July 31, 2012

Warm Mix Asphalt - Environmentally Friendly..

There are many strands to the latest developments in mixing technology for both concrete and asphalt, but they are united by the need to meet demand for more economical machines that are safe and intuitive to operate.

The big news in terms of asphalt mixing technologies has been the development warm mix asphalt (WMA) processes which allow producers of asphalt pavement material to lower the temperatures at which the material is mixed and laid.

Instead of production temperatures of 140°C to 180°C for traditional hot mix asphalt (HMA), today's warm mixes are created at 90°C and 150°C.

Such reductions have the obvious benefits of cutting fuel consumption and decreasing emissions. In addition, engineering benefits include better compaction on the road, the ability to haul material for longer distances, and extending the paving season by being able to pave at lower temperatures.

Marini - a subsidiary of Fayat - said two main techniques for producing WMA have emerged. One involves the addition of either solid or liquid bituminous binders, and the other involves the use of additive-free foamed bitumen.

The manufacturer is championing the foam route, and has developed the new Aquablack foam generator which it claims is a low cost, emissions-free device that can be easily installed on a metering line of a new plant or a plant to be upgraded.

The Aquablack consists of three main elements - an independent memory card, which manages production data, a foam gun or online foam generator and a mass flowmeter equipped with an online heater.
The additive-free foam (consisting of hot bitumen and 3% water on average) is created in the foam gun just before the point at which bitumen is injected into the mixer. Using Aquablack allows warm mix asphalt to be produced at 150°C, if not lower, according to the company.

Other developments for both asphalt and concrete mixing technology have centred on transportability and improvements to plant controls and data logging technology as well as environmental concerns such as emissions and noise.

Cemen Tech has developed user-friendly controls for its concrete dispensers, and has introduced a new style of control panel for its Mobile Concrete Dispenser line.

The new panel is lighted for night time operations and incorporates controls for the hydraulically powered water pump and the water flow control valve directly at the operator's panel to make adjustments easy and convenient.

In addition, water flow meters and admixture flow meters are all centrally located in the panel for easy operation. The panel also has a multi section hydraulic control valve which reduces hydraulic hosing and allows for easier maintenance, according to the company.

Customised control

On the asphalt side, meanwhile, Astec has also developed a new control system for its plants. The PMIII system consists of individual modules for burners, silos, motor controls, blending and loadout. The modules can be installed together as a package or individually, allowing operators to customise the controls at an asphalt facility.

Astec designed the PMIII interface with minimal graphics on each screen so as not to appear overcrowded, and the system has built-in diagnostics which are said to minimise plant downtime by helping operators identify the source of any problems.

Data logging is another area of focus for Astec, which has also launched the Data Acquisition System Hub (DASH), which is compatible with the company's TCII, PMII and PMIII control systems.
This new system provides a real-time snapshot of operations by gathering information from all plants, displaying it in interactive charts and making it accessible via web browser, or flash compatible devices such as Android tablets and smartphones.

Production data collected from each plant includes mix totals, raw material usage, current production rates as well as moistures and mix temperature. Fuel consumption can also be monitored for plants that have fuel meters connected to the plant control system.

DASH also collects sales data, which can be aggregated across plants to show totals shipped to a job or sold to the same customer from multiple plants. The idea is to speed up the resolution of any production problems, and allow management decisions to be taken more quickly.

It has been a busy year for Astec, whose other launches include a new V-Flight drum design as well as a new portable asphalt plant. The company described its new drum design as a "breakthrough", and said it would now be a standard component on all new drums and made available as retrofits.

The V-Flights are said to provide greater aggregate uniformity during the drying process, resulting in better heat transfer, a reduction of fuel use and increased productivity. Astec claimed that a reasonable expectation for fuel savings on a high recycled asphalt pavement (RAP) mix or open-graded mix would be about 10%.
Using the V-flights in conjunction with an optional variable frequency drive (VFD) also adds flexibility by extending the range of mixes that can be produced without requiring that the flights be adjusted. With the VFD, a plant operator will also have the ability to control exhaust temperatures regardless of the mix design.
For the highest level of regulation, Astec is introducing a stack temperature control system package that incorporates the V-flights along with the VFD controls. This system automatically modulates the drum speed to maintain a set temperature, and Astec claimed it would allow customers to use more RAP in mixes as a result.

Meanwhile Dillman, a division of Astec, has introduced the portable 200 TPH Dillman Voyager asphalt plant. The new plant is built around the Dillman unified drum and includes a 50 tonne self-erecting surge bin to ensure a quick set-up without the need for cranes.

Designed for producers which require a plant made to move several times during the paving season, the Voyager offers a straight-forward design with components that can be dismantled, moved to a new site and set up and ready for production in about five days.


This type of highly mobile and flexible design is also reflected by other manufactures. Lintec, for instance, has introduced a  fully containerised Gussasphalt plant - all the components of which (including the mixer, burner, electrical cabinets etc) are pre-installed into easily transportable containers, which have certified shipping dimensions.

Gussasphalt is a very dense type of mastic asphalt bound by a polymer modified binder. Lintec's latest plant, which has a capacity of 20 tonnes per hour, was sold to French contractor Colas' subsidiary SMAC in April this year.

Lintec claims that its containerised plant design leads to lower transport costs and handling times, with the plants up and operating after a week. No concrete foundations are required as the large bottom area of the containers give enough stability on a normal compacted site service, and the fact that all the components are housed also lowers noise, dust and heat emissions.

Noise reduction has also been a central concern for Ammann, which has developed a new silencer - the Ammapax - to help contractors tackle this. The device, which does not require any extra room as it is fixed to the chimney opening, is available in different configurations that can reduce noise levels by 10 dB, 15 dB or 20 dB, depending on requirements. It is also compatible with plants made by other manufacturers.
Meanwhile, Ammann has also developed a new module to add to its AS1 technology platform in asphalt plants - the EcoView system. This technology is designed to show at a glance how efficiently a mixing plant is working by continuously recording operating and energy-related data such as fuel, electricity consumption and CO2 emissions and presenting this in graphical form to the mixing engineer.

Comparisons with "previous performance" indicate trends and any necessary need for action. The idea is to make energy costs per tonne of asphalt as transparent as possible, and provide indicators for possible causes of an increase in energy consumption.

Ammann has also launched a new range of asphalt mixing plant - the Unibatch models, which it describes as "all rounders". UniBatch plants have a capacities range from 80 to 350 tonnes per hour and feature "future proof" designs, capable of being modified to adapt to a wide range of sites. The plants have a modular construction, with individual components transported in standard containers, and the range is compatible with all of Ammann's recycling technologies.

Similarly, Asphalt Drum Mixers' (ADM) new EX Series of asphalt plants were also developed to cope with recycled material and can process high percentages of RAP. Capable of producing between 100 and 425 tonnes of asphalt per hour, the EX Series use separate drying and mixing zones to achieve the maximum level of heat transfer and fuel efficiency.

EX Series plants are available in portable or stationary versions and can be operated by just one plant operator and one loader operator. ADM also designed the plants to reintroduce emissions back to the drum's combustion zone, making the plant more environmentally friendly.

Marini has also broadened its range of asphalt plants with the introduction of the new Top Tower 3000, which can produce 240 tonnes per hour and is capable of a recycling rate of up to 35%.

The company said the main innovation on the new plant concerned the upper part of the mixing tower and the screen in particular. The idea was to upgrade the screen and maximise the screening area (38 m² of total screening capacity and 6.6 m² for the sand screen), while keeping the dimensions down to a minimum. In addition, the screen has been optimised with new access hatches for quick and easy access to the different meshes, simplifying maintenance operations.

Furthermore, the aggregate and filler weighing hoppers on the Top Tower 3000 have been redesigned and enlarged, mainly in response to the requirements of customers producing special asphalt mixes containing high levels of filler, according to Marini.

Marini said its Top Tower models now offer a complete range covering all outputs from 200 to 300 tonnes per hour.  It said each model is also capable of integrating the most recent technological developments in terms of recycling solutions, including a recycling ring, direct introduction into the mixer, combined ring and mixer solution and parallel drums, as well as accommodating warm-mix asphalt production, including the addition of foam bitumen, solid and liquid additives and the injection of wet sand.


Manufacturers expect to see demand for such environmentally friendly plants increase in the future, but not across all markets. As Ammann points out, plants with recycling capabilities and reduced emissions are in demand in markets where resources are tight and environmental requirements are particularly strict.
However, demand can differ significantly from region to region, and Ammann said one of its key strategies would be to improve its capacity to adapt its products to suit local customer requirements.
This tailor-made approach could become a decisive competitive factor in the mixing sector, while the trends of increased automation and transportability also look likely to continue to shape developments.

Source-  International Construction

July 30, 2012

Bitumen Capital Announces Termination of Letter of Intent

Bitumen Capital Inc. (TSXV: BTM.H) ("Bitumen") a capital pool company listed on the TSX Venture Exchange's NEX board (the "Exchange") announces that the letter of intent dated March 16, 2012 with the CVD Group, previously announced on April 2, 2012, has terminated in accordance with its terms.

Bitumen's board of directors have determined that they could not proceed with the transaction as structured and that it is in its best interests to resume the process of identifying and evaluating businesses and assets with a view to completing its potential qualifying transaction. 

Bitumen's common shares are expected to resume trading on the Exchange on or about August 31st, 2012.
Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release. 


July 28, 2012

Rubber is better for Roads

Not surprisingly, rubberised asphalt is catching on. Enough tyres are recycled in America each year to produce 20,000 lane-miles (32,000 lane-kilometres) of the stuff, enough to re-pave about 0.5% of America's roads, according to Liberty Tyre Recycling, a Pittsburgh firm that handles around a third of America's recycled tyres. Rubber roads are also popular in China, Brazil, Spain and Germany. Their popularity could spread further, since it is now possible to make rubberised asphalt less expensively than the traditional sort.

That is because rubber can partially replace bitumen, the binding agent used to hold the crushed stones together in ordinary asphalt. Bitumen is derived from oil, which means its price has risen over the past decade alongside that of crude oil. Discarded tyres, by contrast, are cheap and are likely to get cheaper. In rich countries, around one tyre is thrown away per person per year. They are piling up especially quickly in Europe, where dumping them into landfills was banned in 2006.

Rubberised asphalt keeps the noise down in a couple of ways. Pores between the stones in standard asphalt must be small, because if the gaps are too big the bitumen binding cannot do its job properly. Adding rubber thickens the bitumen. That allows bigger pores, which help to trap and disperse sound waves. The rubberised bitumen itself is flexible and slightly springy, which enables it to absorb more unwanted sonic energy.

Shredded tyres are not the last word in exotic road toppings. A substance called PERS, or poro-elastic road surfacing, is being developed with a mix of private and public money in the European Union. It is made from a blend of crushed rock, rubber and polyurethane, a synthetic plastic that replaces bitumen as the binding agent and allows even bigger pores in the road surface. PERS is not cheap, costing around five times as much as rubberised asphalt. But you get what you pay for: tests suggest it can cut road noise in half. In some particularly noisy areas, reckons Luc Goubert, who is co-ordinating the PERS project at the Belgian Road Research Centre in Brussels, the resulting boost to property values—and, therefore, land taxes—could help cover the cost.

Source-  The Economist

Will Bitumen Sink or Float - Spill Case Study

Kinder Morgan officials are denying that heavy oil sands bitumen – already carried by tanker through Vancouver harbour – would sink if it ever spilled in the ocean.

Grilled by Metro Vancouver politicians Thursday, company reps called it misinformation in the media that diluted bitumen sinks in water, making a marine spill cleanup virtually impossible.

"The diluted bitumen and other products don't sink," said Mike Davis, Kinder Morgan Canada's director of marine development and engineering. "They're less dense that sea water. They float."

He added any heavy crude oil could eventually sink if it "weathers" on the surface for too long, but added there's no indication that would happen if a bitumen spill was boomed and cleaned within a reasonable period of time.

Mayors at the Metro port cities committee said later they were surprised to hear the claim – and skeptical.
So was B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake when asked for comment."The prevailing view is that bitumen will sink rather than float," Lake said, but added more information might be needed.

The province's newly released technical report on heavy oil pipelines specifically lists bitumen's different properties  – and its potential to sink and complicate cleanup – as a source of higher risk.
Davis said the first trial shipments of bitumen from Alberta's oil sands via the Trans Mountain pipeline through the Lower Mainland began in the 1980s.

He estimated between 20 and 30 per cent of the 300,000 barrels per day now flowing down the pipeline is either diluted bitumen or similar types of heavy crude oil.

If federal regulators approve the company's plan to twin the 60-year-old pipeline and increase the capacity to 750,000 barrels, an estimated 300 tankers a year would go through Vancouver, up from about 70 now.
Kinder Morgan reps outlined tanker safety measures that include double hulls, segmented holds, two local pilots in command, the use of tethered tugs and a system to vet and inspect tankers for safety.

On land, Davis said staff fly the length of the pipeline in the Lower Mainland once a week and drive its length every two days in search of problems – in addition to the use of a leak detection system monitored out of Edmonton.

He also said the company wants feedback from Metro cities on what sort of legacy benefits they envision, a statement mayors saw as a prelude to cash offers to encourage their support.North Vancouver City Mayor Darrell Mussatto challenged Kinder Morgan to agree to an independent audit of spill response times on both land and water – something Davis wouldn't immediately commit to but said may be considered through the coming National Energy Board hearings.

Several mayors said they have little comfort in the emergency response capability after the incident in Burnaby in 2007, when oil gushed out of the pipeline after an excavator struck it.Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan noted the spill response agency – Western Canada Marine Response Corp.  – has just 22 full-time staff and eight part-time workers and would rely heavily on other vessels and fishermen in event of a spill.

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said she's worried there could be finger pointing between Kinder Morgan and shippers as to who is responsible for a spill at or near the Burnaby terminal.Davis said booms are set up around tankers when they load, meaning any spill at the terminal would be contained. He called the 2007 spill's circumstances unique.

"They have to have a much, much more robust plan to deal with the potential eventualities," Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said later."I continue to be very concerned about emergency response plans and protocols within Burrard Inlet," said Belcarra Mayor Ralph Drew.

"I am still to be convinced that what is there is adequate for what's being transported today let alone future scaled-up shipments."Metro has not yet taken any position on the twinning project, although Vancouver, Burnaby and some other city councils have already opposed it.

  By Jeff Nagel - Surrey North Delta Leader

July 27, 2012

Polymer Modified Bitumen for Race Track

If you watch auto racing, you're aware that there have been several instances in recent years where events were interrupted when the race track itself began to come apart, creating an often dangerous situation.  There are several causes for this but one of the most likely causes is from the tire compounds produced by manufacturers that become stickier as they heat up in order to provide better grip for the race cars.  While there is better grip for the cars, the adhesion of the tires begins to lift the pavement.

At Russia's first major raceway just outside Moscow, Kraton Performance Polymers, Inc., Houston, and Russian oil company TNK Alfabit collaborated to develop a polymer-modified bitumen asphalt that is expected to withstand all types of high-speed racing.

"Kraton scientists in Amsterdam and the TNK Bitumen team worked closely together to develop the ideal TNK Alfabit binder formulation using Kraton D1192, which is one of the most technologically advanced and user-friendly polymer options for use in the manufacture of modified binder, "said Marek Kowalczyk, sales manager Eastern Europe for Kraton.  "Kraton D1192 offers enhanced polymer compatibility, and lower modified asphalt viscosity.  Its durability and resistance to aging result in high pavement quality that we believe will stand up to Moscow's regional climate of harsh winters and hot summers."

Source - Automotive Newswire

July 26, 2012

Bitumen - Dirty Secrets

There are some things that never come up when discussing the Athabasca Tar Sands or shipping bitumen to China.

The difference between bitumen and conventional oil never comes up.  Bitumen isn't oil.   In it's processed, or upgraded, form its a sludge that has to be diluted and heated in order to pump it through pipelines.

Bitumen is diluted with a chemical soup brought to our shores in tankers and pumped via pipelines to Alberta.   Once they're combined you have a product called "dil-bit" or diluted bitumen that can then be heated and pumped at high pressure through pipelines.

Dil-bit is nasty stuff.   It contains high levels of pipeline eating acids and abrasives.  It literally scours the pipeline walls as it passes through them.  It also contains high levels of heavy metals, carcinogens and other toxins.  It's wicked stuff.

Dil-bit is necessary for just one purpose - to enable bitumen to be transported to distant refineries where it can be turned into synthetic crude oil and other petroleum products.

By now you may be asking the routinely unasked and never answered question, why dil-bit?   Why bother transporting this dangerous product to refineries thousands of miles away, placing everything between the Tar Sands and the distant refineries at unnecessary risk?   Why not simply complete the refining of bitumen in Alberta and then ship much more benign, far less hazardous synthetic crude to overseas markets?   Interesting question and the key to this whole sordid business.

Foreign customers want the raw stuff delivered to them because they have excess refining capacity.   It's actually cheaper to ship dilutent in tankers to Alberta and the mixed dil-bit back to these remote refineries than to pay to have the stuff refined, on site, in Alberta.  And because, dangerous as that might be, it greatly improves the bottom line royalties that Alberta and Ottawa get for nothing.  In other words, it's better to leave British Columbia  at enormous risk of environmental catastrophe than to do the right thing and refine the gunk in Alberta.

You see, bitumen as a petroleum source is a dodgy proposition.  It's expensive stuff to extract and process and ship.   That really narrows the profit margins.   Andrew Coyne inadvertently made the point in his latest piece where he discussed the suggestion that we "should build a pipeline to carry oil from Alberta to the eastern provinces and beyond," which he noted the powers that be admit, "the economic case isn't there."

In other words it's not economical to ship Alberta sludge east.   That's a losing proposition.   But it is economical, profitable, to send it to tankers at docks on the B.C. coast.   Yet that too is only profitable if you don't have to carry the cost of British Columbia's environmental risks on your books.

But there's another reason why Ottawa and Alberta don't want to refine their crude in Alberta. The refining process would require a great deal of energy and generate significant amounts of carbon emissions neither Ottawa nor Alberta want to carry on Alberta's already overburdened books.   So, out of sight/out of mind, just so long as British Columbia carries the risks.

Bitumen or refined, synthetic crude.   That ought to be what this battle is about.   At least synthetic crude can have the abrasives, acids, carcinogens and heavy metals refined out of it.   And synthetic crude oil, unlike bitumen, floats and so gives us a chance of containing coastal spills.   And with only refined, synthetic crude being shipped we would need just half the tanker trips, cutting the already high risks by almost half.   But Ottawa and Alberta don't want to do that.   They don't want to do the right thing.   So long as British Columbia carries the risks, why should they trouble themselves with carbon emissions, energy demands and putting their bitumen into a relatively safe form?

Source  - The Disaffected Lab

July 25, 2012

Diluted Bitumen is the same as Heavy Crude ?

Diluted bitumen (dilbit) from Alberta’s oil sands is so similar to heavy crude oils, which US pipelines have handled for years, that it is unlikely to pose corrosion problems, experts told a National Academies of Science panel on July 23. “Once processed, dilbit is simply oil,” said Peter T. Lidiak, pipelines director at the American Petroleum Institute. “It’s made of the same components in any mixture of crudes.”

Crude from Canada’s oil sands has been delivered to US refiners by pipeline since 1968, he told the committee studying pipeline transportation of dilbit at the request of the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Tariff specifications from the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission limit impurities in pipeline crude, including total water and solids, which must be less than 0.5%, Lidiak said.
“Pipelines are high-value assets intended for operation over many years,” he added. “Operators have no incentive to accept shipments which could damage their systems.”

John Zhou, of Alberta Innovates Energy and Environment Solutions, part of the provincial government’s technology arm, said the group’s comparison of sour crudes and dilbits found no significant differences, although solids in both instances need to be better characterized.

“For me, dilbit is just another crude,” said Oliver Moghissi, president of NACE International in Houston and director of the materials and corrosion technology center at DNV Columbus (Ohio) Inc. “We just put back into it some of what comes from other crudes.”

Sources of problems

Problems mainly arise when water that has not been removed from a crude before it goes into a pipeline begins to separate and collects at points along the bottom of the pipe’s interior, he explained. Dissolved gases—primarily carbon dioxide—and oil extracts such as organic acids also can influence corrosion rates, Moghissi said. Running a pig through the pipeline probably is the most effective corrosion inhibiter, although chemicals also can help, he told the panel.

“For new pipelines, design, manufacturing, and construction will be more important than preventing internal corrosion in preventing releases,” Moghissi said. “It’s also important to sample under live conditions. You can’t do it in a tea cup or mayonnaise jar because the atmosphere will have changed.”

But Jeffery Gilliam, PHMSA’s engineering and research director, said the US Department of Transportation agency concentrated on internal corrosion because it’s the single most likely risk factor since it involves the interaction of a transmitted product on the pipeline’s interior.

Although concern has been expressed about possible problems from pipelines shipping crudes that may be more corrosive because they contain abrasives, lines transmitting dilbits have had only nine corrosion incidents in the last 10 years, he told the NAS committee. Naphtha normally is used as a diluting agent, although gas condensates and similar light products also work, Gilliam said.

“As a starting point, the committee might want to reference similar types of crudes,” suggested Linda Daugherty, PHMSA’s deputy associate administrator for policy and programs. “Age also is a definite factor. Many pipelines were installed 40 years ago and have sharp turns where water which has separated from dilbit would tend to collect and start corrosion.”

Operators’ strategies

Officials from two pipeline companies that ship Canadian crude to US refineries also said preventing water accumulation is the major weapon against interior corrosion. Both Canada’s National Energy and FERC in the US limit allowable sediment and water to 0.5%, according to Scott Ironside, Enbridge Inc.’s integrity programs director. The pipeline firm regularly runs pigs where its lines are susceptible to water or solids accumulation, he said. “Enbridge has never had a release caused by internal corrosion on its piggable
pipelines,” he reported.

“US refineries can handle heavy, sour crude we’re shipping from Canada because they’ve been handling it from Venezuela and California for years,” maintained Jenny Breen, who helped Alberta Innovates conduct its study before joining TransCanada Corp. as a pipe integrity corrosion specialist 6 weeks ago. Fully turbulent dilbit flow will prevent suspension of sediment and water, she said.

Bruce Dupuis, TransCanada’s liquid pipeline integrity manager, said the carrier ships multiple crude grades in 100,000 bbl minimum batches on its existing Keystone pipeline from Hardesty, Alta., to US refineries. “We sample every batch that comes into our system, and begin prerequisite testing when one doesn’t meet our specifications,” he said. “We’re also seeing the velocity products travel basically clean the line.”

But Anthony Swift, an attorney in the Natural Resources Defense Council’s international program, urged the committee to question assurances that dilbit is so similar to sour crudes that it won’t cause additional problems for pipelines. He also criticized PHMSA’s decision to emphasize corrosion, noting that poor planning and response were bigger culprits when crude oil leaked from a rupture in an Enbridge crude pipeline near Kalamazoo, Mich., in 2010.

Swift also questioned comparisons of dilbit to imported sour crudes that are partially refined at their ports of entry before entering pipelines; to California heavy crude because it travels a much shorter distance to specially configured refineries than dilbit moving through TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline would; and to Canadian synthetic crudes produced since the 1960s that were upgraded near mine mouths.
“It would be better to compare dilbit to lighter crudes which historically have been shipped on US pipelines,” he said. “The argument that this is similar to conventional crudes doesn’t bear out. There are major hydrocarbon differences.”

By Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor
Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

July 10, 2012

High Temperature hits Tarmac's Asphalt

Extreme heat over the weekend is also to blame for a US Airways flight getting stuck in the tarmac at Reagan National Airport.

A picture posted on Reddit.com shows of the tires stuck in the softened asphalt.

We're told the 35 passengers and three crew members on board had to get off the plane so a tow vehicle could budge the jet out of the rut.

The incident happened on Friday when temperatures were in the upper 90s.

The Charleston, South Carolina flight eventually took off after a three hour delay.

Source-  Myfoxdc.com

July 5, 2012

Thailand Refinery on Fire

Bangchak Petroleum has shut down its oil refinery in Bangkok's Sukhumvit Soi 64 for a week and an 80,000 barrel-per-day crude distillation unit for at least 30 days following a fire and explosion at the plant on Wednesday morning.

It was the second fire at the soi 64 refinery in 18 months.The explosion about 7.30am in an industrial zone in inner Bangkok surrounded by residential areas  set off towering flames and sent two columns of thick  black smoke into the sky that could be seen across the capital.

It is the second, recent such accident at refinery. A fire in January last year was believed to have been caused by an oxygen pipe leak.Bangchak spokeswoman Chaveewan Kiatchokchaikul said late on Wednesday morning that no injuries were reported in the blaze, which had been brought under control.

"We are investigating the cause of fire and will inform the public immediately," said Mrs Chaveewan.
Bangchak Petroleum Plc president Anusorn Sangnimnuan said total damage was estimated at up to 100 million baht.

It ws covered by insurance and would not hurt revenue, Mr Anusorn said.He said other units at the 120,000 barrel-a-day facilty were not damaged and will be restarted in a week's time.The site also has a 40,000 barrel-a-day crude unit and a hydrocracking plant with a capacity of 25,000 barrels a day, he said.
Mr Anusorn said the company "still has confidence in the safety system and will continue using the Bangkok refinery".

Fuel sales in Bangkok will not be disrupted because the company has a stock of three billion litres that would last for two months, he added.The plant was handling 110,000 barrels a day before the fire, according to Krit Vinijsorn, a company investor relations official. The refinery was closed from May 25 to June 23 for annual maintenance, he said.

Industry Minister Pongsvas Svasti said there might have been a leak in a gas pipeline and this could have been the source of the explosion and fire.MR Pongsvas said the situation had been brought quickly under control. People in nearby communities did not panic and they had not been evacuated, he said.
However, nearby schools were closed today.

The 80,000 barrel-per-day crude distillation unit will be closed for at least 30 days for inspection, the minister said."What we need to do now is to assess the environmental impact, such as the amount of sulphur dioxide emitted and its effect on people's respiratory systems. The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry will look into these issues," MR Pongsvas said.

He said the Department of Industrial Works was responsible for inspecting the safety measures in place to prevent a similar incident from happening again.He was relieved that emergency units were able to promptly bring  the situation under control and that the warning system was fully functional.Asked about the fire's affect on investor confidence, he admitted that the country has not been very serious about safety standards.
"Motorcycle riders don't even wear helmets here and there's a long way to go to educate people [about safety standards]," the minister said.

He said he would discuss plans for relocating the Bangchak oil refinery or nearby communities with Energy Minister Arak Chonlatanon.Nearby communities should be moved 100 to 200 metres away from the fence surrounding the refinery, but there were also three or four other factories near the site, he said.
The Bangchak oil refinery, which employs around 600 people, is located in a large industrial estate in a sprawling suburb and is among the country's largest refineries.

Source- Bangkok Post

Bitumen Spill - Tanker Overturns

A private tanker carrying nearly 20 tonnes of hot liquid asphalt overturned and caught fire at Jogeshwari flyover on Western Express Highway early on Wednesday, spilling the sticky substance on the road and causing a traffic nightmare.

The mishap occurred around 2.30 am at the start of the flyover towards Borivali after the driver lost control and brushed against the parapet. Two of the north-bound lanes were closed within half an hour of the incident.

Motorists, especially those returning home from south Mumbai, had a torrid time as it took teams of the traffic police and civic workers nearly 18 hours to clear the road. Intermittent heavy showers added to the chaos and made it difficult for the teams to get cranes and other equipment at the scene.

Traffic snarls, which were reported all along the north-bound highway, eased only after 7.30 pm when the stretch was fully reopened.

According to police officials, the tanker belongs to Sri Ekvira Transport Company. It was filled with 19.5 tonnes of asphalt,
bubbling at 170 degrees Celsius, at Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) in Chembur late on Tuesday night. The batch was headed for a chemical plant in Wada, 98 km from Mumbai.

Instead of taking the Eastern Highway, the driver got onto the Western Highway in an apparent bid to avoid paying a toll. At about 2.30 am, it reached Jai Coach flyover, Jogeshwari. Right at the mouth of the flyover, he lost control and hit the parapet before overturning.

Some of the hot asphalt spilled onto the road, and the tanker caught fire. Immediately after the mishap, the driver fled from the spot, and was untraceable till the time of going to print.

Within 20 to 30 minutes, the traffic police and fire brigade reached the spot and cordoned off the area. The fire was put off quickly, but the asphalt posed a big problem.

The first responders could not go very near the tanker as the bitumen was very hot. They waited till 6 am for the substance to cool and bring a crane to the spot.

"Even several hours after the incident, it was not possible to remove the asphalt that had spread on the road," said Senior Traffic Inspector (Goregaon) Vinayak Mulay.

Finally at 12.30 pm, another crane was called and the overturned tanker was set upright. However, most of the sticky bitumen in the tanker spilled out, creating a three to four-inch thick layer on the road.

Later, workers dumped construction debris on the asphalt in a bid to bring down its temperature. Heavy rains that had earlier hampered the operations for once proved useful.

Around 3.30 pm, the flow of vehicles from south Mumbai started to swell. "It was very difficult to manage the traffic," said Mulay. Another officer said that knock-on effects of traffic jams on the north-bound highway were felt up to Mahim causeway. "Even vehicles on SV Road moved at a crawl," he said.

Mahim resident Ketan Gada had planned to drive to Malad for some work on Wednesday afternoon. He left his home at 4 pm, and it took him three and a half hours to reach Jogeshwari. "Only one lane leading to Borivali was kept open, causing cars to move at crawl. After reaching Jogeshwari, I decided to turn back," said Gada.

Many motorists criticised the city administration and traffic officials for not alerting citizens about the problem.

At 6 pm, a trailer was brought to the spot, and two cranes mounted the tanker on its back. By this time, the asphalt layer had also cooled, and workers managed to either push it aside or scrape it. An hour and a half later, the entire flyover was opened to traffic.

When Mirror contacted the transport company's owner, Jitendra Patil, he said he learnt about the mishap only at 10 am. "We tried to call the driver, but his phone was switched off. We rushed to the spot immediately after being informed about the incident," he said. The asphalt batch was worth Rs 11 lakh.

By  Virat A Singh

July 4, 2012

West Africa to Increase Bitumen Production

The Director General of Smb, Mamadou Doumbia has announced plans by the bitumen making company to invest $54 million in increasing the company’s refinery capacity. “This becomes imperative to better position the company for the construction and infrastructure boom in west and central Africa,” he said on Monday.
Societe multinationale de bitumes (Smb), which is Ivory Coast’s sole producer of bitumen, plans to increase the capacity of its refinery to 400,000 tonnes by 2015 from its current capacity of 250,000.
Doumbia said, “Given the economic outlook for Ivory Coast and countries of the sub- region, we plan to invest $54 million to increase annual capacity of our refinery.”
According to the International Monetary Fund, West Africa is expected to record an average annual growth of about 5 percent in 2012, a development that has increased orders for Smb bitumen for road construction projects in Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Angola and Ghana.
“In the past three years, we have averaged 40,000 tonnes per year in Ghana, this year, we are expecting to hit 70,000 tonnes by year-end,” Doumbia said. He also added that by the end of 2012, Smb would have shipped to ship about 60,000 tonnes to Angola.

 “Given the outlook, we think we will end 2012 with sales of about 250,000 tonnes. In the first half of the year, we recorded sales of about 140,000 tonnes, compared with 64,000 tonnes in the same period last year,” he concluded.

Source Ventures Africa