June 29, 2012

Bitumen By Rail

Southern Pacific Resources Corp Calgary, has completed a long-term agreement to ship bitumen by rail to the US Gulf Coast in a system it says will improve production netbacks at its STP-McKay thermal oil sands project west of Fort McMurray, Alta.

The producer says the arrangement, with the Canadian railroad CN, will increase the value of bitumen at the production site by lowering shipping costs relative to pipeline transport.

Rail shipment requires about 33% less process diluent than what is necessary to meet pipeline specifications, Southern Pacific said. And return-trip rail cars can supply the project with low-cost Gulf Coast diluent.
The arrangement also provides pricing advantages, according to a press statement.

“The Gulf Coast market for heavy crude currently trades at a premium to WTI [West Texas Intermediate], whereas Alberta-based blended bitumen and diluent products arriving by pipeline into the Cushing, Okla., region of the US are experiencing significant pricing discounts due to capacity constraints,” the statement said.

The system

Under the arrangement with CN, bitumen will be trucked 38 miles from the STP-McKay site, 28 miles northwest of Fort McMurray, to a rail terminal at Lynton. From there, rail cars will carry the material 2,800 miles over CN’s network to Natchez, Miss., for transfer into barges that will carry it down the Mississippi River to Gulf Coast refineries.

Southern Pacific expects shipments to begin in the fourth quarter this year, eventually reaching 12,000 carloads/year.

The STP-McKay project, still under development, will use steam-assisted gravity drainage to produce 12,000 b/d in an initial stage, which Southern Pacific has indicated will be expanded to 18,000 b/d (OGJ Online, May 11, 2012). A second phase will push output to 24,000 b/d.

The Southern Pacific-CN arrangements have an average term of 5 years with options for extension. The companies are discussing elimination of the trucking link with construction of a pipeline or rail link between the project site and Lynton terminal.

Either option would reduce diluent needs, Southern Pacific said. The arrangement gives the producer flexibility to deliver bitumen elsewhere in North America, including export terminals on the West Coast.
A CN executive said the railroad expects to move about 25,000 carloads of crude oil this year, five times the number of last year.

Source- Oil & Gas Journal

June 27, 2012

Hot Mix Streets Ahead

ORANGE City Council’s plans to resurface 20 blocks of the central business district and beyond with hot mix asphalt will take at least a decade to achieve.

The main driver of the policy, Cr Glenn Taylor, said council’s report to gradually resurface every bitumen street in Orange was a “good start”. “We can’t do this overnight but it’s definitely a step in the right direction,” he said. “It’s managerable and it’s not going to blow the budget. “We’ll reap the benefits in the long run.”

Car enthusiast Denis Gregory welcomed the move towards hot mix, saying the smoother surface is safer and more cost-effective.

Council will not spend more on roads but will instead fund a 2.5 per cent increase in hot mix resurfacing each year by cutting 25 per cent of bitumen reseal programs, technical services director Chris Devitt said in a report.

Bitumen at $4.50 per square metre is expected to last 10 years, meaning it costs council 45 cents per square metre a year over its life. Hot mix, at a cost of $24 per square metre with a 25 year lifespan, costs the council 96 cents per year.

“[Hot mix] is around twice as expensive as a bitumen reseal from a lifecycle cost viewpoint, but provides a much higher level of service due to the superior ride quality, reduced traffic noise and less ongoing maintenance,” Mr Devitt said.

Mr Gregory said potholes appearing days after roads are resurfaced with bitumen could be a thing of the past if hot mix became the norm. “There’s potholes everywhere now, Woodward Street is like a minefield,” he said. “[Hot mix] is safer if someone wants to stop suddenly because it grips better than bitumen.
“It’s an excellent surface.” Cr Taylor said the community applauded council for every street that was resurfaced and understood the costs.

“In the foreseeable future we’ll have a much better road network,” he said.
“It’s a step that’s affordable and hopefully future councils would find more funds somewhere.”

colley@ruralp ress.com

June 26, 2012

Greener Way to Get Bitumen

Late last March, an Alberta engineer appeared before a House Subcommittee on Energy and Power in Washington, D.C. Dressed in a black suit fitted to his narrow frame and speaking in a soft, careful tone, John Nenniger, CEO of Calgary-based technology firm N-Solv Corp., read closely from a prepared statement, making darting glances now and then towards the front of the room.

"As a scientist," he told the subcommittee, which was focused that day on Canada's oil sands, "I view extravagant claims with great skepticism, unless they can be supported with compelling evidence."
The lawmakers listening might have felt a little skepticism of their own: Nenniger had just finished making some pretty extravagant claims himself.

N-Solv's proprietary technology, the Canadian claimed, could dramatically reduce the energy needed to produce bitumen from oil sands, slashing emissions of greenhouse gasses by 85 per cent. It could do this without using any water. And it could potentially make oil sands production twice as profitable.
Nenniger's "compelling evidence" came from years of lab tests which suggest that solvents such as propane or butane can melt and recover underground bitumen deposits much more efficiently than the prevailing method of high-pressure injections of super-hot steam. Still, Nenniger's claims will remain unproven at least until April 2013, when a $60-million field test near Fort McMurray is scheduled to produce its first oil.
Meanwhile there's a deeper tension straining Nenniger's project -- and any other attempt to "green" the oil sands.

That is this: even if the entire industry became fully carbon neutral, so that its recovery of petroleum from buried bitumen released not a single additional molecule of carbon to the atmosphere, its products --gasoline, diesel, jet fuel -- would continue to do so the moment they were burned.So: is it worth cleaning up a sector that strengthens our dependence on the very same fossil fuels that created our global warming crisis?

Nenniger thinks it is. The "most pragmatic" way to address the "profound moral dilemma" of climate change, he told his Washington audience, is "finding profitable ways to produce cleaner oil."That appears to be the thinking of the Alberta government as well. During her recent election campaign Premier Alison Redford pledged $3 billion over the next 20 years to help stimulate oil sands innovation.But others I heard from contested such a "harm reduction" approach as nonsensical, a waste of precious time and resources.  

The debate gets little media attention, but its implications are felt widely, from affecting Canada's prospects for making real reductions in our climate footprint, to offering insight into what environmentalists hope to achieve from picking the battles they do. 

A 'revolution' over decades

Within the oil sands industry, technologies like the one Nenniger promises are known as "revolutionary": long-term bets on new ideas that could, one day, completely change the way bitumen is produced.
Given the intense international scrutiny of oil sands emissions, and the potential to vastly increase profits, you might think bitumen producers would be lining up outside Nenniger's Calgary office.
But revolutionary innovation by its nature disrupts existing technology. In the oil sands, that could mean risking multi-billion-dollar investments in projects expected to operate with their original design technology for three decades or longer.

"You just can't jump from the lab bench" to operating scale, Syncrude executive Eric Newell once told The Globe and Mail. "We've been burned too many times… You have to have a very disciplined approach to how you bring new technology on."

That's not to say revolutionary transitions can't happen. They can and do.Most commonly cited is the ongoing shift from traditional oil sands strip-mining operations to "in situ" operations. But even the switch from giant holes in the ground to melting buried bitumen with injections of high pressure steam took more than 20 years from its first field pilot test (the stage Nenniger hopes to reach next year) to wide-scale adoption. Easier to embrace, said Jackie Forrest, global oil senior director for the U.S.-based energy consultancy IHS-CERA, are "evolutionary" innovations; stuff that can be "bolted onto existing infrastructure." 

Tweaking the footprint

A good example is Cenovus, which has some of the most efficient operations in the entire industry, and made the striking announcement last October that its oil was "green" enough to meet California's contentious low-carbon fuel standard. The company is now running experiments that tweak existing in-situ technology. At its Christina Lake operation, Cenovus adds small volumes of butane to the steam injection process, reducing the amount of energy -- and therefore emissions -- needed to produce a barrel of oil.
By 2016, when the company's 130,000 barrel-per-day Narrows Lake operation is up and running, if all goes to plan, that innovation will improve its overall energy efficiency by about 15 per cent.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), which declined to be interviewed for this series, celebrates such technological triumphs. It often brags that its members cut the amount of greenhouse gas released in producing a barrel of bitumen (the product's carbon "intensity") by 29 per cent between 1990 and 2009.

It more rarely points out that overall oil sands emissions grew by 148 per cent during the same period, due to massive increases in production. There are other reasons as well to be suspect of CAPP's narrative of seamless and endless incremental improvement. The Calgary-based industry group announced last December that a decade's worth of emissions progress in the oil sands had actually reversed. Oil sands greenhouse gas intensity grew two per cent between 2009 and 2010. Overall emissions went up as well, by 14 per cent.

This is mostly a function, CAPP explained, of the industry's ongoing embrace of in-situ technology. As is often the case with human ingenuity, today's solution becomes tomorrow's problem.
In-situ bitumen recovery has nowhere near mining's impact on ravaged boreal forests. But heating all that water into steam requires vast amounts of natural gas, releasing far more greenhouse emissions.
How Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage process works for extracting bitumen 'in situ.' Illustration: CBC.

Last year, Alberta's in situ operations alone emitted an estimated 19 megatons of CO2, equivalent to the annual climate impact of 3.7 million cars.That number will almost certainly rise: an estimated 80 per cent of remaining bitumen reserves are accessible only by the higher-emission process.

Hitting an efficiency limit

What's more, industry leaders such as Cenovus admit there's only so much they can do to improve technology's performance.Technical innovation can improve an operator's energy efficiency, or "steam-to-oil ratio" by about 20 to 40 per cent for any given bitumen deposit, Jon Mitchell, Cenovus team lead for environment policy and strategy, told Tyee Solutions. 

But, he added, "The reservoir is a primary driver." That is, the quality of bitumen reserves being tapped largely determines how much energy it takes to extract.And that could mean an uphill fight for oil sands producers in coming decades just to maintain the greenhouse gas progress they've achieved so far.
Why? Because, "first generation oil sands projects selected the very best parts of the oil sands deposit," as a 2010 report from IHS-CERA, the respected energy consultancy, explained. "A general future trend toward lower-quality reservoirs is expected."

Source - The Tyee

June 25, 2012

Canada's Export of Raw Bitumen

An Enbridge worker skims oil from the Kalamazoo River after a pipeline ruptured in Marshall, Mich.(July 27, 2010)
An Enbridge worker skims oil from the Kalamazoo River after a pipeline ruptured in Marshall, Mich

Canada’s energy strategy is determined in the boardrooms of a handful of multinational corporations and by the governments of foreign countries through their national oil companies. The strategy is supported by the vast changes in the budget bill that was rushed through the parliamentary approval process by the Harper government.
The corporate plan consists of rapidly extracting oilsands heavy crude called bitumen, mixing it with diluent to allow it to flow through pipelines and exporting it as diluted bitumen (dilbit) to the U.S. gulf coast and Asia.
Bitumen is dense and needs to be mixed with diluent before it can flow through a pipeline. Canada doesn’t produce enough, so diluent is being imported in increasing amounts. That’s why Enbridge built the Southern Lights pipeline flowing north from Chicago to Edmonton in 2010, and why their Northern Gateway project includes a twin pipeline to import diluent from offshore markets.

If bitumen is upgraded in Alberta, less pipeline capacity is needed. Not only are dedicated lines required to import diluent, by the time it mixes with bitumen to get it flowing, roughly 30 per cent more volume is created necessitating even more pipeline capacity. Dilbit is toxic and environmentally challenging. Unlike conventional oil, when dilbit hits water, the diluent evaporates and heavy bitumen sinks.

Bitumen’s chemical properties present significant cleanup and restoration challenges. Just ask the people of Marshall, Mich., where more than 20,000 barrels of dilbit spilled from Enbridge’s line 6B in July 2010. Much of it reached the Kalamazoo River. Almost two years later and $765 million in cleanup costs, less than five of the 63 kilometres of affected waterway have been reopened.

Shipping raw bitumen exports our upgrading and refining potential to other countries along with capital investment and high-paying value-added jobs. Canada’s energy strategy is hollowing out manufacturing and other sectors hurt by an artificially inflated dollar, but it’s also hollowing out the oil sector’s processing potential.

This wasn’t always the case. In 2008 there were a number of upgrading and refinery projects planned in Alberta to complement the industry’s growing bitumen supply forecasts. Then came the financial crisis and upgrading and refinery potential was moved to the U.S. and offshore. Bitumen output has recovered but domestic downstream processing has not.

The next step? We will be told Canadian refineries are not competitive and need to shut down. This will hurt eastern Canada the hardest. We’ll end up importing our petroleum products from “more productive” foreign markets. Only after it’s too late to take remedial action will the value of the Canadian dollar plummet and more accurately reflect the gutting of industrial capacity now taking place.

Requiring bitumen be upgraded before it’s exported would have significant environmental and economic advantages for Canada — that’s why Stephen Harper promised during his re-election campaign in 2008 that raw bitumen would not be exported to Asia. His government continued to publicly extol this policy until Enbridge filed its application for Northern Gateway in June 2010 and made it clear to Harper what his policy actually needed to be.

Oil producers believe they will achieve higher prices for exported bitumen than upgrading in Alberta. When they do, they pass them onto Canadian consumers and businesses. Canada’s energy strategy means higher — not lower — petroleum product prices for Canadians. Enbridge has confirmed this in its economic benefit case for Northern Gateway.

Eastern Canada depends on foreign markets for most of its crude oil needs — the same markets the U.S. and China are trying to protect themselves from by importing our crude oil. What a meaningful energy strategy could do is ensure upgraded bitumen is shipped to eastern Canada. In the process, our trade balance improves bringing about a Canadian dollar driven by real, not inflationary, forces.

Financial gain for oil companies — many of them with interlocking refinery relationships in other countries, such as multinational Exxon Mobil’s Imperial Oil, Chinese government-owned Sinopec, and French multinational Total — is at the expense of an effective economic development strategy in Canada.
This is the core divisive force in the resource development debate — corporate interests, actively supported by the federal and Alberta governments — are at odds with the rest of the nation’s economic needs and environmental standards. This is the standoff. This is the line in the oilsands.

Canadians want an energy development plan that protects the long-term industrial needs of all regions of the country, along with a stable and sustainable pace of natural resource development. This strategy will not be developed in the boardrooms of the nation.

The rapid extraction and export of raw bitumen without domestic upgrading and refining does not enhance Canada’s productive capacity — it shrinks it. Exporting jobs and environmental standards along with bitumen does not provide employment opportunities and generate government revenues — it substitutes short-term construction employment for lost value-added jobs created by moving up the supply chain. Foreign countries understand this — that’s why they want our unprocessed bitumen.
Harper has said that pipelines, like Northern Gateway, are “in the national interest.” Mr. Harper, whose national interest are you referring to?

Robyn Allan is an independent economist and former CEO of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. She has written extensively on the economics of Northern Gateway and is a member of Canadians for the Great Bear. Her reports are available at www.robynallan.com

June 23, 2012

Re Application of Novel Oil Sands Project

E-T Energy Ltd., Calgary, indicated it will refile an application for commercial-scale production of bitumen in Alberta based on a proprietary electrical heating system.

The provincial Energy Resources Conservation Board returned an application filed in July 2009 saying the company hadn’t demonstrated that the system, ET-DSP (for electrothermal dynamic stripping process), can obtain or sustain commercial bitumen production rates. The ERCB cited a lack of production data.
E-T said the application didn’t include results of a crucial field test that remains in progress. It said the test, which it calls Step 3, won’t establish the recovery factor and energy-oil ratio required to produce bitumen until later this year or early next year.

The returned application was for a 10,000 b/d project. “In light of the recent decision by the ERCB, the timing of the Step 3 results, and weak capital markets, management will be considering other alternatives, including a smaller project building upon the existing Step 3 field test surface assets,” E-T said in a statement.
The company holds acreage in the Athabasca oil sands region adjacent to Fort McMurray. The ET-DSP system, based on a grid of production and electrode wells, has been used by the environmental industry for remediation of contaminated sites.

E-T wants to apply the technology to recovery of bitumen from Lower Cretaceous McMurray formation zones too deep to be mined, more than about 75 m, and too shallow to be produced by steam-assisted gravity drainage, less than about 150 m.

 By OGJ editors

Using Bitumen to Fuel Green Energy

Alberta already invests some carbon taxes in low emissions tech. But sky's the limit say industry insiders. Fifth in a series.

By Geoff Dembicki, Today, TheTyee.ca 

Wind farm near Pincher Creek
Road to a diversified economy: Wind farm near Pincher Creek, Alberta. Photo: Shutterstock.
Inside one of those towers are the offices of Greengate Power. To Alberta's leading producer of wind-powered electricity, the gusts blowing beyond the window represent money. A magazine displayed in the company's seventh-floor lobby had a cowboy on its cover, standing beneath two bone-white wind turbines.

"The challenge we have in Alberta," company founder and CEO Dan Balaban told me when we met in his sparsely furnished office down the hall, "is our need to diversify the economy beyond oil and gas."
One answer to that need, the green power executive thinks, is blowing across Alberta's prairies -- some of the strongest and most reliable, if under-utilized, wind resources in the entire world. Balaban hopes Greengate can ride those gusts into becoming the country's biggest independent producer of clean electricity.
But if there's an ill wind for Alberta's oil sands in the rise of clean energy, Balaban doesn't see it. Instead, he believes, the bitumen sector will find it difficult to expand without a lush green-energy sector alongside it.
"We're starting to see a backlash against Alberta's fossil fuel industry in some pretty meaningful ways," he said. "Demonstrating we have a vibrant renewable sector will help give us the social license we need."
Balaban's not the only Albertan, or the only executive, who sees the fates of clean energy and fossil fuels in Canada as closely tied. Alberta's government shares that view: for the past three years it’s invested revenue from the province's carbon-levy on large greenhouse gas emitters into a fund which supports low emissions technology.

Results so far have been modest -- leading critics to see a convenient way for major polluters to claim climate progress when little is actually being made.But as the scale of the climate challenge becomes clear, there are those who believe that radically experimental advances in technology are humanity's best shot at cooling the atmosphere.   

From the right vantage point in downtown Calgary, you can see past the city's western edge to where the prairie meets snow-capped Rocky Mountains. This abrupt change in elevation creates one of the most accessibly windy regions in the country, if not the world.A nascent wind-power industry has grown slowly over the past two decades to capture the resource. Wind turbines now supply about five per cent of Alberta's electricity needs, including the energy to run Calgary’s entire light rail system.

That figure is set to grow, especially with the construction of Greengate's 300 megawatt Blackspring Ridge project. When it's done, it will be the largest wind farm in Canada.Observers such as the Pembina Institute see huge potential as well for Alberta's hydro, biomass, geothermal, solar and cogeneration, among other low carbon energy sources.

Perhaps one day. But for now Alberta gets three-quarters of its electricity from the dirtiest fossil fuel of all, coal. Coal-fired power stations are the province's largest source of carbon emissions: 52.6 megatons in 2010 (although likely soon to be overtaken by oil sands emissions, which were 49 megatons that same year).
Standing street level in downtown Calgary, it's easy to lose sight of Greengate's seventh floor offices amidst the soaring towers that surround them, many branded by oil and gas company logos.  So too is Alberta's fledgling clean energy industry dwarfed by its fossil fuel counterpart.

Yet a provincial initiative now entering its third year of activity claims to be slowly turning that imbalance into a boon for global warming solutions. The Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC) was created in 2007, after Alberta introduced North America's first market price on industrial greenhouse gas emissions.

It was a selective price, complexly applied. Each year, the province's largest emitters, collectively responsible for half of Alberta's carbon footprint, were expected to meet a climate reductions target set by the government.

This target wasn't based on slashing their overall emissions, but on a 12 per cent cut to the emissions intensity of their operations -- the carbon released, say, to produce one barrel of oil. (How that target actually applies to each emitter is based on a complex time frame that varies by operation.)
Failing to meet their target by year's end meant these emitters had to pay a penalty on whatever emissions exceeded it. At $15 per tonne of CO2, that penalty was considered by some to be little more than a limp-wristed slap.

Nevertheless, it now raises about $74 million each year for the province. That revenue goes directly to the arms-length CCEMC, whose mandate is to invest it in promising low-emissions technology.
"The vision I think overall, is not to abandon traditional forms of energy development," CCEMC executive director Kirk Andries told The Tyee Solutions Society. "But rather, as we draw down on those resources, be thinking about building up renewable forms of energy."

There's an elegant symmetry to the idea at odds with a few hard economic facts. Since its inception in 2010, the CCEMC has approved 32 low emissions projects worth $167 million in all. Last year alone, total oil sands investment was about $15 billion.  Still, the Crown corporation claims that each dollar it invests is leveraged three to four times, bringing CCEMC's real impact closer to $830 million. It also argues that many technologies it funds wouldn't have been feasible without its support.  

One example it points to is a $2.65 million investment in Coastal Hydropower Corp.'s Carseland project, a plan to generate low-impact hydropower from the Bow River with "fish-friendly" underwater turbines.
"CCEMC funding is essential to the Carseland project," Coastal founder and president Neil Anderson says in the technology fund's annual report.

Or there's the $10 million the CCEMC has pledged to Biorefinex Canada Inc. That will help fund a demonstration facility outside Lacombe, Alberta, which turns organic animal waste (think carcasses and cattle feces) into renewable electricity and high-grade fertilizer.  Small technology start-ups like those aren't the only companies benefiting from CCEMC support. Some of Alberta's major greenhouse gas emitters have also applied for, and received, funding.

Suncor, for instance, which made $1.46 billion in net income in the first quarter of 2012, is using a $3.3 million CCEMC investment to research new ways of making oil sands operations more energy (and hence, carbon) efficient. Encana, Cenovus, ConocoPhillips and Nova Chemicals have also received financial backing.Andries was unapologetic about directing public money to some of Canada's most profitable, and most polluting, companies."We're here to pick the best projects possible," he said. "From my perspective, it doesn't matter what size of company it is. What matters is, how many tonnes of GHG are you going to reduce?"

Waiting for results

That's a question critics have asked more broadly of the CCEMC itself. The corporation claimed in its most recent annual report that projects it has supported to date will reduce Alberta's carbon footprint by 8 megatons by 2020, or about one sixth of the province's medium-term reduction target.

Pembina Institute calculations suggest that's optimistic. The non-partisan research body thinks CCEMC's venture will cut Alberta's emissions just one megaton by 2020, a fraction of the corporation’s estimate.
That perspective may be too short. Some CCEMC investments, Pembina acknowledged recently, "hold the promise of paving the way for greater emission reductions in the longer term.” Ultimately, it judged, "it is too soon to tell how effective" the technology fund will really be.

That hasn't stopped some oil sands producers from arguing that paying Alberta's $15 carbon levy, and thereby investing in the fund, is equivalent to reducing greenhouse gas emissions at their own operations.
"This strategy," Nexen claimed in documents it filed to the 2010 Carbon Disclosure Project, "is fiscally prudent and meets environmental objectives. A tonne of carbon [reduced] from any eligible/verifiable source has the same net environmental effect."

Which is technically true. But it's not the reality -- not yet. Paying the government's $15-a-tonee carbon levy is an investment in low-carbon technology, but it won't result in actual carbon reductions for years to come, or possibly ever.

Overall, Pembina has concluded that CCEMC's technology fund is, "inherently a mechanism that defers emission reductions until later."Depending on your perspective that's either a cynical way for government and industry to claim progress while deferring harder choices; or, it's a tantalizing wager on new technologies, that while untested and therefore risky, could pay off hugely in the future.

The snowball effect

That gamble has its proponents. Many climate thought leaders have expressed doubt that for all that binding targets, public exhortations, industrial regulations or even carbon pricing can accomplish, it won't be enough to solve our global warming crisis. The missing factor, those analysts say, is transformative technology, an overhaul of energy systems on par with the microchip revolution.

The best way to accomplish such a techno-revolution, McGill University economist Christopher Green and co-author Isabel Galiana argued in a 2009 paper for California's Breakthrough Institute (the group which has led much of this thinking), is robust support at the centre of any climate strategy for research and development of new technologies.They see a modest carbon tax, rising slowly over time, playing an important ancillary role as a reliable source of income to fund risky new low-carbon projects: almost exactly (minus the rising carbon tax) Alberta's plan.
Green acknowledged that Alberta’s approach, "might not do a lot on the emissions front" right now. "But when it starts paying off," he told The Tyee Solutions Society, "it could be like a snowball coming down a hill with wet snow, and having a tremendous effect in transforming the world's energy picture."
Leaned back in his office chair, Balaban, the Greengate Power CEO, is focused on a less dramatic transformation: proving to Canada's oil and gas capital that clean energy can deliver high economic performance alongside its environmental benefits.

He listed several ways Alberta could accelerate the business case for renewables: implement a clean energy standard, favour natural gas over coal, raise the province's carbon price. Yet even Balaban seems reticent about imagining a near future without hydrocarbons at all."I believe it's in all of Canada's interest that we have a healthy fossil fuel sector in Alberta," he said. "Increasingly this is a driver of the national economy."

Maybe Balaban is just a realist. Or perhaps this is how you build consensus for clean energy in a province that emits more than a third of Canada's greenhouse gases, by presenting your low-carbon sector as less of a rival to fossil hydrocarbons and more as an ally, whose vitality is in their best interest.

"To continue developing our fossil fuel-based resources we need to demonstrate that we're environmentally responsible," Balaban said of Alberta. Then comes the pitch: "We have the opportunity to exploit some of best renewable energy resources in the world."

The one, he believes, can clearly help the other.

Source -The Tyee

June 21, 2012

Solvent Extraction through Electromagnetic Heating

A group including three oil producers claims success in tests of a method for producing heavy oil with electrical heat from radio waves followed by solvent injection.

Tests at Suncor Energy’s Steepbank mine north of Fort McMurray, Alta., confirmed the ability to generate, propagate, and distribute electromagnetic heat in an oil sands formation, the group said.
The method is called Enhanced Solvent Extraction Incorporating Electromagnetic Heating (ESEIEH). It uses antenna technology developed by Harris Corp. to heat oil sands in conjunction with injection of an oil solvent to dilute and mobilize bitumen.

The group plans a field pilot next year. Members in addition to Suncor and Harris are Laricina Energy, Nexen Inc., and Climate Change and Emissions Management Corp.

Source- Oil & Gas Journal

Alberta's Conventional Crude Output

Alberta's conventional crude output rises for first time since 1995: ERCB

Houston (Platts)--20Jun2012/424 pm EDT/2024 GMT

Alberta is seeing a rise in its conventional crude production for the first time since 1995, primarily due to higher output from horizontal wells, the province's energy regulator said Wednesday.

Conventional crude oil production in Alberta rose 7% in 2011 to an average 490,000 barrels/day, a 7% increase compared with 2010, the Energy Resources Conservation Board said.

Raw bitumen crude production rose in 2011 to 1.7 million b/d, an 8% increase from 2010. The ERCB expects annual raw crude bitumen output will increase to 3.7 million b/d by 2021.

The province's total remaining crude bitumen and crude oil reserves were estimated at 170.2 billion barrels, 168.6 billion which are estimated to be bitumen and 1.5 billion which are estimated to be conventional crude.

Meanwhile, for the year-end 2011, the ERCB has reassessed the Athabasca Upper, Middle and Lower Grand Rapids deposits, as well as the Athabasca Nisku deposit, it said.

The review of the Grand Rapids deposits resulted in a 7% increase of total in-place crude bitumen resource to 58.4 billion barrels. The review of the Nisku deposit resulted in a 57% increase to 102 billion barrels of in-place resource.

The province's remaining conventional gas was estimated at 33.5 trillion cubic feet, a decrease of 8% from 2010. Its remaining established reserves of natural gas liquids were estimated at 1.6 billion barrels, down 3% from 2010.

Alberta's remaining established coal reserves are estimated at 37 billion tons, a slight decrease from 2010, the agency said.

--Lucretia Cardenas, lucretia_cardenas@platts.com --Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, keiron_greenhalgh@platts.com

Kazakastan's Bitumen Production

The Kyzylorda Region demonstrated its achievements on Industrialization Day, June 19. The region, which was primarily known for rice production, is gradually becoming an industrial area.

This was promoted by the industrial and innovative development program, according to local officials. A fair of consumer goods was organized here along with a round table session where entrepreneurs discussed the development of small and medium businesses.

The most active development belongs to the construction industry. The region built factories for the production of crushed stone, asphalt and bitumen to provide materials for an international project, the “Western Europe - Western China” transport corridor. Special attention is paid to the development of the oil and gas sector, particularly the Kumkol oil field.

Construction of a gas turbine power plant with a capacity of more than 700 million kilowatts of electricity was completed at the Akshabulak field within the accelerated industrialization program. The project will reduce the energy deficit in the region, as well as the amount of hazardous emissions into the atmosphere. Another environmental project will be completed in the Aral district. A mineral fertilizer plant for the development of greenhouse production is under construction here. Apart from that, two animal feed plants and 50 greenhouses are planned to be built in Kyzylorda.

Source- Caspionet

June 20, 2012

Bitumen Spill at Sea

A cargo vessel carrying 6,000 metric tons of natural bitumen broke apart in rough seas off the coast of Pangasinan yesterday, sending its cargo washing up on the shores of Agno town, according to the Philippine Coast Guard.

Lt. Commander Armand Balilo, Coast Guard spokesman, assured residents of Pangasinan that the spilled cargo will not harm the environment.

Balilo said natural bitumen – also known as asphalt – is used in many industries, including road construction, the paint manufacture, polishing and insulation of tanks and tubes as well as moldings.
“This will not harm the living organisms in the sea, it will just harden and eventually will be cleared out,” Balilo said.

Initial reports cited that the MV Chang Da 12, a 2,996-gross-ton general cargo vessel, was sailing in rough seas when it was swamped by big waves, causing its bow and cargo to separate from its stern.
Coast Guard Station (CGS) Sual immediately coordinated with Noel Malodrigo, representative of Steel Ray Salvaging Services, to start salvaging operations for MV Chang Da 12.

As press time, Steel Ray Salvaging Services was still waiting for the approval of the Bureau of Customs Pangasinan Sub-port for the company to mobilize at the grounding site and begin salvaging the vessel.
As of press time, Balilo said the Coast Guard was yet to confirm the destination and origin of the vessel.

Source -Malaya 

Calculating Asphalt Binder Content

Carbolite’s new ABA 7/35B Asphalt Binder Analyser simplifies and automates calculation of the asphalt binder content of hot mix asphalts (HMAs) used for in road surfacing.

This easy-to-use analyser is optimised for standard compliant tests to BS EN 12697-39-2004, ASTM 6307-10 and AASHTO T308-10 - standard test methods for determining the asphalt content of hot mix asphalt applying the ignition method.  The quality of an asphalt road depends on the correct mixture of aggregate (roadstone) and binder (bitumen) and the standard compliant tests pinpoint the proportion of binder (bitumen) holding together the aggregate (stone fragments) in tarmacadam road surfacing.

The ABA 7/35B’s intuitive touch screen interface is easy to use even when wearing gloves, for fast simple error-free operation.  Test recipes are easily stored, recalled and transferred between furnaces.  And with English, French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese (simplified Mandarin) and Russian languages as standard, the control interface is suitable for widespread use around the world.

The Carbolite system provides automatic collection of weights and correction factors that helps to reduce errors and automatic end-point detection and results calculation increases testing speed and accuracy.  Test specific, end of test detection methods (percentage or absolute), aggregate correction factors and print outputs can all be selected using the analyser in order to comply with the standard test methods.  Permanent result reports can be printed or output to a USB flash drive.

A central controller takes weight measurements from the internal balance and is able to upload weights from compatible external balances. It also manages temperature control in both the main chamber and the afterburner.  

During the test process the door is locked whilst the sample ignites and burns and then releases with a ‘test finished’ alarm when testing is complete. Logging test results is easy and multiple test methods/recipes can be stored.

The physical construction of Carbolite’s furnace, is a proven, robust, hard wearing design and the unit comprises a main chamber with durable heating elements able to run up to 750°C. The inclusion of an integrated high temperature afterburner helps reduce emissions and makes the loss on ignition technique more environmentally friendly.

For more information, visit www.carbolite.com

June 19, 2012

CNOOC to produce more Bitumen

CNOOC, China's third-largest state-run refiner, has started building a 60,000-barrel-per-day crude processing facility in eastern China, to boost its still nascent refining and fuel marketing business in the world's second-largest oil market.

The new facility, to be built in Taizhou city of Jiangsu province, costs 10.2 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) and is slated to begin operations in 2015, company officials and local media said.Company officials said the new investment, including 10 main processing facilities, would be on top of an existing plant at the same site that produces mainly asphalt and fuel oil.

CNOOC, parent of offshore oil and gas specialist CNOOC Ltd , is operating its first major oil refinery in Huizhou of southern Guangdong province, with a capacity of 240,000 bpd.CNOOC plans to add 200,000 bpd of refining capacity in Huizhou by around 2014.

Even with the expanded capacity, CNOOC's Huizhou plant would represent less than 4 percent of China's current total refining capacity of some 11 million bpd.China restricts new investments in refineries smaller than 100,000 bpd which it deems inefficient in a sector dominated by the country's twin oil giants PetroChina and Sinopec Corp.

CNOOC calls the Taizhou investment an "integrated petrochemical project" instead of a "refinery", saying it would become a key lubricants producer, China Energy News reported on Monday.It would also produce feedstock oil for petrochemicals, liquefied petroleum gas and fuel oil, the paper said.One company official said the new plant would process heavy crude oil pumped from China's Bohai Bay, off north China, the main crude producing area for CNOOC Ltd.

In the same city Taizhou, CNOOC operates a separate plant of asphalt, or bitumen, of a similar capacity of 1.5 million tonnes a year, according to a Taizhou local government website.

Reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Jacqueline Wong

June 18, 2012

Skid Proof Roads

Researchers at the Defence Institute of Advanced Technology (DIAT) have developed composites that could be used to develop tyre-friendly and skid-proof roads. The project was initiated by Department of Materials Engineering (DME) to deliver the highest quality of composite road structure from waste rubber that can help in constructing wear, UV, water and abrasion resistant roads.

The group consisting of Sachin Jadhav, Prajith P, Prashant B Rule, Kishor J Khandale, DD Gunjal headed by Dr Balasubramanian K, head, DME, developed and carried out the initial trial in lab campus. Provisional patent has been approved and the final patent for this technology is pending.

"The existing roads use a large quantity of bitumen and gravel. Over a period of time, the binding property of bitumen deteriorates resulting in loosening of gravels and skidding of vehicles. Heavy rain and other extreme weather conditions damage bituminous roads, thus requiring frequent repairs and increases maintenance cost," said Balasubramanian, in an e-mail.

The composite road structure developed by the researchers uses shredded tyres and tubes of military vehicle with some binders along with UV/ water/ freeze/ flame resistant additives. A trial was carried out within the DIAT campus to ensure field validation. The patch was chosen on a junction within the campus to experience maximum usage by all types of vehicles. "The road (patch) was laid layer-by-layer using hand layup process in order to obtain better and uniform distribution of mechanical properties and load in all the directions with excellent binding properties. The structure doesn't soften easily and has good resistance to weak acid mimicked acid rain test. The roads (constructed using these composites) exhibit good crack resistance properties even at low temperature (- 20 0C). They exhibit anti-skidding properties even on sharper turns. The composite road structures will be claiming to have advantages like long lasting, heat and crack resistance, good skid resistance as well as better grip and cornering," he added.

The use of easily available, low cost additives to impart additional properties and minimum utilization of binder formulates this as a very cost effective technology. "One km normal road requires 11-12 tonnes of bitumen each tonne costs about Rs 60,000. For every km at least a tonne of bitumen can be saved in this process. This technology is very useful for a city like Pune," he said.

By  Pranav Kulkarni

June 16, 2012

Plastic Roads

Turning plastic waste into functional roads, the story of two brothers

  By Sapna Gopal  
Sapna Gopal 
It is a sight many of us abhor. However, when it comes to tackling it, we would probably take a backseat. The sight of plastic waste littered around is a common sight in most urban residential areas.

But brothers Rasool and Ahmed Khan may well help change all that. The duo, who once ran a bustling business of plastic, graduated to a more meaningful venture of using discarded plastic for laying roads.

The brothers have laid a total stretch of 1400 km plastic-bitumen road in Bengaluru

The oft used adage, in every adversity lies opportunity, would probably be an apt way to describe their venture.

In 1996, when a ban was imposed on plastic bags in Karnataka, the question that the brothers who made a living by selling them in Bengaluru asked themselves was, ‘what next?’

Looking back, Rasool states, “Since we had 100 employees who were dependent on us, we had to look for an alternative. That’s when the idea of recycling plastic and mixing it with bitumen to lay roads struck us.”
However, for the thought to take shape took a while, from the time in 1997-98 when Rasool began his experimentation filling potholes with plastic tar, aggregates and small stones.

“In Jayanagar area, near the Raja Rajeshwari choultry, we engaged in pothole filling. Soon, we filled 200 to 300 potholes. It was our own initiative and we went ahead and filled them,” he recalls.

How Plastic Roads Are Made
The waste which is collected from various sources like apartments, schools and by civic workers, is put in a shredder. The shredded bits are then stored in bags for about a week to drain out the moisture from them. This is then taken to a hot mixing plant located on the outskirts of Bangalore, where it is mixed with bitumen to make roads. The plastic is mixed with asphalt and forms a compound called polymerized bitumen. When this is used in roads, it not only withstands monsoons, but also the everyday wear and tear. Normally, the life span of a road is about three years. But with K K poly blend (the bitumen-plastic mix), it is increased to about six to seven years. This is because the melting point of bitumen is about 60 to 70 degrees, whereas that of plastic is about 130 to 140 degrees.

Around the same time, Rasool’s son, Amjad Khan, who was studying chemical engineering at the RV Engineering College in Bangalore, got himself involved with the initiative as part of his academic project.
From 1998 to 2000, the company went about developing the technology and testing it on over 600 potholes in Jayanagar. Later they got the technology patented from the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI).
By that time they had spent around Rs.15 lakhs on developing the technology, but it was yet to give them the returns.

The breakthrough came on April 9, 2002, when they met the then chief minister of Karnataka, S M Krishna. “Owing to his encouragement, we were able to lay the first plastic waste road in Bengaluru in 2002, for a stretch of about 300 to 500 metres,” says Rasool.

In December the same year, they laid a 30-km stretch of road for the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP). In 2003-04, they signed an MoU with the BMP to lay roads for 250 km.

The life span of a road is about three years, but the plastic - bitumen road lasts for about 6-7 years

As on date, they have laid a total of 1400 km in Bengalaru in different stretches, 2 km in Delhi and 6 km in Hyderabad.

They have now been approached by the Raichur district (Karnataka) administration to make a presentation on the project. If their proposal is approved they may get an opportunity to lay the roads for the entire district.

While the response from people in Bengaluru has been overwhelming and there have been inquiries the world over, from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Italy, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Burma and Nigeria, Rasool feels that appropriate policies too are needed to promote such initiative
Source- weekender.

June 15, 2012

Modular Evaporator Technology to Extract Bitumen

Aquatech Introduces SMARTMOD(TM) Modular Evaporator Technology for Oil Sands Market

Aquatech, a global leader in water purification technology for the industrial and infrastructure markets, will unveil its SMARTMOD(TM) modular evaporator technology for the Oil Sands market at the 2012 Global Petroleum Show, Booth # 7007, Halls D, E.

Modular, flexible and redeployable, SMARTMOD is the lowest CAPEX and life cycle cost evaporator system available today. It utilizes vertical tube falling film evaporator design, a proven technology for treating difficult produced water sources. Benefits of SMARTMOD over conventional evaporator systems include 10% lower power consumption. Its multiple section design ensures ASME distillate quality, and on-line washing allows for continuous distillate production at >70% of design capacity during washing.

SMARTMOD is also engineered to minimize field installation labor and costs. With its dramatically reduced center of mass and evaporator weight, the SMARTMOD module and vessels eliminate the need for building a large evaporator building or expensive foundation labor and materials. Its innovative design also reduces freight costs for transportation of the complete system to site.

"Aquatech is pleased to introduce this new evaporator design, which adds to our industry-leading portfolio of solutions for oil & gas producers and provides our clients with a unique solution to treat and reuse their produced water. We see a bright future with SMARTMOD(TM) in the Oil Sands market and believe that this technology will further expand our already successful global footprint in produced water treatment," said Alan R. Daza, Vice President of Sales & Business Development for Aquatech.

SAGD (Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage) is an enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technology for producing heavy crude oil and bitumen. It is an advanced form of steam stimulation where high pressure steam is injected into the formation, heating the bitumen in the formation, which lowers its viscosity and allows the mixture of bitumen and water from condensed steam to be pumped out.

The liquid that is pumped to the surface is a mixture of oil and water. The mixture is separated to a predominantly oil and water fractions in the de-oiling process. The water fraction (or Produced Water) is sent to the Aquatech system for treatment and reuse in the facility. In addition to the evaporator technology, Aquatech has supplied conventional systems that include Walnut Shell Filters, Warm Lime Softening, Afterfilters and Ion Exchange softening. Once purified, the produced water is used as feed to the boiler for steam generation and injected into the formation, and the cycle continues.

"Aquatech's evaporator systems like SMARTMOD are an excellent fit for the Oil Sands market. Whether it's for Produced Water or Boiler Blowdown treatment, the SMARTMOD provides high distillate purity, high continuous distillate production availability and significant reduction in field installation costs of approximately 75%," Daza noted.

For more information about SMARTMOD and Aquatech's comprehensive solutions for oil & gas, please visit http://www.aquatech.com


Pot Holes - The Major Issue in Road Maintenance

Transport minister Norman Baker's review of potholes will have far-reaching implications for how contractors and councils tackle them. By Alex Smith.

Potholes are putting a hole in taxpayers pockets.

The cost of damage to roads over the last three winters is estimated at £1.3bn in England and Wales, while the annual value of claims faced by councils relating to potholes amounts to £35m, according to the 2012 Annual local authority road maintenance (ALARM) survey conducted by the Asphalt Industry Alliance.
With the government having to spend £3bn over the next four years on road maintenance it’s not surprising that Transport minister Norman Baker launched a review into potholes as part of the government’s Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HEMP).

The recommendations in the Potholes Review: Prevention and a Better Cure will have far reaching implications for how contractors and councils tackle potholes in the future. There are two key themes: ‘Prevention is better than cure’ and ‘Right first time.’

The review states that intervening at the right time reduces both the amount and size of potholes. The 2012 ALARM survey reported that preventative maintenance is at least 20 times less expensive than reactive maintenance.

David Pearce, committee member at the Highways Term Maintenance Association, says the review focuses on “the benefit of whole-life costing and getting more bang for your buck”. Rather than maintaining roads to ensure potholes don’t occur in the first place Pearce says have waited to they have appeared before carrying out ad hoc repairs.

“Councils have been reactive rather than pro-active.” Pearce says. “Councils often use ‘thin surface dressings’ to fill potholes, but these don’t offer structural strength.

“Local authorities like it because it’s cheap, and it looks as though something has been done but it will only last around 2-3 years. The pothole review focuses on the benefit of whole-life costing and getting more bang for your buck. Local authorities need a planned, pro-active maintenance regime.”

Three key issues

The review highlighted three musts for pothole repair: appropriate specification for the site; knowledge in materials and correct installation. There was concern that councils did not have expertise to specify correct treatments, and the review feared contractors lacked skills to apply Thin Surface Course Systems (TSCS). These offer more structural strength than surface dressings but have different bituminous properties to traditional materials.

In the last 20 years TSCS have gained in popularity over Hot Rolled Asphalt (HRA) and Dense Bitumen Macadam (DBM). The Potholes Review concluded that inappropriate use of proprietary surfacing materials contributed to surface failure. TSCS are designed to be safer, easier and cheaper to lay and they provide good deformation resistance. However, their performance is sensitive to laying conditions and correct site selection, says the review.

The review found many authorities moving away from proprietary materials in favour of traditional treatments. Others were developing their own specifications, such as Staffordshire County Council.
The Review accepts there is a place for TSCS when used appropriately, and it highlights new guidance. The Highways Agency has been working with the Mineral Products Association and Refined Bitumen Association to improve durability. Changes will be introduced into the Manual of Contract Documents for Highway Works this summer.

Many materials and systems are accredited to the Highway Authorities Product Approval Scheme (HAPAS). This assesses manufacturer products, systems and procedures to assure they are fit for purpose.
Other guidance includes the Road Surface Treatment Association’s Code of Practice for those designing and installing road surface treatments and HMEP’s common material specifications.The review also recommends that local authorities collaborate with other councils if they lack appropriate skills.

“What I hope the report will do is refer local authorities back to good practice,” says Pearce. “There are a lot of things you can do that don’t cost a lot of money.”

Workmanship is also highlighted as an issue. The review blames a lack of appropriate training and qualifications and the perception that it’s work that can be undertaken by unskilled labour. It recommends a quality scheme similar to a National Highway Sector Scheme be established for manual surfacing operations.
Councils have good reason to read Baker’s Potholes review. The effect of highway asset depreciation is soon going to be reported as part of local authorities’ annual accounts, revealing past underinvestment. With the change due in 2012-13, there isn’t much time to come up with the right specification to fill the hole in the balance sheet.

Source- Constructionindex.Co.Uk

June 14, 2012

Greener Way to Produce Bitumen

Oilsands operators say they're ready to zap dirty oil accusations with electromagnetic force. No, they're not targeting environmental activists with incapacitating rays, but instead they're well on their way to using radio waves to more efficiently extract black gold from the oilsands.

A consortium of companies have field-tested the process that heats the oilsands electrically with radio waves, reducing the amount of steam and water needed to extract bitumen from sand. European governments are weighing slapping a dirty oil label on the oilsands that producers fear could impact their marketability worldwide.

But the new technology could be a way to not only reduce costs, but also environmental damage and the outcry against Alberta's massive resource, said Glen Schmidt, president of Laricina Energy Ltd. "Canadian oilsands in-situ is already very competitive not only economically, but environmentally," Schmidt said.
"This kind of technology continues to make it more competitive."

In-situ production uses wells instead of mining to extract oilsands bitumen. Laricina has teamed up with Nexen Inc., Suncor Energy, and Harris Corp. to develop the approach, having tested it in Florida in 2011 and in a Suncor oilsands well last January.

Oilpatch critics often point to the immense amount of water used in oilsands production. But Schmidt said using the electromagnetic energy -- combined with an oil solvent injected to move the bitumen -- avoids using fossil fuels to generate steam.

Costs for industry are cut by bypassing the need for water treatment facilities, he said.
"Anytime you can improve operating or capital costs, you reduced the environmental impacts," Schmidt said.
A larger pilot field test is scheduled for 2013 and the companies hope the process can become commercially viable before final testing.

Half of the $33 million cost of the project has been borne by the province, the other half by the consortium.
The three-day Global Petroleum Show in Calgary that's drawn 2,200 exhibitors and about 65,000 visitors abounds with environmental technology. Even so, environmentalists contend the mere burning of fossil fuels, even those extracted more responsibly, are hastening global warming.

And they argue planned dramatic increases in production will accelerate emissions.

Bill Kaufmann, QMI Agency

Cement Roads in Chennai

Will the difference be as stark as black and white? Forty bus routes in the city could go from broken-up, black back-breakers to reinforced, white-topped wonders that will make travelling through the city a breeze.

Chennai Corporation and the Cement Manufacturers' Association on Wednesday successfully conducted a white-topping experiment on one side of a stretch of Velachery Main Road, laying a concrete top on the existing thoroughfare to test its strength.

Corporation officials said a proposal to overlay 40 bus routes with white concrete would soon be placed before the civic body's council for approval. The move comes ahead of the northeast monsoon, which leaves roads in the city potholed and cracked every year.

A senior corporation official said the civic body plans to give a concrete top to 367 km of roads in the city at an estimated Rs 583 crore in 2012-2013. Several companies have expressed interest in the proposed project.

"We have conducted a test of the white-top technology on 700 metres of Velachery Main Road," a corporation official said. "If the corporation council approves the plan, we will use this technology on major bus routes." The white-top consists of a mix of fly ash, polymeric fibre, cement and sand. This composition offers much more durability than bitumen. The corporation will continue to use a plastic-bitumen mix for ongoing road work.

Experts said white-topping roads could increase their lifespan by 25 to 30 years with basic maintenance. They are also likely to be cost effective when compared to bitumen roads, which require frequent maintenance due to wear and tear and waterlogging. "The main advantage of the technology is that it can be used on existing bitumen roads by bonding without having to dig up the top layer," the corporation official said. A road engineer with a private firm said the civic body would need to coordinate with government departments and agencies, TNEB and Metrowater, and have adequate manpower at its disposal to implement the project ahead of the monsoon. "It takes nearly a month to lay 1 km of concrete road while bitumen roads can be completed within a week," he said. "But concrete roads reach 70% of its final strength in just seven days."

"We will come up with a comprehensive plan before white-topping the roads," the corporation official said. "After the roads are laid no digging will be allowed for any reason," The white-top technology is widely used in the United States and in European countries.

Source- Times of India

June 13, 2012

Polyolefins as Bitumen Binder

Arkema will showcase its functional polyolefin range that can serve as modifiers in bitumen binders. CECA will display its comprehensive additives portfolio for the road industry.

The European Asphalt Pavement Association (EAPA) and the European Asphalt Producers Association (Eurobitume) host this event every four years.

Arkema’s line of functional polyolefins such as Lotryl, Evatane, and Lotader will be showcased at Arkema-CECA booth for its visitors. These polyolefins can be used as modifiers in bitumen binders for enhancing its mechanical properties such as resilience elastic recovery, softening temperature, and penetrability. CECA has long-term recognition for its expertise and technical support in road construction technologies and will demonstrate a series of specialty surfactants effective as emulsifiers, process aids and adhesion promoters.

The bitumen-aggregate bond, which is resistant to extreme temperatures, results from this unique series. It is effective for constructing new roads or can be used for renovating existing ones.
The 2012 focuses on sustainable development and warm mix techniques in specific. CECA / Arkema Research & Development Center’s Juan Gonzalez will speak on the topic "Environmental aspects of warm mix asphalts produced with chemical additives" on 14 June. This joint paper is the effort of Pankas, CECA’s Danish partner and will comprise measurements of energy and emission reductions as well as lifecycle assessment.

During 2012 congress, CECA will offer a free estimate relating to the potential reduction in the energy bill for asphalt manufacturers’ mixing plant while using the CECABASE RT warm mix asphalt additive.

By Will Souter

June 12, 2012

Crude Situation

LONDON, June 11 (Reuters) - Spot differentials for Russia's
main export grade, medium sour Urals, fell in the Mediterranean
on Monday as traders said the outlook for supplies remained
 In the Platts window, Litasco sold an 80,000 tonne cargo in
the Mediterranean to Shell for June 21-25 delivery at dated
Brent minus $2.15, some 5 cents below Friday's deal and 20 cents
below earlier indications. 
    Vitol offered a 140,000 tonne cargo for June 21-25 delivery
at dated Brent minus $1.90, but no buying interest surfaced. 
    Traders said a rise in crude oil prices from Iraq's main
Basra terminal in July to all buyers did not reflect sentiment
in the market. 
    Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organisation (SOMO) raised Basra
Light crude for European customers to dated Brent minus $4.40
versus $4.50 below the benchmark last month.  
    "I think they were caught between the Saudis, who increased
prices, and Russian crude, which is falling," said one trader. 
    A second trader also attributed the price increase for Basra
Light to the Saudi move, noting that the lighter Kirkuk grade
OSP had in fact been cut. 
    "We at least buy the heavier grade to stretch bitumen
production and maybe fuel oil production," a second trader said,
listing reasons for demand prospects to be better for the
heavier grade. 
    Iranian and Syrian crude grades were preferred for bitumen
production but are no longer available to most Western companies
because of sanctions. Bitumen demand reaches a peak in the
    In sweet grades, traders said a cargo of Azeri Light oil
exports from the Georgian port of Supsa was still available, and
the market was little changed from last week at around dated
Brent plus $2.75. Traders said the cargo was on offer at dated
Brent plus $3.00.  
    Exports of Kazakhstan's main crude oil grade, CPC Blend, is
expected to be 2.525 million tonnes, or about 635,000 barrels
per day, in July, according to a preliminary loading programme
seen by Reuters.  
    At least three cargoes of the light sweet crude, which is
trading at record lows of around dated Brent minus $3.50 as the
European market is flooded with rival grades, were still on
offer for June. 
    More light sweet crude is due to be offered soon. Traders
said they were waiting for Tunisian state-owned oil company Etap
to issue a July tender for light sweet Zarzaitine. The
announcement was expected last week, but traders said they were
still waiting for the company's July plans. 
 (Reporting by Jessica Donati; additional reporting by Julia
Payne; Editing by Jane Baird)

June 7, 2012

Bitumen By Train to Bhutan

The Southern Railway's Thiruvananthapuram Division has started transporting bitumen by rakes as part of the consignment from BPCL's Kochi Refinery to Bhutan. The service, flagged off from here, is as per an MoU signed between the public sector oil company and the Bhutan Government for supply of bitumen for one year. The cargo is meant for road-laying in Bhutan. 

This is the first consignment of 12,600 barrels of bitumen and the Railway will move three rakes a month. The cargo movement assumes significance for BPCL-KR as it is the first time it is moving the product by rail and exporting it too. Each train will consist of 42 wagons and the Railway will generate a revenue of Rs 91 lakh as freight charges from each service, Mr George John, Area Manager, Southern Railway, Ernakulam, told Business Line.

‘Kairali Black'

The final destination of the train service is Falakatta in West Bengal and, from there, the consignment will be moved by trucks to the unloading point, he said, adding that the service will be in full swing after undertaking the necessary infrastructure developments at the loading point, including building a platform. 

The Railways will also make round-the-clock arrangements at the loading point, he said.
He termed the service the first international contract for the Railways, which expects to generate more revenues in the coming years. 

The Railways christened the service Kairali Black, which extends the concept of Kairali Queen, a dream project of the Thiruvananthapuram Division. Mr Rajesh Agarwal, Divisional Railway Manager, has taken the initiative for this project, meant to showcase Kerala brand products such as spices, cashew and rubber in north Indian markets.

Petro products, coal

According to Mr John, the Thiruvananthapuram Division is coordinating with government agencies such as the Spices Board, the Coir Board and various transport agencies to move products to different markets, either through wagons or containers. Besides, the division is also transporting petroleum products from BPCL-KR to various parts of the State. An average 80-90 rakes per month move products to upcountry destinations also. 

The Railways is also engaged in moving imported fertilisers and cement from Kochi Port to many manufacturing units. Coal movement, which was suspended almost a year and a half back, is expected to re-start shortly, he added. 

Ghana Improves Bitumen Supply

Shell Ghana has revamped operations at its Bitumen depot in Takoradi after investing about a million dollars to address some initial challenges.

The company says aside from the increased quality of its bitumen, it has also increased its storage capacity at its depot.

Speaking to Joy Business, at the opening of the Shell Road Construction Conference, Commercial Manager for Shell Ghana and Togo, Sampson Annor-Quarshie said road construction works in the country should be enhanced by the development.

“In the recent past we had challenges with storage capacity where one of our tanks had to be emptied and repaired but that has been done. We have revamped the bitumen plant at a very high cost and at present we have three bitumen tanks ready to supply the market” he said.

“We know the Highway Authority is introducing a new grade of bitumen and currently we are using two grades of bitumen that was specified by the Ghana Highway Authority. They are bringing in a third grade. We already have a third tank so we can use that to supply the third grade when it becomes available” he concluded.

Source  - Emmanuel Agyei / Nana Agyei Essuman - Joy Business

June 4, 2012

Recycled Tyres for resurfacing

CalREcycle in California, USA supported the efforts of Banning to resurface some of its existing road sections with environmentally friendly rubberized asphalt for increased durability.

A CalRecyle grant helped make the environmentally-friendly project possible, providing up to $250,000 towards the materials.

Nearly 18,000 old tires stayed clear of the landfill thanks to the repurposing of their materials on a Banning road, city officials said.

The city recently completed a rehabilitation project that totaled about three miles of roadway repaved using a special mixture of tire material and asphalt.

The first area was a mile-long stretch of Wilson Street, between Stargate Way and Mountain Ave., which utilized the rubber treads from thousands of recycled tires, according to Banning's senior civil engineer, Art Vela.

Another two-mile stretch was also part of the project, on Sunset Ave., from Wilson St. to the city's northern boundary, the engineer said.

Though the city had to front the money for the project, which cost approximately $1.25 million, they are eligible for up to $250,000 in reimbursements from the state, thanks to a CalRecycle grant they've been awarded to offset some of the cost to install Rubberized Asphalt Concrete (RAC) surface pavement, Vela said.

The recycled materials cost about $20 more per ton than traditional asphalt, he added.

The city is in the process now of calculating the difference in cost between traditional asphalt and the RAC, and will submit that sum for reimbursement to the state soon, Vela said.  Though an exact figure isn't yet available for that price difference, Vela says the $250,000 will cover it.

This is the second time the city has utilized CalRecycle grant money to pay for an operation like this one, as they repaved the stretch of Wilson St. between Stargate Way and 8th St. using the same process in 2010, according to Vela.

Vela says the roads were all scheduled to be repaved anyways, and the grant money just helped make the project more environmentally friendly.

Renee Schiavone: Banning Touts Use of Recycled Tires to Repave Road, Banning-BeaumontPatch.com, May 30, 2012.
Source- bitumenenginggering

June 1, 2012

CRMB in UK Roads

The first major UK trial of a new asphalt made partly from recycled waste tyres has been successfully completed on behalf of Transport Scotland by Breedon Aggregates.

Late last month a short stretch of the A90 dual carriageway between Perth and Dundee was resurfaced with the revolutionary material and a recently-completed ‘grip test’ on the new surface has now confirmed its viability.

This stretch of road is one of the busiest in Scotland, carrying around 35,000 vehicles a day. Over the next few months the material will be closely monitored against a number of key performance criteria, including skid resistance, and the early indications are very encouraging.

Unlike previous attempts at using rubber in asphalt, which usually involved trying to melt the rubber completely before mixing it with stone and bitumen, Breedon Aggregates has secured access to new technology from Danish company Genan which enables it to incorporate rubber particles directly into the binding agent. This is achieved at lower temperatures, with lower levels of emissions, bringing significant environmental benefits.

“This could transform our approach to road surfacing in the UK,” said Alan Mackenzie, chief executive of Breedon Aggregates Scotland. “Our industry has been trying for years to successfully incorporate recycled rubber into asphalt, without much success. Thanks to this new technology, which we are partnering with Genan to promote in the UK, we can help change that.”

Since 2006, EU rules have banned the disposal of tyres to landfill, leaving large quantities of shredded rubber to find alternative uses in various forms of recycling. According to the European Tyre and Rubber Manufacturers Association, nearly 480,000 tonnes of used tyres arose in the UK in 2009.

LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) studies show that for every ton of scrap tyres used for rubber modification of bitumen and asphalt, 1.1 tons of CO2 emissions are saved compared with incineration of the tyres (for example, in cement kilns).

“We’re bringing to market an asphalt which is more economical and environmentally friendly than any comparable product currently available,” added Mr Mackenzie.

“We’ll be drawing on a readily-available recycled raw material, reducing the proportion of expensive stone and bitumen in the mix and cutting the amount of gases and fumes produced, so it’s an all-round win for us and for our customers.”

Transport Scotland (TS) commented: “We are pleased that industry has identified this opportunity and developed an alternative surfacing material for use on the trunk road network. This adopts a sustainable approach in making the best use of resources available, by re-using an abundant waste material and thereby reducing the use of oil-based bitumen products. TS will continue to work collaboratively with the industry under the auspices of the TS Pavement Forum and we look forward to the continued success of this initial trial.”

Following the success of the trial in Scotland, Breedon Aggregates will now begin to market the new material, to be called Breedon Polymer R+, from its 18 asphalt plants throughout Scotland and England.

Source- Clickgreen