February 29, 2012

PMB in Russia

Polymer Modified Bitumen is gaining inroads in various parts of the world for construction of high traffic expressways and the fever caught Russia as well.. Pls read.

Lead experts of PU Bitumen (a TNK-BP unit) are taking part in the international specialized Polymer Asphalt Cement: Innovations in Construction exhibit. The conference is taking place on March 15-16 in Moscow with the assistance of Russia's Ministry for Transportation and Federal Road Agency (Rosavtodor).

The exhibit attendants will see PU Bitumen's innovative developments and unique materials used for road construction; in particular, the TNK Alfabit polymer asphalt cement products.
PE Bitumen actively engages in a project pursued by Rosavtodor and Ministry of Transport and Motor Roads of the Ryazan region where they test and compare different types of polymer asphalt cement for asphalt concrete mixtures. The test results will lay ground for making justified decisions on a more widespread usage of polymer asphalt cement for motor roads in Moscow and the Moscow region. The

TNK Alfabit has been used to pave experimental road sections of the Moscow ring road and Simferopolskoe highway.

The TNK Alfabit polymer asphalt cement meets the best international standards, and has been tailor-made for our country with due account for its specific climate zones. The new product is highly durable and is just as easy to use as the traditional bitumen. "To use this innovative product, road engineers need to modify neither their process equipment, nor the processes", said PU Bitumen Leader Andrey Chirkin.
Information for editors:

TNK Alfabit is an innovative product by TNK-BP. Using TNK Alfabit eliminates the issues inherent in road maintenance, prevents road cracking brought about by temperature swings, enhances the road surface and makes it more resistant to rutting. Using TNK Alfabit allows increasing the time between road surface overhauls to 6 years when roads actively used.

World practices in application of polymer-modified bitumen for road construction reveal its distinctive excellence compared to other improving agents used for asphalt concrete mixtures. The polymer asphalt cement has recently taken 10-12% of the European market of road construction bitumen. In view of the increasing traffic flow, the polymer asphalt concrete gains on popularity in Russia as well.


February 22, 2012

Another Bitumen Price Fixing By Shell and Engen - Cartel

The Competition Commission has reached settlement agreements with oil companies Engen Petroleum and Shell South Africa Marketing after they admitted to having fixed the price of bitumen.
Engen agreed to pay a penalty of R28.8-million and Shell would cough up R26.3-million, the commission said in a statement on Tuesday.

The price fixing was done by collectively determining and agreeing on pricing principles, including a starting reference price and monthly price adjustment mechanism.

The settlement agreements followed the commission’s referral on March 4, 2010 of its findings against the Southern Africa Bitumen Association (SABITA) and seven major oil companies namely, Chevron SA, Engen, Shell, Total SA, Masana Petroleum Solutions, Sasol and Tosas to the tribunal for adjudication.
The commission stated that it did not seek a penalty from Sasol and its subsidiary, Tosas, which were granted conditional immunity following the leniency application filed in January 2009. Subsequent to the referral, the commission previously concluded settlement agreements with Masana and SABITA in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

The case was initiated following information received from Sasol and Tosas in the leniency application. In its investigation, the commission found that the oil companies entered into an agreement and engaged in collusive conduct from around 2000 until the end of 2009.

The commission said the conduct included the exchange of sensitive information relating to the pricing of bitumen and associated products, and the use of an agreed pricing formula to set the wholesale list-selling price of bitumen. This was facilitated through meetings convened by SABITA, as well as correspondence through SABITA and direct communication between oil companies.

The commission had filed these agreements with the Competition Tribunal and was awaiting set down for confirmation.

“Shell has cooperated fully with the commission’s three-year investigation and will continue to cooperate with the competition authorities in this regard,” said Shell South Africa chairperson Bonang Mohale.
Mohale said that while it was the company’s view that the pricing mechanism was aimed at creating transparency to track bitumen price fluctuations and not set a final price to the consumer, Shell accepted that its conduct in this regard, as a member of SABITA, contravened the Competition Act.

“We regret Shell’s involvement in this matter. Anticompetitive conduct is against our business principles and values and not tolerated in our organisation.“We are fully committed to compliance and conducting our business in a manner that is both fair and ethical,” he stated.

The settlement is turnover based, and the Competition Commission can impose an administrative penalty of up to 10% of business turnover. Shell’s administrative penalty is 9% of its bitumen business turnover in 2009.
In June 2010, the tribunal confirmed a R13-million settlement agreement between Masana and the Competition Commission.

Made from crude oil, bitumen is used to produce asphalt, which is used in road construction.

Edited by: Mariaan Webb
Soucre -  http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/engen-shell-agree-to-pay-penalties-in-bitumen-cartel-case-2012-02-21

February 18, 2012

Bitumen Shortage Due to Refinery Shutdown

PETROLEUM product shortages continue at some fuel stations in SA but the industry said yesterday that the situation had improved.

For some months now, the South African petroleum industry has been battling fuel shortages — particularly petrol and diesel.

"The situation has improved but supply remains tight. We are in a better position compared with earlier this month," South African Petroleum Industry Association executive director Avhapfani Tshifularo said yesterday.

"But there are still challenges with certain grades of petrol ."

There was, however, still a shortage of low-sulphur-content diesel, Mr Tshifularo said.

These shortages could be traced to maintenance and repair shutdowns at refineries last year.

"It is not easy to recover from that, especially if you are supplementing supply with imports, as imports can be subject to delays," Mr Tshifularo said.

He said the supply of jet fuel was adequate. "We are doing very well there. The stock levels are satisfactory — especially at OR Tambo International Airport," he said.

Refiner and marketer of petroleum products Chevron SA will today start a 43-day planned maintenance and safety shutdown at its Cape Town refinery.

The Chevron refinery has a capacity of 100000 barrels a day and produces petrol, diesel, jet fuel, liquefied petroleum gas, fuel oil, paving asphalt and other products.

The company has a network of about 800 retail outlets across SA.

Refinery shutdowns in the past have mainly affected the supply of liquefied petroleum gas and bitumen, as companies generally did not supplement these with imports, unlike petrol and diesel.

Last year’s refinery shutdowns took their toll on liquefied petroleum gas supplies.

The Department of Energy said last year that the unplanned refinery shutdowns were becoming a threat to security of supply of some petroleum products, especially liquefied petroleum gas and bitumen.

Bitumen shortages affect road construction projects as bitumen is used to produce the asphalt that is used in road construction.

The Chevron shutdown is due to end in the first week of April.

In a move to allay concern about fuel shortages during the shutdown at its refinery, Chevron said: "As an integral part of Chevron’s planning for this maintenance project, the Chevron refinery has gone through a period of building up stock levels as well as making arrangements to import additional finished product, to ensure an adequate supply of fuel products."

Chevron said the entire safety and maintenance inspection at its refinery would cost about R210m.

Source - http://www.businessday.co.za/Articles/Content.aspx?id=165242

February 6, 2012

Italy's Woes over Iran's Fuel Supply Cut

The European Union (EU) sanctions on imports of petroleum from Iran over the country's peaceful nuclear program can lead to the closure of Italian oil refineries, European oil industry sources say.

"Some Italian refineries are heavily dependent on Iranian crude and need to secure alternative supplies urgently... or they will run into serious difficulties," said Piero de Simone, director of Italy's oil industry organization.

According to analysts, at least five of Italy's oil-refining plants are making losses while the small refiners that rely on Iran's relatively cheap heavy oil to produce asphalt and bitumen are among the most vulnerable.

"This is why I am so angry. These EU sanctions are weakening Mediterranean refiners more than the Iranians," said an executive from a European refiner.

"The US and the UK play the tough guys, but we have to pay the consequences," he added.

On January 23, EU foreign ministers imposed new sanctions on Iran which include a ban on purchasing oil from the country, a freeze on the assets of Iran's Central Bank within the EU, and a ban on the sale of diamonds, gold and other precious metals to Iran.

Earlier on December 31, 2011, US President Barack Obama signed into law new sanctions against the Islamic Republic and announced that the United States would begin penalizing other countries for importing Iranian oil or conducting transactions with the country's central bank.

The United States, Israel and some of their allies accuse Tehran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear program and have used this pretext to impose four rounds of UN Security Council embargos against Iran.

Iran, however, has refuted the allegations, arguing that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Tehran has every right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

Source-  http://presstv.com/detail/224588.html

February 3, 2012

Canada's OilSands A Boom or Bane..

Northern Gateway pipeline will hurt consumers and harm Canada's already weakened manufacturing sector

CEO and labour leader agree: Canada should upgrade bitumen rather than send value-added jobs to China and U.S.
EDMONTON, Feb. 2, 2012 /CNW/ - Building a pipeline to send millions of barrels of raw bitumen from Alberta's oil sands to refineries in China will make some oil companies richer - but those riches will come at the expense of consumers and non-energy businesses across Canada.

That's the main conclusion of a detailed report prepared by Robyn Allan, an economist and prominent businesswoman who was once named one of Canada's top 200 CEOs.
The report was filed this week as evidence to the federal panel currently considering Enbridge Inc.'s application to build the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline.

In her report Allan projects that the Northern Gateway pipeline, if approved, will reduce Canada's GDP, increase unemployment and put downward pressure on personal incomes because it will impose a two-to-three-dollar per-barrel increase in the price of oil - something she describes as a "price shock" that the Canadian economy can ill afford at this time.

"Somehow this project is being presented as 'nation building'" by people like Prime Minister Stephen Harper, writes Allan.

But "all available research, as well as the experience of most Canadians, points to just the opposite. Higher oil prices mean a decrease in family purchasing power, higher prices for industries who use oil as an input into their production process, higher rates of unemployment in non-oil industry related sectors, a decline in real GDP, a decline in government revenues, an increase in inflation, an increase in interest rates and further appreciation of the Canadian dollar."

Allan's report concludes that industry predictions that the pipeline will add $270 billion to the Canadian economy over the next 30 years are fatally flawed because they don't factor in the depressing effect of an across-the-board increase in oil prices.

Allan's report almost didn't see the light of day because the National Energy Board (NEB) refused to grant her status as an intervenor in the hearings. But the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) did have status and chose to submit Allan's report as part of its evidence.

"Both Robyn and I agree that the oil sands should be developed," says AFL president Gil McGowan. "But that development should not come at the expense of the rest of the Canadian economy.

"The good news is that there is a way to avoid the price shock that Robyn talks about. By doing more upgrading and refining in Canada, we can make sure that Canadians keep much more of the value created by development within the country. And, by developing markets in eastern Canada instead of Asia, we can ensure that Alberta's growth isn't coming at the expense of growth in other provinces."

In addition to Allan's report, the AFL submitted its own 42-page analysis which argues that the Northern Gateway pipeline, if approved, would close Canada's window of opportunity for "moving up the value ladder" for at least another generation.

"By increasing bitumen prices, the pipeline will remove the major competitive advantage that had traditionally been enjoyed by Canadian upgraders: access to cheap feedstock," says McGowan.

"In essence, the pipeline will dramatically undermine the economics of Canadian-based upgrading and refining. In the process, we'll be forced, again, into the role of 'hewers of wood and drawers of water.' Other nations will take the jobs and profits associated with adding value to our resources, and we'll be left with pollution and inflation. It may even drive existing Canadian refineries out of business. I fail to see how Stephen Harper and other boosters of the Northern Gateway pipeline can argue that this approach is in the public interest. The evidence clearly suggests that we will seriously regret opening the door to bitumen exports to China."

A copy of Allan's report, entitled "An Economic Assessment of Northern Gateway" can be found here. A copy of the AFL's brief on the same subject can be found here. Allan's bio can be seen here.
For further information: 
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour @ 780-218-9888 (cell)
To arrange interviews with Robyn Allan, please call Terry Inigo-Jones, AFL Communications @ 780-910-1137 (cell) 

Source -http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/915085/northern-gateway-pipeline-will-hurt-consumers-and-harm-canada-s-already-weakened-manufacturing-sector

Green Roads - Coming Your Way

THE establishment of a Greenroads rating system – similar to that employed by the Green Buildings Council of SA - was discussed at the recent Conference on Asphalt Pavements for Southern Africa (CAPSA).
SSI Engineers & Environmental Consultants has been instrumental in bringing the Greenroads principles to South Africa having been involved with the USA based Greenroads Foundation for over a year and having recently concluded a memorandum of understanding with the foundation to localise the tool for South African conditions.

Greenroads is a collection of sustainability best practices, also known as credits which relate to the design and construction of roads. A company will receive credits for employing sustainable practices in the design and construction of roads, such as using reclaimed materials from existing pavements in rehabilitation, rather than new materials, or moving from hot-mix to warm-mix asphalt thereby lowering the carbon footprint of the project whilst minimising the environmental impact.

Delegates attending the CAPSA conference agreed that there was a need for a Greenroads certification scheme in South Africa, which will be used as a tool to assess the sustainability of road projects in the country.

A representative of the international Greenroads Foundation provided delegates with insight and information on how the system works in the USA.
Although an SSI initiative, the intention is to develop a true industry standard which requires the involvement and buy-in of as broad a spectrum of the roads industry as possible. Although the implementation of a Greenroads system is still a year away, SSI is considering applying the principles on a current project as a pilot for possible inclusion in a future Greenroads rating system.

An example of the ‘Green Roads’ technique is on the M5 in Durban where recovered existing asphalt was crushed, screened and stabilised and then placed on the roadway in a 150mm-thick layer followed by a 60mm thick asphalt-wearing course as the final surfacing.

SSI resident engineer Peter Jerome explained that only recycled asphalt materials were used, resulting in significant cost savings on the project. All asphalt recovered for reuse includes a 100%-recycled bitumen stabilised materials (BSM) layer, milled off asphalt haunch and recycled concrete kerbs. About 15% of the recycled asphalt added to the asphalt surfacing is delivered as Warm Mix Asphalt (WMA).
The benefits of using WMA at lower temperatures include a reduction in energy consumption, greenhouse-gas emissions, fumes, and odours generated at the plant and the paving site. Less obvious technical benefits include the reduction of short-term binder hardening, the reduction of mixture tenderness and a possible increase in the percentage of reclaimed asphalt pavement used in new asphalt pavement mixes.

SSI says it has embraced the principles of the Greenroads imitative and is actively promoting its adoption as an industry standard in South Africa.

Sustainable practices in the design and construction of roads, such as moving from hot-mix asphalt to warm-mix asphalt or using reclaimed materials from existing pavements in rehabilitation, rather than new materials, will minimise the environmental impact and lower the carbon footprint of projects.

Source -  http://www.cbn.co.za/dailynews/5990.html

Another Bitumen Scam

NEW DELHI: Dissatisfied with incomplete replies and delays in submission of the Action Taken Report (ATR) against erring officials by MCD in response to irregularities cited in the CAG report on implementation of MP Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS), the Union ministry of statistics and programme implementation has sent a terse reminder to the Delhi Government.

It has also sought that FIRs be lodged in cases of misappropriation of funds and suspected fraud.

Despite repeated reminders from the ministry the MCD, which is the nodal implementation agency for MPLADS in Delhi, is yet to furnish a final report.

The all-India review meeting with all MPLADS nodal officers is scheduled for February 6 at Vigyan Bhawan.

In the 2010-11 performance audit CAG report the 12 paragraphs pertaining to Delhi cited a host of issues ranging from the sub-standard quality of material used in roads to serious procedural lapses in the execution of various projects. For instance the audit found that in Delhi during 2004-09 the MCD executed 28 works for providing and laying 25 mm thick bitumen "mastic wearing course" for strengthening of roads by laying mastic asphalt through contractors.

In all these cases the contractor used a lesser quantity of bitumen leading to excess payment of Rs 66 lakh.

The reply by the MCD has failed to satisfy the ministry which has asked the MCD Commissioner to initiate action against officials responsible for irregularity and FIRs against contractors for suspected fraud in the MPLADS fund.

According to sources, the Department of Urban Development has sent repeated reminders to the MCD seeking a final status report.

The ministry in a letter, dated January 9, to the principal secretary, urban development, Chandra Mohan stated: "The ministry is required to submit the Action taken Report on the audit paras to the CAG before being submitted to the Public Accounts Committee. This is getting delayed and any further delay is likely to attract criticism from the PAC."

The ministry's letter further emphasized that of the 12 audit paragraphs pertaining to Delhi as per observation of the performance audit report of 2010-11, complete replies in respect of only 6 paras have been received. "From the replies received from the MCD, it has been noticed that the information provided against 6 paras are inadequate. It is pointed out that the ministry had sought replies by November 15 previously but the information never came. A fresh deadline of January 20 seeking a comprehensive action taken report is also long past. 

Source - http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/MPLADS-scam-Centre-wants-corrupt-booked/articleshow/11733910.cms

February 2, 2012

Bitumen Shortage in South Africa

SA is currently facing a bitumen supply shortage which has had drastic implications on road maintenance and road repairs over the past couple of months, according to Frost & Sullivan (F&S).

AFTER: The notoriously potholed and dangerous Sunrise-on-Sea road outside East London has been given a tarred makeover, much to the delight of residents.
One thousand tons per day of bitumen is currently required by the road construction industry in SA. However, only 30 to 70 tons per day is being produced, the consultancy firm said on Wednesday.

In SA, 600,000km of roads are unsurfaced and, in the long term, it is predicted that an average of four to six million tons per annum will be required.

There are a number of interrelating factors contributing to the shortage of bitumen supply. Firstly, the production of bitumen is costly, as technology used in the manufacturing process is high. Secondly, production plants need to be located in close proximity to the end user, in order for the bitumen producer to produce profitably, the company said in a statement.

"Onerous specifications to meet certain standards on national road projects can also prevent easy entry of new bitumen producers into SA," said F&S's chemicals, materials and food research analyst, Bhavisha Jaga.

"In addition, the closure of refineries, due to upgrading and maintenance of facilities, continues to place additional pressure on increasing the supply of bitumen. Chevron and Natref refineries, for example, have a limited bitumen supply, which adds to the US$14 billion road maintenance backlog."

The price of bitumen fluctuates in line with the dollar price of crude oil, as crude oil is imported largely from Iran. With instability in the Middle East, and a US and European Union embargo on Iran crude oil exports, the price of crude oil, now valued at US$110.80 per barrel, is set to rise, causing the price of bitumen to further increase.

"With a growing restriction on Iran crude oil exports, seeking alternative crude oil suppliers such as Angola, Nigeria, Ghana and Saudi Arabia, may be an expensive, but unavoidable, consideration for asphalt producers in the future," says Jaga.

Bitumen comprises 60% of the cost of asphalt production, which is used in road construction. The bitumen supply shortage will, therefore, strain future road maintenance projects, such as the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project and N1 and N2 Winelands toll roads.

Smaller, yet significant projects such as the repairing of potholes, might end up being side lined as a result of the shortage of bitumen, as the primary focus will now be on major projects.

"Job losses for road contractors are likely to occur until there is a normalisation in the supply of bitumen," notes Jaga. "The losses will have a detrimental impact on the economy in the face of the government's plan to create five million jobs by 2015."

Plans are currently underway to resolve the bitumen shortage. These are being coordinated between the Department of Transport, South African National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral) and the Department of Energy.

According to the Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele Sanral - which in 2010 accounted for 70% of bitumen used in the country - is engaging with the road construction industry to directly import bitumen from overseas.

The first shipment of bitumen of 4,500 tons was directly imported in November 2011. The import of bitumen can be expected to ease the high demand for bitumen, but logistical factors, aggravated by a weakening of the rand-dollar exchange rate, can impose higher costs on the bitumen industry.

F&S expects that, as the demand for bitumen in SA continues to increase, warm mix asphalt technology will most likely be used on the roads. This technology allows for asphalt to be recycled, which can reduce the demand for bitumen. There is also an increased likelihood of a bitumen product export market arising, as recycled asphalt technology is utilised.

Source -  http://www.businesslive.co.za/southafrica/2012/02/01/sa-s-worst-bitumen-shortage-in-30-years-fs