September 15, 2011

Bulk Bitumen from India

The Visakha refinery of HPCL has stepped up safety measures and has so far completed 3.2 million man-hours of safe operations, according to a press release.

The refinery, with a capacity of 8.3 mmtpa of crude throughput, has executed the clean fuels project at a cost of Rs 2,205 crore, to supply quality MS petrol meeting the Euro-3 and Euro-4 specifications. The refinery has also commissioned a single point mooring facility earlier this year at the port to receive crude from very-large crude carriers, resulting in substantial savings in freight.

Visakha refinery is one of the few who have commissioned bitumen coastal loading facilities, adds the press release. It enables the refinery to move bitumen in bulk to different parts of the country and abroad.

The refinery is also adopting various energy-saving measures and taking up environmental conservation projects on a large scale.


September 9, 2011

Polymer Modified Bitumen -The new trend

Lankem to introduce polymer bitumen

Lankem Ceylon PLC has planned to introduce polymer modified bitumen to local roads which will improve the durability and ease the laying of local roads.

“We are very strong in the construction sector and we will be fortifying in this area ourselves and one of the new areas will be the introduction of polymer bitumen to local roads to ensure durability and easing the laying of local roads, Lankem Managing Director Anushman Rajaratnam told Daily News Business yesterday.

Lankem will also consolidate its performance in the local market for 2011/2012 with the wave of success it has enjoyed in the areas of construction and agriculture.

This will also add to the construction portfolio of the Group which is already engaged in road construction, waterproofing, industrial flooring, sports courts flooring, epoxy flooring and painting contracts as well.

“While we will consolidate in our core activities in the agricultural sector such as in the areas of our seed paddy production, agro-chemicals, we want to make it a one stop shop for the farmers,” he said.

Source -

Listing the Building and Business

The street direcotry has come out with an innovative idea of listing the business in each building in Singapore and around the region, which is a very helpful for those who are searching for the businesses and serves as a great tool.


September 5, 2011

Tar Sands - is it worth a try

Analysis by Cristen Conger

Actress Darryl Hannah and NASA scientist James Hansen are just two of the more than 800 environmental protesters that have been arrested in front of the White House this week.

The crowd has been demonstrating against the proposed Keystone Pipeline XL project, which involves building a 1,700-mile (2,735-kilometer) heavy-oil pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to oil refinement facilities along the Gulf Coast of the United States.

The decision to allow TransCanada Corp. to go through with the $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline rests with the U.S. government, and the protesters are hoping to sway President Obama to veto the permit.

Aside from the environmental disruption caused by constructing the underground pipeline, the environmentalists’ opposition to Keystone hinges on the hydrocarbon chemistry of tar sands and how they’re converted into crude oil.

BLOG: Liquid Salt Extracts Oil from Sand

To understand what tar sands are and why they have a slippery reputation with environmentalists, here’s a cheat sheet on these unconventional oil fields:

WHAT: Tar sands, also known as oil sands, are a mixture of roughly 90 percent sand, clay and water and 10 percent bitumen, a thick hydrocarbon liquid. After extracting that 10 percent of bitumen from the tar-sand mixture, the bitumen can be purified and refined into synthetic crude oil.

WHERE: In North America, tar sands are concentrated in the Athabasca Oil Sands in Alberta, Canada. Because of Canada’s vast oil deposits, it's the top supplier of crude oil to the United States. Saudi Arabia is the second-largest supplier.

Tar sands are also found in Venezuela and the Middle East.

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would run from the Alberta tar sands down the middle of the United States through Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Oklahoma, all the way to Texas, where it will be refined and converted into gasoline. That's longer than the Trans Alaska Pipeline, which stretches 800 miles. Currently, there are around 55,000 miles of oil pipeline crisscrossing the United States.

HOW: Squeezing oil out of tar sand is an extremely wasteful process: it takes between 2 and 4 tons of tar sand and two to four barrels of water to produce a single barrel of oil. Rather than drilling for oil, enormous shovels carve out open pits in the tar sands, scooping out the greasy interior to be hauled to a processing facility.

There, the tar sand is combined with water to form a slurry, which forces the sand to sink to the bottom of the mixture while the bitumen floats to the top. Once the bitumen is extracted, the run-off is piped into large, stagnant tailing ponds of sand, water, and bitumen impurities.

To make it to the pump, refined bitumen heads to an oil refinery where it’s converted into gasoline. And since bitumen is a highly viscous “heavy” oil that doesn’t flow as easily as lighter crude, it requires more processing to facilitate its flow through the oil pipelines.

Overall, mining tar sands, extracting bitumen and converting it to gasoline releases three times more carbon dioxide than typical oil production. In addition to massive amounts of tar sand needed to extract oil and the carbon emissions generated, the tar sand mining operation takes places in Alberta's boreal forest, a relatively untouched ecosystem prized for its biodiversity. But the habitat destruction has threatened the livelihood of various native species, and the Alberta Water Research Institute is currently spending $15 million to prevent runoff toxins collected in tailing pools from entering nearby water supplies.

WHY: As the price of crude oil has risen and relations with the oil-rich Middle East have deteriorated, tar sands close to American borders have become a more attractive option in the past decade.

Those in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline argue that importing tar sands oil from Canada, a political ally, will move the country toward more energy independence. However, those opposing the pipeline counter that reducing reliance on fossil fuels like tar sands oil is the only long-term path toward energy independence.

HOW MUCH: Tar sands around the world also collectively represent 3 trillion barrels of oil. But a majority of that tar sand bitumen lies too deep in the earth for recovery with today’s mining technology. Nevertheless, Canadian tar sands produce more than 1 million barrels of crude synthetic oil every day.

If completed, the Keystone XL pipeline would allow up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil to flow daily to the Gulf Coast. In June 2011, the U.S. imported just over 2 million barrels of crude oil from Canada every day, followed by 1.1 million barrels from Saudi Arabia and Mexico each.

The U.S. government should reach a decision on the Keystone XL by the end of the year. The U.S. State Department has already issued a report on the pipeline’s potential environmental effects and found “no significant impact on most resources along the proposed pipeline corridor.”

Yet, the report did raise concern about the potential of pipeline leaks in "environmentally sensitive areas," such as the Ogallala Aquifer, a primary freshwater source for the Plains regions.

NASA scientist James Hansen, who was arrested at the Keystone XL protests in front of the White House, commented that if the government approves the project, it's "game over" for curbing climate change.

Meanwhile, in Alberta, enormous dump trucks keep hauling payloads of tar sands to be sifted, sloshed and siphoned, eventually, into our gas tanks.


September 2, 2011

Bitumen in Drums still Rules the Market

Why rail isn’t an option to ship bitumen to new markets

Low volumes and high tolls make it a poor alternative to pipelines

August 31, 2011
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Proposing new pipelines to ship bitumen to the United States or British Columbia to access new markets continues to be public relations nightmare for the petroleum industry. There is no guarantee two high profile projects – TransCanada’s Keystone XL and Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway – will get regulatory approval (although it’s looking more likely in Keystone XL’s case). So is there any other way to ship bitumen to refineries that need it?

One possibility bandied about over the years is shipping the sticky stuff by rail. The option makes sense for a number of reasons.

  • It can be loaded directly onto rail cars, eliminating the need for expensive diluents – a product that reduces the viscosity of bitumen and allows it to flow easily through pipelines.
  • The required infrastructure (i.e. – rail tracks) is already in place.
  • By eliminating the need to build massive pipelines, the volume of negative publicity these conduits have generated for the oil sands sector would decrease substantially.

CN Rail is already sending test shipments of bitumen to the Gulf Coast, as well as shipping crude from the Bakken reservoir in North Dakota to Midwest and Gulf Coast refineries. Canadian Pacific is also shipping North Dakota oil to the Gulf Coast. But as Calgary investment boutique Peters & Co. pointed out this week, it is unlikely rail will provide Alberta’s oil sands producers with any measurable relief in reaching new markets.

The Canadian pipeline sector, understandably, is not keen on rail companies muscling in on their business. The trump card for pipeline companies is that railways can’t possibly send the volumes of bitumen to markets that a pipeline can. For example, CN is currently transporting 10,000 barrels of crude per day, while TransCanada’s Keystone XL expansion would ship 700,000 barrels per day. Transportation tolls on a pipeline would be cheaper than rail as well. And don’t forget that rail shippers will need to sign long-term contracts with oil sands producers, something the producers won’t do unless there is no hope of building these mega-pipelines.

Keep these points in mind the next time you hear someone touting trains as a viable alternative to pipelines in shipping bitumen to thirsty markets. It ain’t happening.