May 31, 2012

Paver Blocks or Bitumen

MUMBAI: Flouting recommendations of its own committees seems to have become a common practice for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Despite the Standing Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) advising against the use of paver blocks on major roads (more than 30-ft wide), the BMC, in a mad rush to complete road work before the monsoon arrives, is doing just the opposite: It has been laying major roads with paver blocks instead of asphalt or cement concrete.

TOI visited three wards—S (Bhandup), N (Vikhroli) and T (Mulund)—on Wednesday and found that the STAC's recommendation on use of paver blocks is being blatantly violated.

While the STAC had made it clear that paver blocks should only be used for side strips, footpaths, traffic junctions and narrow roads, the BMC is using the blocks on roads as wide as 60 feet in the three wards. Opposite Vijayvihar society in Powai, the civic body has used paver blocks on a 65-m stretch. At Hari Om Nagar in Mulund (E), a 45-ft wide road has been relaid using paver blocks for over a kilometre.

STAC chairman M V Merani said, "We have repeatedly told the civic body not to use paver blocks on wide roads. They are only meant for side strips, footpaths and one-lane roads which are narrow. Paver blocks are to be used where bitumen and cement concrete cannot be. We had specified two designs for laying of paver blocks, but contractors do not always follow them."

Civic officials said the process of laying paver blocks is easy and less time consuming. "Many times, the civic body uses paver blocks instead of asphalt or cement concrete just to meet the deadline. There have been instances when the BMC has realized only after starting the work that asphalting or concretizing of the road would not be possible," said an assistant engineer. Additional municipal commissioner Rajiv Jalota said, "Concretization or asphalting of roads has been stopped in some wards due to the presence of underground utilities." Interestingly, it is the responsibility of the civic roads department to get the clearances from all utilities before starting road work.

Contractors prefer using paver blocks as it is cheaper than concretizing the road.

Source- Times of India

May 30, 2012

Bitumen Export and Greenhouse Gas Regulation

During the 2008 campaign, Stephen Harper promised to ban the export of raw bitumen to countries with weaker emissions targets.
“We will not permit the export of bitumen to any country that does not have the same greenhouse gas regulations that we are imposing,” Harper said in Calgary, where he was campaigning for re-election in an Oct. 14 vote.
Mr. Harper said the federal government had the constitutional authority to enforce a ban. And the Prime Minister acknowledged that such a ban could impact exports to Asia.
Harper’s promise is likely to have no impact on bitumen exports to the United States, said Environment Minister John Baird, but could affect the construction of a major pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific coast to feed the Asian market. Questioned on whether the emission target proposal would have an impact on future bitumen exports to Asian countries, Harper replied: “Well, it could. It absolutely could.”
Nearly four years later, the Harper government is quite keen to sell this country’s oil to Asia. But for all the discussion in recent months about resource development and oil exports, Mr. Harper’s pledge has gone unmentioned. What happened to promised ban? I sent the following query to the Prime Minister’s Office.
During the 2008 campaign, the Prime Minister promised to ban the export of raw bitumen to countries with environmental standards that were more lenient than Canada’s. Does the Prime Minister still intend to fulfill that promise? And, if so, how does he square it with the government’s desire to export oil to countries like China and India?
That question was forwarded to the office of Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver. Mr. Oliver’s spokeswoman sent along the following statement by way of response (emphasis mine).
“Our government is focused on jobs creation, economic growth and long-term prosperity. Our plan for Responsible Resource Development will help unleash enormous economic growth, by streamlining environmental assessments while maintaining the highest possible standard for protecting the environment. In the next 10 years, more than 500 projects representing over $500 billion in new investments are proposed across Canada. We currently are continuing to review this policy.”
That roughly matches what Minister Oliver’s office said more than eight months ago when Postmedia checked on the Prime Minister’s promise.
“Our 2008 platform commitment remains in effect. We continue to review on an ongoing basis,” said Julie Di Mambro, press secretary to Oliver.
At that time, a “person familiar with Prime Minister Harper’s surprise announcement” said the promise was to be “buried and never seen again.”

 by Aaron Wherry

May 29, 2012


About Tar Sands

Basic information on tar sands, tar sands resources, and recovery of oil from tar sands.

What Are Tar Sands?

Tar Sandsclick to view larger image
Tar Sands

Tar sands (also referred to as oil sands) are a combination of clay, sand, water, and bitumen, a heavy black viscous oil. Tar sands can be mined and processed to extract the oil-rich bitumen, which is then refined into oil. The bitumen in tar sands cannot be pumped from the ground in its natural state; instead tar sand deposits are mined, usually using strip mining or open pit techniques, or the oil is extracted by underground heating with additional upgrading.
See the Photos page for additional photos of tar sand and tar sand mining.


Tar Sands Open Pit Mining, Albertaclick to view larger image
Tar Sands Open Pit Mining, Alberta, Canada

Tar sands are mined and processed to generate oil similar to oil pumped from conventional oil wells, but extracting oil from tar sands is more complex than conventional oil recovery. Oil sands recovery processes include extraction and separation systems to separate the bitumen from the clay, sand, and water that make up the tar sands. Bitumen also requires additional upgrading before it can be refined. Because it is so viscous (thick), it also requires dilution with lighter hydrocarbons to make it transportable by pipelines.


Tar Sands Resources

Tar Sands Resources, Utahclick to view larger image
Primary Tar Sands Resources in Utah

Much of the world's oil (more than 2 trillion barrels) is in the form of tar sands, although it is not all recoverable. While tar sands are found in many places worldwide, the largest deposits in the world are found in Canada (Alberta) and Venezuela, and much of the rest is found in various countries in the Middle East. In the United States, tar sands resources are primarily concentrated in Eastern Utah, mostly on public lands. The in-place tar sands oil resources in Utah are estimated at 12 to 19 billion barrels.

See the Maps page for additional maps of tar sands resources in Utah.

Utah Tar Sands Estimated In-Place Resources

Deposit Known (MMB) Additional Projected (MMB)
Sunnyside 4,400 1,700
Tar Sand Triangle 2,500 420
PR Spring 2,140 2,230
Asphalt Ridge 830 310
Circle Cliffs 590 1,140
Other 1,410 1,530
Total: 11,870 7,330

The Tar Sands Industry

Currently, oil is not produced from tar sands on a significant commercial level in the United States; in fact, only Canada has a large-scale commercial tar sands industry, though a small amount of oil from tar sands is produced commercially in Venezuela. The Canadian tar sands industry is centered in Alberta, and more than one million barrels of synthetic oil are produced from these resources per day. Currently, tar sands represent about 40% of Canada's oil production, and output is expanding rapidly. Approximately 20% of U.S. crude oil and products come from Canada, and a substantial portion of this amount comes from tar sands. The tar sands are extracted both by mining and in situ recovery methods (see below). Canadian tar sands are different than U.S. tar sands in that Canadian tar sands are water wetted, while U.S tar sands are hydrocarbon wetted. As a result of this difference, extraction techniques for the tar sands in Utah will be different than for those in Alberta.

Recently, prices for crude oil have again risen to levels that may make tar-sands-based oil production in the United States commercially attractive, and both government and industry are interested in pursuing the development of tar sands oil resources as an alternative to conventional oil.

Tar Sands Extraction and Processing

Tar Sands Open Pit Miningclick to view larger image
Tar Sands Open Pit Mining, Alberta, Canada

Tar sands deposits near the surface can be recovered by open pit mining techniques. New methods introduced in the 1990s considerably improved the efficiency of tar sands mining, thus reducing the cost. These systems use large hydraulic and electrically powered shovels to dig up tar sands and load them into enormous trucks that can carry up to 320 tons of tar sands per load.


Extraction Separation Cellclick to view larger image
Tar Sands Extraction Separation Cell, Alberta, Canada

After mining, the tar sands are transported to an extraction plant, where a hot water process separates the bitumen from sand, water, and minerals. The separation takes place in separation cells. Hot water is added to the sand, and the resulting slurry is piped to the extraction plant where it is agitated. The combination of hot water and agitation releases bitumen from the oil sand, and causes tiny air bubbles to attach to the bitumen droplets, that float to the top of the separation vessel, where the bitumen can be skimmed off. Further processing removes residual water and solids. The bitumen is then transported and eventually upgraded into synthetic crude oil.

See the Photos page for additional photos of tar sand processing facilities.

About two tons of tar sands are required to produce one barrel of oil. Roughly 75% of the bitumen can be recovered from sand. After oil extraction, the spent sand and other materials are then returned to the mine, which is eventually reclaimed.

In-situ production methods are used on bitumen deposits buried too deep for mining to be economically recovered. These techniques include steam injection, solvent injection, and firefloods, in which oxygen is injected and part of the resource burned to provide heat. So far steam injection has been the favoured method. Some of these extraction methods require large amounts of both water and energy (for heating and pumping).

Both mining and processing of tar sands involve a variety of environmental impacts, such as global warming and greenhouse gas emissions, disturbance of mined land; impacts on wildlife and air and water quality. The development of a commercial tar sands industry in the U.S. would also have significant social and economic impacts on local communities. Of special concern in the relatively arid western United States is the large amount of water required for tar sands processing; currently, tar sands extraction and processing require several barrels of water for each barrel of oil produced, though some of the water can be recycled.

For More Information

Additional information on tar sands is available through the Web. Visit the Links page to access sites with more information.


May 28, 2012

Bitumen Tanker Overturns

VADODARA: A tanker carrying bitumen turned over near Godhra. Hot bitumen was spilled on the road as a consequence and the road was closed for traffic late on Friday afternoon.

The tanker had filled bitumen from Vadodara and was on its way to Godhra. It was to be emptied at a road construction site near the town. The impact of the accident led to damage to the container filled with bitumen that spilled on the road.

The traffic remained closed for about 90 minutes after the accident at 4p.m.

The traffic on Godhra bypass had to be diverted through the town due to the accident. It began after the bitumen cooled down.

Source- The Times of India

May 23, 2012

Zambia Reopens Bitumen Plant

THE government says the reopening of the bitumen production plant at Indeni Refinery in Ndola will help reduce the cost of road construction in the country.

Indeni used to produce bitumen as a by-product of crude oil processing but the plant was closed down after the machinery and equipment became obsolete.

In an interview yesterday, energy permanent secretary George Zulu said the government was spending US$20 million to refurbish the plant whose commissioning is set for this October.

"It will have a capacity of 400 tonnes per day and this will be sufficient for local requirements and we shall be able to export some quantities. We are happy because the reopening of the plant will help reduce the cost of road construction since bitumen is a major component," said Zulu.

"The bitumen plant will have drum filling facilities and now the residue of crude oil will be put to good use as compared to the current situation where everything is lost after refining crude oil."

Last week, Sable Transport and Contractors managing director Iqbal Alloo observed that non-availability of bitumen and heavy rainfall in some parts of the country affected progress on most road works being undertaken by the company.

by Kabanda Chulu
Source - Zambianews 

May 15, 2012

NewYork Aspahlt Turning Green

Since fights over sustainable streets usually involve bike lanes, pedestrian plazas and traffic initiatives like congestion pricing, you may be surprised to learn that the city's pothole-strewn black roads are one of New York's greenest components. That's because over the last fiscal year, the city Department of Transportation ripped 300,000 tons of potholed or damaged asphalt off the ground, carted it to city-run facilities and reconstituted it back into usable pavement, effectively recycling the city's roads.

This practice, inevitably, has given rise to its own controversy.

At a City Council transportation meeting last week, committee chair James Vacca said, “Many have raised concerns that the increase of potholes around our city is linked to the use of recycled asphalt, even though the federal studies have shown that recycled asphalt is just as good as new.”

Vacca, a Democrat from the Bronx, was talking about a not-so-recent effort by the city Department of Transportation to use more recycled asphalt pavement, or RAP, when resurfacing roads.
Even though New York City is the country's biggest road recycler, some critics, like Councilman James Oddo, Republican of Staten Island, fear that water can easily permeate RAP pavement and break it down over time. Oddo said he was sharing concerns he had been hearing from regional asphalt contractors.

“Basically, as best as I can understand it, they tell me we’ll press it, we’ll put it down, it will look great, it will pass the initial tests that the agency will do for the week or month," he said to D.O.T officials during the hearing. "But long-term it will not have the same longevity and durability as other types of asphalt.”
Deputy transportation commissioner Galileo Orlando responded: “We believe that RAP has a place in this industry.”

With 6,300 miles of roads matched with increasing oil prices, new road technologies are necessary to keep costs down. Recycling more pavement has been a D.O.T. goal for decades, but in recent years it's been linked to the sustainability framework in the Bloomberg administration's PlaNYC guidelines, making it an environmental issue rather than just a matter of cost-efficiency.
Last December, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a bill committing the city to make most city pavement contain at least 30 percent RAP by 2015 and for the D.O.T. to "encourage the greatest use of reclaimed asphalt pavement possible.”
(Three councilmembers voted against the bill, including Oddo.)

The pavement typically used in New York is cluster of rocks, finely crushed stones or sands and the glue-like asphalt cement binder. (Or, as city law defines it: “a dark brown to black bitumen pitch that melts readily and which appears in nature in asphalt beds or is produced as a by-product of the petroleum industry.”)

When old roads are torn up during milling, the D.O.T. brings the pavement to facilities like Brooklyn’s Hamilton Avenue plant, which processes 500,000 tons of asphalt a year. There, RAP is recycled and mixed with fresh asphalt. At the moment, that plant makes asphalt made up of 40 percent RAP; with a planned upgrade, the asphalt will be 50 percent RAP.

(Last summer, the D.O.T. Tumblr, The Daily Pothole, featured a multi-part tour of the plant, guided by Warmy, a personified chunk of pavement.)

And after a recent city acquisition of a plant in Willets Point, combined with experimentation with "warm mix" asphalts that can be spread in cooler temperatures, the Queens plant is expected to create 60-percent recycled asphalts.

Hussain Bahia, a professor at the University of Wisconsin’s Modified Asphalt Research Center, said there’s no scientific reason to avoid recycling asphalt. As he put it, it's that education hasn’t caught up with improved technology.

“It's education with producers, as well as education with the public,” Bahia said. “Look, this is a very different material and you can recycle it just like a plastic bottle. You can melt it and reshape it."
Bahia has 21 years of experience working as a pavement pioneer and spearheading research into new paving methods that involve polymers and have names like Superpave. He pointed out that in recent years, producers have found ways to improve the bonds between binder, “the black sticky stuff,” and the rocks in between, leaving less room for water to infiltrate the bonds between the rocks and the binder.

"So really it's not a complex issue,” he said. “You have glue and you have rock, and we've improved the glue, we've improved the adhesive between the glue and the rock, and we've improved the selection of the rock to make it strong."

But one barrier is making sure the previous materials are as durable as new ones, which requires safeguards.
"Now, New York is moving to 30 percent and I can guarantee you that the [D.O.T.] will put more restrictions on how to reformulate any recycled mix,” he said. “And that is needed, because they don't want people to arbitrarily just bring in rock or recycled asphalt and put it with the new mixes. You have to do the right analysis to make the new material better than the old.”

Recycling asphalt is going to be more important as the price of crude oil, a crucial component in asphalt tar, rises. Bahia said over the last five to six years, rising prices meant asphalt binder more than tripled from $200 to more $600 per ton.

But if education hasn’t caught up to technology, government investment in research and infrastructure lagging behind everything, as road traffic keeps growing. "If you look at, say, the other industries like the medical business and the other fields, R&D in this country is anywhere between three and five percent. It's a fraction, particularly, for road construction." He pointed out that government research is much less, about a quarter of one percent. “I mean, it's sad how much we depend on roads, and how much little we are investing in innovation and research,” he said. “And that needs to be changed. There is no need to throw [away] these recycled materials because there's science behind it.”

Margaret Cervarich, a public affairs and marketing executive at the Maryland-based National Asphalt Pavement Association, a national trade association with over 1,200 private companies and suppliers, agreed with the positive outlook for RAP.

“They’ve done a tremendous amount of research and they’ve found that recycled mixes can be as good as, but sometimes better than, mixes with all virgin materials," Cervarich said. "Nobody has yet identified a point at which you can’t keep recycling the materials. As far as we know, you can recycle and reuse it over and over again indefinitely."

Even though 100 million tons of recycled asphalt are reused each year, according to the most recent figures in a Federal Highway Administration Report, only 12 percent of the country's roads use RAP. In some other counties, like Japan, the percentage is much higher.
“In Japan, they just don’t do things, they invest a lot more in infrastructure than we do," said Cervarich. "They are not going to put down asphalt mixes that aren’t high quality. And yet, they figured out a way to do 50 percent recycled content.”

She said some of the resistance in America came from contractors and private suppliers who want to stick with “really, really, really proven science.”

“I mean what they’re doing is basically building something that basically has to last for X number of years, lets say 30 years,” she said. “And they want it to be right. They’re good public servants, they’re trying to do the right thing and if they have a procedure that’s been working for them for ten years or 20 years, they want to stick with that. They don’t want to make changes that could potentially have a bad outcome. Sometimes people are just so conservative, and I don’t mean that in a political way, but more of an emotional way, where it’s hard for them to make a change. They just prefer to do it the way they’ve always done it.”
Cervarich said she was excited by the potential of recycled asphalt. And she sounded like she meant it.

“Between 2009 and 2010, we saved three million tons of asphalt binder, which translates to 19 million barrels of asphalt cement,” she said. “That’s a big number. That is really an awesome number.”

By Dan Rosenblum 
Source- CapitalNewyork

Cement to replace Bitumen

The poor state of our roads has caught the attention of Cement Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (CMAN). At a one-day conference on Exploring cement-based option for sustainable road construction in Nigeria , held in conjunction with Business Day newspaper, they argued that having exceeded the local cement need, exploring cement based construction may hold the key to good and motorable roads. But experts have called for caution in its implementation to save the housing sector from crisis.

WITH 200,000 kilometres of roads, Nigeria can be said to be among countries with vast networks of roads. That is where it ends because most of the roads have become impassable. Of these roads, the Federal Government owns 18 per cent, states, 15 per cent and local governments, 67 per cent.

To improve the roads, the government is exploring Public Private Partnership (PPP) and collaborating with multilateral agencies. But cement producers believe that the commodity could go a long way in the government’s bid to rehabilitate them.

According to them, having met local consumption in cement, the excess could be deployed in road construction. CMAN Chairman, Mr Joseph Makoju said the group has witnessed installed local cement production capacity rise from about 3.0 metric tonnes per annum in 2003 to 28.0 metric tonnes. 

With this, he said, the nation has moved from being the world’s leading importer of cement in 2006 to that self sufficient today. He added that the nation has the poential of being net based on the exporter of the product based on the government’s 2002 policy on backward integration.He noted that the nation has been constructing roads with asphalt or laterite when cement could do the job better.

He said: "The major cause for the collapse of our road network has been identified as our poor maintenance culture. In search for a cost effective solution, it was natural therefore to search for an alternative surfacing material which when compared with asphalt will require minimal maintenance hence our interest in cement concrete roads for Nigeria. Benchmarking against international practice, it is worthy to note that about 40 per cent of the roads in developed countries such as US, Germany etc are made of cement concrete, where as it is only about two per cent in emerging economy countries such as India and less than 0.1 in Nigeria." 

He revealed that CMAN is not without an enlightened self interest in promoting the use of cement for concrete road construction but added that the summit is not in any way geared toward a marketing campaign to expand sales of cement but sees the gathering as a serious contribution to finding a cost effective and sustainabe solution to the problem of the nation’s collapsed national road network. In his address ,Ogun State Governor Ibukunle Amosun, while commending the thought behind the summit, advised stakeholders to look critically at the volume of cement being produced in the country to ensure that construction projects in other sectors apart from roads do not suffer a shortfall as a result of this innovation.

The governor, represented by the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Otunba Bimbo Ashiru, said as a state involved in massive infrastructure development any technology that will make construction of roads in the state cheaper and better will be fully embraced and supported by the administration.

Minister of Works, Mr Mike Onolemehen, in his keynote address, said government has identified inadequate planning, poor design, ineffective supervision, lack of strong quality assuarance and inadequate funding as some of the challenges affecting the nation’s road infrastructure.

He said though flexible asphaltic pavement and concrete rigid pavement are the most common they all pose different challenges.  He said: " It is well known that while the design life of concrete roads is between 35 and 50 years as against 20 to 25 years for flexible asphalt pavement, the cost of concrete roads is considerably high. However, the concrete pavement requires less frequent maintenance." 

In his remarks, Governor Babatunde Fashola noted that extensive importation of cement prior to recent events in the industry has made the option very expensive. He, however, added that availability in right quantity and specification makes cement utilisation option more attractive to government. While stating that technical, environmental and user friendly quantities of pavement roads make it an interesting option, Fashola said the views of the summit and its recommendations will go a long way in assisting the government to move in this direction.

In a swift reaction, National Publicity Secretary, Nigeria Institute of Building (NIOB), Mr Kunle Awobodu said the nation is yet to feel the impact of the claims of CMAN on meeting local demand of cement needs of the people as a bag still sells for between N1,900 and N2,000 in certain places in Lagos. He said the suggestion to use concrete in road construction can be best described as an acedemic exercise as the group is yet to satisfy the building sector. 

He said: "We will be happy if the price of cement is reduced considerably and people are able to build their houses then we can support it being used for road construction. Cement no doubt is more durable than asphalt though more expensive. We are where we are today in terms of the quality of our roads because we have failed to exploit the large bitumen deposit and our roads are left to deteriorate with no maintenance culture." 

The NIOB boss warned that possible reduction of the price of cement in the coming months should not be mistaken for availability, rather because of the approach of rainy season which usually dampens construction activity. Awobodu stressed that any analysis during the rainy season on cement will be based on false and spurious judgement which cannot stand the test of time.

According to him, if the new line of thinking is pursued by the government, the housing sector will suffer because people cannot afford the cement they need to build their houses.A highway engineer, Afolabi Adedeji, said the argument on concrete based option for the nation roads is not out of place as it is in use in advanced countries. 

On some of the advantages of concrete based options, he said it lasts from 40 years and above while asphalt is for 10 to 15 years making it more durable for construction though more expensive. 

He said: "Asphlat based road can be used after three to four hours of application while concrete based roads takes about 28 days to develop full strenght which delays road construction except additives are added to make it firm up. In places where they can afford to put the road out of use for a long time its more advisable to use concrete based".

Source - The Nation

May 12, 2012

Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage Bitumen Production

Southern Pacific is pleased to announce expansion plans for its steam assisted gravity drainage ("SAGD") STP-McKay Thermal Project. Upon completion of the expansion, 

STP-McKay Phase 1 will have a bitumen processing design capacity of 18,000 bbl/d. The expansion is anticipated to significantly reduce future overall capital costs in the entire project and accelerate the Company's production growth forecast. Southern Pacific's internal technical team have identified a unique opportunity to expand the existing STP-McKay Phase 1 central process facilities ("Phase 1 Expansion") by as much as 50% (6,000 bbl/d of bitumen based on a steam-oil ratio ("SOR") of 2.8) at an estimated cost of approximately $25,000 per barrel of designed capacity, or $150 million, including additional well pairs. The expansion plans have been in the engineering design phase for three months and based on analysis over that period, the Company has elected to proceed with expanding STP-McKay Phase 1 prior to the construction of STP-McKay Phase 2. 

The expansion takes advantage of excess capacity that was incorporated into the original design and construction of Phase 1. Phase 1 currently has additional water treatment capacity that can be accessed with minimal capital investment, allowing the facility to treat approximately 50,400 bbl/d of water. Additional steam generation will be required to convert an incremental 16,400 bbl/d (50,400 bbl/d total) of treated water to steam.

 An additional cogeneration turbine will be required to supplement the power demand of the expanded facilities. The remainder of the facility expansion will be limited to piping modifications and small equipment additions. The entire expansion will fit comfortably within the existing Phase 1 Central Process Facility ("CPF") site, making this expansion both cost effective and environmentally responsible.
Approval for the Phase 1 Expansion will be incorporated into the STP-McKay Phase 2 approval process. An application for Phase 2 was submitted in November, 2011. Phase 2 is a separate facility, located approximately 5 km east of Phase 1 and on the east side of the McKay River. Southern Pacific plans to provide an update to the application which will include the plans for the 6,000 bbl/d Phase 1 Expansion. Concurrently, the Phase 2 project design capacity will be reduced from the proposed 24,000 bbl/d to 18,000 bbl/d, resulting in the total STP-McKay project area retaining the same overall capacity of 36,000 bbl/d of bitumen. 

There are a number of advantages to this approach. Phase 2 will be designed using a very similar design to Phase 1.. This is anticipated to reduce the total capital cost for Phase 2, which was originally designed with two integrated 12,000 bbl/d facility streams. The overall layout of Phase 2 will likely be smaller, further reducing cost and environmental footprint. From a reserves perspective, having additional capacity in Phase 1 will better balance the capacity and reserve distribution between the west and east sides of the McKay River, which will minimize the requirement for future river crossings. 

Southern Pacific does not expect this revision to significantly delay the application approval process as the changes are minimal from an environmental or regulatory perspective; virtually every modification can be viewed as an improvement to the overall scheme. Southern Pacific has already consulted with the Alberta regulators on the modification, and the appropriate steps are being taken to accommodate the new Phase 1 Expansion plans within the original Phase 2 application. Additionally, the Phase 1 Expansion can be expedited quickly upon approval, with a current estimate of only nine months to construct. This will provide the Company with accelerated cash flow from the 6,000 bbl/d expansion, prior to Phase 2 start up. Assuming regulatory approval occurs in the fourth quarter of 2013, expansion volumes could be realized from Phase 1 before the end of 2014. 

The Phase 1 Expansion is significant to STP; it enhances the ability of the Company to grow internally. Expected cash flow using current pricing from STP-Senlac and STP-McKay Phase 1, coupled with STP's existing debt facilities could fully provide funding necessary for the Phase 1 Expansion. Further along those lines, the Company would expect lower costs of capital funding for the Phase 2 project with the expanded cash flows from the Phase 1 Expansion and lower Phase 2 capital costs. 

STP-McKay Phase 1 Construction Update
Construction of STP-McKay Phase 1 continues to advance very well. All of theCPF equipment packages and modules have been delivered to site. The permanent operating team is now fully staffed with 45 Southern Pacific employees; they are deployed on the project site and preparing for start up and operations. Commissioning of the CPF is expected to commence in mid-May and will begin with the cogen plant, which will supply permanent power. From there, a sequential start-up of various CPF process systems will occur, and first steam is anticipated to be delivered to the SAGD well pairs towards the end of June, 2012. After first steam, the wellbores will be circulated and warmed with steam for a period of three to four months after which bitumen production will commence. It is expected to take approximately 12 months for production to ramp up to capacity after steam circulation has been completed. 

The project's total projected capital cost estimate remains at $440 million, as compared to the original budget of $450 million. As of March 31st, 2012 approximately $400 million of capital has been incurred or committed on the project. As most of the equipment and modules have been included in the incurred amount, the remaining capital estimate is not expected to vary significantly through to the conclusion of the construction and start up. It should also be noted that the cost estimate includes $15 million of additional scope changes to the original design that were added to further increase the reliability of the overall process and these additions will also be utilized within the Phase 1 Expansion. 

Arrangements for the transportation and marketing of the bitumenproduction out of the STP-McKay Thermal Project are currently being finalized. The Company will release more details upon completion of these arrangements. 

Soruce - Marketwire 

May 10, 2012

Rising Demand for Polymer Modifed Bitumen

Rising demand for polymer applications to drive global styrene-butadiene-styrene (SBS) block copolymer market
It is expected to further drive the demand for butadiene which will result increasing price-trends for styrene-butadiene-styrene block copolymer (SBS) in the near future.

Styrene-butadiene-styrene block copolymer (SBS) is a unique copolymer with extensive application, largest output, and lowest cost. SBS offers excellent surface friction coefficient, little permanent deformation, great tensile strength, excellent low-temperature behavior, great workability and good electric property. The polymer is extensively used in applications such as shoemaking, asphalt modification, polymer modification, liquid seal materials, waterproof coatings, electric wires, automobile components, electric cables and medical apparatuses among several others. Currently the SBS market continues to face crunch emanating from rising prices of crude oil. The effect of such volatility on end-use applications and regional downstream markets is particularly significant as the industry derives its raw material from the petrochemical industry. Conditions in almost all parts of the world including the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Asia, North and South America, as well as Africa have an increasing global implication on supply and demand for petrochemicals and raw materials. However, the prospects for the global Styrene-Butadiene-Styrene (SBS) Block Copolymer and its development continue to appear positive. SBS sales are expected to increase as a result of global expansion in the compounding and adhesive applications, as well as due to the enhanced penetration of modified asphalts into roadway and roofing construction.

The polymer industry continued to be under pressure driven by supply and pricing dynamics in early 2011. With the supply of raw materials such as butadiene remaining tight and demand improving, the industry currently faces difficulty in competing against other higher-margin industries for supply. Butadiene prices are expected to increase further in future along with a steady rise in demand, which is expected to further spike the prices for styrene-butadiene-styrene (SBS). SBS prices climbed up by 18% in 2010. During the 1st quarter of 2011, prices increased by 5% and are further expected to climb by 5% each quarter for the remaining year. With the price of natural latex rubber reaching new highs in recent years, the industry is witnessing a continuous shift in the tire manufacturing industry, towards styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) and styrene-isoprene-styrene (SIS). This is expected to further drive the demand for butadiene, hence scaling up the prices for SBS.

Asphalt Modification is the largest end-use application area for SBS in terms of volume sales. SBS is an effective asphalt modifier that is utilized in road asphalt modification and modified asphalt waterproof coiled material. SBS finds extensive application in wall bodies of several structures such as bathrooms, toilets, basements, bridges, cold storage chambers, airports, commercial buildings, highways, high-volume interstates, intersections and others. Market for polymer modification holds substantial potential for the SBS market and finds extensive application in vehicle steering wheels/bumpers, sealing parts and electric components. Polymer modification improves the environmental impact of road construction by enabling lesser need for raw materials and creating a safer and more durable road surface.

Asia-Pacific dominates the global sphere as the single largest and fastest growing regional market for SBS both in value and volume terms, as stated by the new market research report on Styrene-Butadiene-Styrene (SBS) Block Copolymer. The fastest growth in demand for styrene is forecast in the Middle East, China, Eastern and Central Europe, and Central and South America. On the basis of the current announcements for capacity expansion, Mexico, Thailand, India together with other Asian countries are expected to remain the net importers while the US, Japan, Canada, Singapore, the Middle East, and the Republic of Korea, are likely to remain net exporters until 2013.

Key manufacturers are China National Petroleum Corporation, Dexco Polymers LP, Dynasol Elastomers, Kraton Performance Polymers, LCY Chemical Corp, Polimeri Europa, ShenZhen Yanshan Petrochemical, Sinopec Baling Company Petrochemical Co., among others.

Anon: Rising Demand for Polymer Applications to Drive Global Styrene-Butadiene-Styrene (SBS) Block Copolymer Market,, May 03, 2012.

Source - Bitumenengineering 

May 5, 2012

Asphalt Roofing

The state Office of General Services will begin receiving bids on or about May 16 to install an asphalt roof on the state Department of Transportation’s new regional headquarters at 50 Wolf Road in Colonie, New York.
The project, which calls for installing a modified bitumen roof, has an estimated value of $2.5 million to $3.5 million.

Bid documents will be available for purchase on or about May 16. The bids are due on or about June 6.
As is typical with most state construction projects, the contract will include an early completion bonus for substantially finishing the project during this construction season.

DOT officials encourage interested bidders to attend a pre-bid meeting. A date for that meeting has not been set yet.

Reported By -  , Source- BizJournals

May 3, 2012

Soaring Bitumen Prices hits Malta

Asphalt price hikes may hit road building

Asphalt is made by mixing aggregate with bitumen, which in turn is mainly obtained as a residual product from petroleum refineries after higher fractions like gas, petrol, kerosene and diesel are removed.
Since 2009 the price of bitumen has shot up. Its price fluctuates with the price of oil, which currently stands at nearly $ 120 per barrel.

The present situation is being compounded by difficulties that road contractors are facing to procure bitumen from just five suppliers on the island, themselves road contractors.
This has already led to a slowdown in the government's residential roadwork programme. Now, with no contractors committing themselves to carry out jobs unless the rates are revised, the whole programme risks coming to a standstill.

The deteriorating situation became evident last week when road projects in Luqa, Birżebbuġa, Żejtun and Mellieħa stalled. One of the projects received no bids while the other three received bids with a proviso: that the work could not be carried out at the rates agreed upon four years ago.
Bad roads and potholes are the island's scourge so this situation is likely to fuel motorists' frustration.
Transport Malta has asked the Director of Contracts to put in motion a clause in the 2009 framework agreement signed with 14 road contractors that allows for the rates to be re-negotiated. The framework agreement expires at the end of this year.

Sources said auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has been engaged to verify the new rates being proposed by contractors so that they would at least be able to cover their costs.

The government had signed a framework agreement under which road projects are assigned to different contractors at pre-agreed rates. It ensured that work could proceed at a fast pace as there was no need for calls for tenders – jobs were awarded to contractors according to what they could take on.
More than 400 residential roads have been constructed since 2008, most of them for the first time, with another 100 programmed by the end of the year. Around half of these had been promised prior to the last general election.

By  Matthew Xuereb -Source- Times of Malta