factor ensures durability, since water is the main enemy of bitumen-based roads.

“The life of the road will be prolonged three to four times provided there are no cuts and patchwork after it is laid,” Vasudevan said.

Performance studies on the roads built with plastic waste in Tamil Nadu indicate “satisfactory performance with good skid resistance, good texture value, stronger and less amount of progressive unevenness over a period of time”, say the guidelines issued by the National Rural Roads Development Agency, an arm of the Union rural development ministry.

The ministry recommends the use of polyfilms with thickness up to 60 microns, hard and soft foams and laminated polymer with thickness up to 60 microns. However, polyvinyl chloride sheets (flex sheets) should not be used. The process of coating the aggregate (tar and granite mixture) with molten (waste) plastic does not require machinery.

Modifying bitumen with shredded plastic waste raises the cost by Rs 2,500 per tonne, but this is offset by the need for less bitumen, better performance and environmental conservation, the guidelines say. They even ask local bodies to contact Vasudevan (0452-2482240) for further advice.

Vasudevan said the local bodies could initially source the plastic waste from their own dumps, since a 10x10-metre road needs just 1.7kg of plastic. Two lakh tonnes of plastic items are sold every month in Tamil Nadu alone, of which 40 per cent is recycled and 10 per cent gets into garbage.
Source- The Telegraph

September 5, 2009

Bitumen tank explosion

Fulton and Hogan CEO Bill Perry said he understood the man, a sub contractor, was fitting safety equipment to the top of the 18000 litre tank when it exploded.He was Kieran John Hudson, 21, from Greymouth. He was carrying out welding work to improve safety of railings on the silo.

"Foremost this is an absolute tragedy. Our thoughts are very much with the worker's family at the moment," he said.

A man, who did not want to be named, told that the explosion at around 9.35am "sounded like a sonic boom".

"It's blown a big hole in our [workplace] roof, a piece of vent from the tank has come through our roof and left a big hole."

"The piece from the truck just came flying, hit the roof then landed on a car in the carpark," said the man who was about 600 metres from the explosion.

"It sounded like a bloody sonic boom going through the place."

At first the man had thought there had been an explosion in his workshop and hurried all the staff inside.

"But then we saw the smoke coming off the tarmac and we ran to see what we could do. But there was nothing. Nothing we could do for him."

Jarrod Roberts who works at Coast Glass about 250m away from the site said "it was like a bomb going off".

"All we just heard was a big blast," he said.

"It's just blown the side out of the bitumen tank."

"You could just feel the waves coming towards you - it shook everything."

The Department of Labour is investigating.

Mr Perry was flying to Greymouth to look into the incident and said a full investigation would be carried out.

"Fulton and Hogan takes safety very seriously and such a tragedy is something that we need to understand and get to the bottom of so it will never happen again."

September 2, 2009

Bahrain to build Bitumen Plant in Oman

Bahrain's Mashael Group will build a 30,000 barrels per day (bpd) bitumen refinery in Oman that is planned to be completed in 2012, a project official said on Tuesday.

'The agreement has been signed by Mashael and the government to build the refinery at a cost of $200 million in the Sohar Industrial Port Company (SIPC) area,' a SIPC project official told Reuters.

'Mashael will own the refinery but the land has been leased to them by SIPC for the purpose,' he added.

Bitumen or asphalt, which is produced by straight run vacuum distillation, sits at the bottom of the barrel of most crudes. The product is then put through further processing to produce market grade bitumen.

SIPC is a 50-50 joint venture between the Government of Oman and the Port of Rotterdam.

Oman is developing SIPC as a free trade zone to attract foreign investments and is home to major projects including a methanol plant, a fertiliser company, an iron pellet plant, a port and an oil refinery.-Reuters

Source -

September 1, 2009

Petro China's another Petro Industry Buy

PetroChina International Investment Company Ltd. (PTR-N109.75-3.44-3.04%) will buy a 60 per cent stake in privately-owned oil sands firm Athabasca Oil Sands Corp. in a deal that oil patch insiders see as a key vote of confidence in Alberta's massive bitumen reserves.

The $1.9-billion deal will give PetroChina a large stake in a company whose assets contain about five-billion barrels of bitumen.

“Oil sands projects are very capital-intensive long-term investments and difficult to fully finance in the traditional equity market,” Athabasca chairman Bill Gallacher said in a release. Athabasca “therefore decided to look for joint venture partners, and these strategic joint venture arrangements with PetroChina, one of the world's largest energy companies, can ensure that the MacKay River and Dover projects will be developed in timely manner, which is excellent news for Alberta and the rest of Canada.”

Rumours of the impending deal pushed up shares in several small junior oil sands companies, including UTS Energy Corp. (UTS-T1.790.1710.49%) and Connacher Oil and Gas Ltd. (CLL-T1.00----%) , on a belief that major outside investment interests are once again prepared to invest in the oil sands.

“It's great news for the oil sands business. It shows that there are still large, sophisticated, deep-pocketed companies out there prepared to write big cheques,” said one Calgary banker.

Athabasca calls itself the largest leaseholder in the Athabasca region of the oil sands, with 526,000 hectares of net land.

Sveinung Svarte, the president and chief executive of Athabasca, was not immediately available Monday morning. However, in an interview this May, he said the company had spent months searching for joint venture partners.

“That has always been our philosophy to finance our projects,” he said then. “We are talking about quite a few billion dollars [in] long-term [capital requirements], and to have a partner coming in and finance a large part of that has been our model.”

At the time, he said even with low oil prices, large oil sands properties continued to attract “a lot of interest.”

“Even in this market. I would say maybe even more in this market, because I think the buyers have recognized that it's easy to make a deal today,” he said. “Because the sellers are a bit more, what shall I say, they expect a bit less than with the price at $147 oil.”

Chinese interest have taken an increasingly large stake in the oil sands. China National Petroleum Corp. made a $449-million deal for Verenex Energy Inc. in February – although that deal has had troubles proceeding thanks to difficulties in acquiring permission from authorities in Libya, where Verenex has the bulk of its holdings. And late last year, Sinopec paid about $2-billion for another Calgary company, Tanganyika Oil, which has production-sharing agreements in Syria.

The Athabasca deal shows “that major international companies are game to put up big dough for Canadian oil sands projects.

“So I'm sure people are looking at that and saying another potentially ready-to-go project is obviously Fort Hills,” said another Calgary investment source. “So UTS could be a beneficiary of that.”

UTS holds a 20 per cent stake in the proposed Fort Hills oil sands mine, which is majority owned by Suncor Energy Inc. after its acquisition of Petro-Canada. UTS rebuffed a bid by French energy giant Total S.A. to buy that share earlier this year.

Athabasca made an application last year to build two pilot oil sands projects that will use technology known as “steam-assisted gravity drainage” to exploit the crude on its lands. Unlike oil sands mines, SAGD operators use underground injections of high-pressure steam to coax the thick bitumen to the surface.

The company plans to apply for its first commercial project, a 150,000 barrel-per-day development in MacKay River, near the end of this year. It expects to begin production of a first, 35,000 barrel-per-day, phase in 2014.
source -

In the name of Bitumen

In the name of Bitumen

By the end of April 2009, a trader tried to penetrate 35 oil tankers carrying Bitumen where al-Tiwal customs administration refused to give him the permission to enter these oil tankers to the country for exporting the shipment under the name of Bitumen. When customs authority examine the shipment and found it was dangerous, the trader asked for the permission to enter these oil tankers to al-Saleef Port to be exported via this port to the country of origin. The customs agreed upon his request but till now the oil tankers still laying at the port and have not exported yet. Now the trader is demanding concerned authorities to help him get it into the country as mazot.

At the same time, SNACC took some samples from four oil tankers laying at Haradh customs department and others taken from Bajel cement factory in addition to samples taken from two oil tankers belonging to another dealer during their unloading their shipment at Bajel cement factory's tanks. All the results of the examined samples showed that they were not fit the international specifications of mazot wither in its intensity or high concentration of sulfur substances internationally approved for industrial use.

On these bases, the authority has made a number of measures, the most significant one is informing Prime Minister on dangers of entering any unexamined shipment of oil derivatives. The authority also addressed the customs authority to re-export the 35 tankers stopped in al-Saleef port and committing the trader to return them to Saudi Arabia and reporting to the SNACC on that.