June 28, 2013

Another Bitumen Spill

H E Mohammed bin Salim bin Said al Toobi, Minister of Environment and Climate Affairs, on Wednesday visited sites affected by bitumen from a sinking Cypriot vessel. The vessel, which was carrying over 816 tonnes of bitumen, sank on June 19 around 1.4 nautical miles off Port Sultan Qaboos (PSQ).

H E Toobi reviewed efforts made by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs (MECA) through its Pollution Operation Centre to clear the bitumen as well as to activate a national plan to combat oil pollution in Oman.

The vessel is now resting 65m under water. Coasts in the wilayats of Muttrah and Muscat have been affected by the spillage.

Eng Sulaiman al Akhzami, MECA’s director of planning and studies, acting director of the Pollution Operation Centre, and head of the committee managing the clean-up, said that the number of ‘tar spots’ have decreased due to intensive cleaning operations by the committee. “While some sites are now free of tar spots, other sites are yet to be cleared. Work is underway to clear them all,” he said.

Source- Muscat Daily

June 26, 2013

Kazak Bans it's own refinery's Bitumen

Kazakhstan bans use of Omsk refinery's bitumen in road construction

Kazakhstan bans use of Omsk refinery's bitumen in road construction
Photo by Marat Abilov©
Kazakhstan has banned use of bitumen produced by Omsk Oil Refinery (in Russia near Kazakhstan border) for construction of roads, Tengrinews.kz reports citing the press-service of the Ministry of Transport and Communications of Kazakhstan.

“KazDorNII (Kazakhstan Road R&D Institute) has made tests of the asphalt-concrete samples of bitumen of the major manufacturers and suppliers of these goods to our market. The tests showed that the bitumen produced by Omsk Oil Refinery has low rutting resistance. Besides, the test revealed anomalies in behavior of the asphalt-concrete: the said bitumen created a binding coating at the rut surface,” the press-service writes.

The results of the tests have already been sent to the manufacturer. Besides, the ministry notified the territorial divisions of the Roads Commission, KazakhAvtoDor, the contractors and administrations of oblasts and cities of the temporary suspension of the use of the bitumen produced by Omsk Oil Refinery in construction and repair works on the roads in Kazakhstan.

Rutting is considered to be one of the main distress found in asphalt pavements, especially when the ambient temperature is as high as 40 degrees Centigrade, like in Kazakhstan. Generally rutting is caused by the accumulation of irreversible and permanent deformation in all pavement layers under the action of repeated traffic loadings. Therefor rutting resistance of hot-mix asphalt surface layer, which usually consists of multi-layer asphalt mixtures, is very important.

Bitumen is used as a binder to build both the pavement structure and the wearing course. Liquid at the high temperature, bitumen is mixed with aggregate to manufacture bituminous concrete, which remains sufficiently workable to be placed and compacted. At ambient temperatures, bitumen behaves as a viscoelastic material providing both stability and flexibility that are two essential properties for long lasting pavements. In addition, bitumen has good adhesive and waterproofing characteristics, which ensures resistance to climatic aggression, and therefore durability.

For more information see: http://en.tengrinews.kz/companies/Kazakhstan-bans-use-of-Omsk-refinerys-bitumen-in-road-construction-20494/

June 25, 2013

Paving Stones to replace Asphalt Roads

CONSIDERING the peculiar soil texture and the fact that Lagos State is prone to flooding, the state government has directed firms handling its road reconstruction jobs to adopt the use of paving stones instead of asphalt at troublesome spots. In-fact, it has purchased paving stones production machines for the Public Works Corporation of the Ministry of Works saddled with the responsibility of fixing street roads.

Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN), penultimate week, commissioned the first ever paving stone production line of the Lagos State Public Works Corporation at Ojodu, saying government would continue to be creative and resourceful in its unceasing work to keep Lagos roads motorable. The newly commissioned production plant will produce paving stone making machines for interlocking blocks which would be useful in many waterlogged areas of Lagos where asphalt and bitumen do not thrive.

Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola (left), Special Adviser to the Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Ganiyu Johnson (3rd right) and the Executive Chairman, Public Works Corporation, Mr. Gbenga Akintola (right) inspecting the Paving Stone Production Line during its commissioning at the Lagos State Public Works Corporation, Ojodu Berger, Lagos.
Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola (left), Special Adviser to the Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Ganiyu Johnson (3rd right) and the Executive Chairman, Public Works Corporation, Mr. Gbenga Akintola (right) inspecting the Paving Stone Production Line during its commissioning at the Lagos State Public Works Corporation, Ojodu Berger, Lagos.

He said: “But for me, having bought this machine, the next step is how we are going to make this machine. I have already challenged the engineers, the next set of these machines must be made in Lagos and they have the research funds and  materials. We are not just going to be consuming, everything we buy now, we want to know what works inside and how it works.”

Commending the management of the corporation for being innovative and forward looking, the governor said, “so far, so good and the march continues. They have also built their moulds to start casting drains and are increasingly becoming a local arm for building our roads, so the capacity is increasing and I think the workers are happy.”

The governor described the tonnage of cargo on Lagos roads as excruciating because “there is no other city that has and subjects its roads to the kind of tonnage that Lagos experiences without rail for evacuating goods from the port and still keeps traffic moving like this. I tell people that keeping Lagos traffic moving with the cargo that comes through our ports every day is perhaps the eighth miracle of the world. The Public Works Corporation is our parastatal for addressing the maintenance issue of our roads while the ministry uses contractors to build new roads.”

With the launch, the agency is increasing its capacity as the asphalt plant that was down before is now up and running while also selling asphalt to other government agencies within and outside the state. Fashola added that a lot was happening in terms of human capacity development, welfare of the workers, health and safety in the yard and environmental aesthetics, stressing that the journey continues.

Stone paving has become a popular alternative to Asphalt. Stone pavers are fast becoming the choice for road construction because of their low maintenance appeal with minimal upkeep. The popularity of paving stones is expanding rapidly in the United States. Experts in the business say the market is experiencing rapid growth and is poised to continue growing as the benefits of stone pavers become better known.

Advantages of paving stones: There are limitless patterns, colours, textures, shapes, sizes, and designs that can dramatically enhance the beauty of the road. Areas finished in interlock have no failure rate, no unsightly cracking or flaking. It wears well and is easy to clean. The pavers flex with the expansion and contraction of the ground.

Oil, gas, paint spills or other permanent stain or damage would incur substantial costs to fix with other resurfacing products. With interlock, it requires just removal of the stone and replacement with new one. Permanence and endurance mean that paved areas never need re-paving. They are there for the duration of their lifetime guarantee! Interlocking paving stones are ideal for walkway paving, driveway paving, patio paving and pool deck paving.


June 24, 2013

Bitumen Vessel Tanked

A commercial Cypriot ship, Nisar R3, loaded with 816 tonnes of bitumen, sank just 1.4 nautical miles from Sultan Qaboos Port on Wednesday.

The sinking of the ship led to the death of the ship's Iranian captain, while nine of the ship's Indian crew members were rescued by the Omani Coast Guard and naval vessels. The rescue vessels also recovered some of the bitumen, which had spread to the shores of the wilayats of Muscat and Muttrah.

Earlier, the control tower at Sultan Qaboos Port had received a report from the distressed ship in a state of emergency, since seawater was flowing onboard, and the ship lacked the necessary equipment to drain the water. 

Two tugboats were immediately rushed to the site but arrived only after the ship was completely submerged. Coast Guard officers rescued nine Indians and transferred them to the police hospital for treatment, but the captain of the ship could not be found; his body was recovered the next day.

Meanwhile, Sulaiman Al Akhazami, director of the Department of Planning and Studies, which acts as a pollution operations centre at the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs, said a committee has been formed to tackle this incident. 

Al Akhazami noted that the committee has activated a plan to combat oil pollution by forming field teams to conduct anti-pollution operations and recover the contents of the ship.

It has also commissioned companies that specialise in combating oil pollution to clean up the pollution created by the incident.

Al Akhazami pointed out that the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs was making a concerted effort to protect the marine environment from oil pollution by implementing an integrated strategy in the area, including the development of specific guidance for dealing with oil spills and determining the structure of operations designed to combat oil spills.

The ministry has called upon all fishermen and seagoers to take precautions and cooperate with the teams formed to handle the incident, and report any contaminants they may notice.

June 21, 2013

Pet Coke turning refineries into Coal Factories

The wind picked up dust from the open-air petroleum coke pile on the side of the Detroit  River as the

The image of a three-story pile of petroleum coke covering an entire city block by the Detroit River that appeared in a May 17, 2013 New York Times story was a wake-up call for me.
The rising accumulation of this toxic material, also known as “petcoke,” is a waste by-product of the booming Canadian tar sands (bitumen) extraction, refining and distribution industry. It is similar to coal, but with even higher CO2 emissions, heavy metals and carcinogenic PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon) content. Petcoke sells at a significant discount to coal, and is increasingly blended with coal in coal-fired power plants making coal-fired generation cheaper and dirtier.

What does petcoke and tar sands have to do with us here in the San Juan?
The proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal, the largest coal export facility in North America, is also designed to handle and export dirty petcoke out of Cherry Point through our surrounding waters.
Petcoke is already produced as a refinery byproduct in Anacortes and Cherry Point. Up to 6,000 tons of coke are shipped weekly from the Anacortes refineries by train to the Alcan Inc. aluminum smelter in Kitimat, British Columbia. 

As more tar sands are refined, petcoke production will increase.

Sticky bitumen, extracted from tar sands in Alberta and mixed with diluents to allow the mixture (“diluted bitumen” or “dilbit”) to flow, is transported through the existing pipeline from Alberta to refineries in Washington. As conventional oil from Alaska declines in production, tar sands oil will play an increasing role in meeting the U.S. demand. A plan is already in the works to more than double the pipeline capacity to move more tar sands oil through our Salish Sea. 

Petcoke is thus the coal hiding in tar sands oil boom and is turning refineries into coal factories and our surrounding waters into dirty fossil fuel highway to Asia!
We are only beginning to see how tangled we are in this coal, tar sands oil, petcoke production and transportation business. 

One local risk and potential impact arises from the open-air piles of petcoke at the Port of Anacortes awaiting shipment (by ship and by rail, in open box cars).  The petcoke must be misted to reduce the release of toxic dust. The capture and treatment of this toxic dust and water mixture is at best diverted into the Anacortes sewage treatment plant, which does not detoxify heavy metals or PAHs.
These carcenogens likely end up in Padilla Bay and Salish Sea and bio-accumulate in shell fish, salmons, orcas and seafood-loving humans.

The growth of industrial petcoke activity may not be ours by conscious choice, but we can certainly do what we can to keep toxic coal, petcoke and tar sands oil off our food, waters and shoreline. 

We can contact our local councilmen, representatives and legislatures to voice our concerns and demands for proper regulations, and choose to make steps towards less fossil-fuel-dependent lifestyle to wean ourselves from the hydrocarbon industry.

Visit lopeznocoalition.wordpress.com to get sources of information for this column.

Special to the sounder
Chom Greacen works internationally in the field of energy, ranging from policy, legal and regulatory framework to small-scale system design and installation.

June 20, 2013

Bitumen Market

According to a new market report published by Transparency Market Research (http://www.transparencymarketresearch.com) "Bitumen (Paving, Oxidized, Cutback and PMB) Market For Roadways, Roofing, Adhesives and Insulation-Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2012 - 2018," the global bitumen demand was 103.94 million tons in 2011 and is expected to reach 121.99 million tons in 2018, growing at a CAGR of 2.3% from 2012 to 2018. In terms of revenue, the market was valued at USD 66.70 billion in 2011 and is expected to reach USD 84.42 billion in 2018, growing at a CAGR of 3.5% from 2012 to 2018.

Growing road construction activities in fast growing regional markets of China and India are expected to drive the growth of the bitumen market in Asia. Furthermore, there is an increasing use of Polymer Modified Bitumen (PMB) in road construction, water-proofing of roofs and consumer goods, as properties of PMB can be altered to suit different needs. However, extraction of bitumen from oil sands has environmental issues associated with it that could hamper the demand for bitumen.

Road construction was the largest application segment for bitumen and accounted for over 80% of the global bitumen consumption in 2011. Water-proofing of roofs was the next largest application segment, consuming over 12 million tons of bitumen in 2012. In addition, bitumen is used as an adhesive and insulating material in a variety of general industrial applications.

The report includes a detailed analysis of the bitumen market in terms of volume and revenue. In addition, the study covers demand forecast of each application in various geographies of North America, Europe, China, Asia Pacific (excluding China) and Rest of the World. The report comprises of the following segments:

Bitumen Market:Product Segment Analysis

    Paving Bitumen

    Oxidized Bitumen

    Cutback Bitumen

    Bitumen Emulsion

    Polymer Modified Bitumen (PMB)


Bitumen Market: Application Analysis


    Waterproofing (Roofing)



    Others (decorative, industrial uses)

The report provides estimates and forecast on volume basis for applications (roadways and waterproofing (roofing)) based on various grades that include:

    Hard Grade

    Soft Grade

    Polymer Modified Bitumen (PMB)

The report highlights bitumen consumption for every application in the following regions:

    North America



    Asia Pacific (excluding China)

    Rest of World

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/06/19/5507846/global-bitumen-market-is-expected.html#storylink=cpy

June 19, 2013

Paver Block to replace Bitumen

Lanes and by-lanes of Madurai are getting a new look. Instead of the conventional bitumen roads, the municipal corporation has started laying paver blocks in several stretches of roads in the city.

The road laying works have gained momentum and the civic body is hoping to complete them before the onset of monsoon. The corporation has decided to lay paver blocks instead of bitumen topping as the former is supposed to have better resistance towards rains thereby minimising damage during monsoon and ending the menace of potholes. The city corporation had tried out paver blocks in few stretches of arterial roads including near Periyar Bus Stand and Arasaradi and has now started laying the blocks in much smaller roads that connect streets and residential areas.

Corporation commissioner R Nanthagopal inspected the paver block laying work at a cost of Rs 23.4 lakh in Thanappamudhaliyar street, the Rs 24.9 lakh project on Vadugakaval Koodal street and Rs 4.9 lakh work on Bhagat Singh street. He urged the workers to expedite the road laying work. In several areas like Anna Nagar, paver block work has already been completed on few streets.

"The road laying works need to be completed before the monsoons. Given the pace of work, we will be able to cover most of the stretches taken up for relaying," said a corporation official. The official said that paver blocks were laid on an experimental basis as they are expected to suffer less damage. Though paver blocks cannot replace bitumen topped roads totally, they are being used in possible stretches. "The most desirable aspect of paver blocks is that they would not get damaged during rains. Besides, paver blocks are also aesthetically appealing," said the officer.

In the budget estimates for 2013-14, the city corporation announced that road development works to the tune of Rs 37.19 crore would be taken up under the Tamil Nadu Urban Road Infrastructure Programme. Of the total amount, Rs 24.11 crore was earmarked for bitumen road, Rs 12.82 crore for paver block road and 26 lakh for cement concrete road. In addition to this, the corporation had also chalked out a Rs 24 crore road laying work in 2012, a part of which is also laying paver blocks.

The civic body had to take up these extensive road laying works, as several stretches of the road were damaged during the laying of the underground drainage (UGD) works under National River Conservation Plan and Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission ( JnNURM) as well as during the implementation of the second phase of Vaigai drinking water scheme.
  Source- Times of India

June 15, 2013

Moving Bitumen By Rail is the Cheaper Option ?

Pitting rail against Keystone XL overlooks messy economic reality
The spring's hottest Keystone XL debate sounds both arcane and elegantly simple: Can the sort of crude-by-rail surge now taking place in the Bakken Shale move north to Canada's oil sands if the White House rejects the most famous pipeline in America?

But such a cut-and-dried question obscures the complex reality of oil pricing markets whipsawed in recent years by peripatetic pricing for North American crudes. Whether trains prove a strong long-term choice to send heavy Canadian crude south ultimately may depend on the very thing that rail's viability is now linked to -- new pipeline capacity to the Gulf Coast, symbolized by Keystone XL.

"Federal approval is not the end of the story on whether Keystone XL is built," Katherine Spector, head of commodities strategy at CIBC World Markets, said this week at an Bipartisan Policy Center forum on oil. "To me, it's a matter of the timeline. Does it take so long that other options become more economical?"
The State Department's March Keystone XL review cast rail in the leading role among those other options, citing its boom in the Bakken Shale and projections of increased western Canadian crude-by-train traffic for 2013 as evidence that oil sands development would suffer little if the iconic pipeline were not built. Yet environmentalists and Wall Street analysts have undercut that Obama administration assessment repeatedly, making any new admission from the oil patch about XL's importance to future growth into a new liability for the industry.

Forecasts of 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) riding the rails out of western Canada this year provided the foundation for the State Department's judgment about the trains' ability to carry enough oil sands crude to "prevent shut-in of" new oil sands production without Keystone XL. However, those rail traffic numbers include types of Canadian oil beyond Keystone XL's diluted bitumen, from upgraded oil sands crude to light and heavy conventional fuel.

Unconventional heavy oil such as diluted bitumen accounts for 34 percent of Alberta's crude production, with light and heavy conventional breeds contributing 22 percent and lighter upgraded oil sands crude making up 39 percent, TD Economics reported in March.

"Where that 200,000 bpd is likely to go and whether it's light or heavy is very important," Natural Resources Defense Council International Program attorney Anthony Swift, a leading Keystone XL critic, told House members last month. "The key question is whether it's economically feasible to move heavy tar sands crude to the Gulf Coast refineries by rail. The answer appears to be no."

But oil sands producers are not limited to a pure choice between rail and pipeline to reach their destination. The two modes "are also tying in with barge movements, notably from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast, using rail or pipeline for part of the way and then barges down the Mississippi River for the last leg," the industry-backed Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI) wrote in its oil sands progress report last month.
One example of that new-school commute is a Canadian National Railway Co. (CN) terminal expected to open this month in Mobile, Ala. After disembarking from a CN train, oil sands can take a short pipeline or vessel ride to Gulf Coast refineries.

Even so, the 75,000-bpd CN terminal illustrates the challenge of predicting the oil sands' future without Keystone XL. Oil sands and light crude are both poised to travel there, making its fuel mix dependent on the biggest profit that producers can reap by buying in.

The industry calls the benefit for a real-world barrel, after production, transportation and every other cost is incurred, the "netback."

'An almost ever-changing array'

Higher oil prices and lower production costs generally increase netbacks. Given how depressed oil sands crude prices are in the absence of a White House green light for Keystone XL, using costlier rail to get Canadian fuel to the Gulf also can increase netbacks by letting producers charge higher prices.
The oil industry wants Keystone XL to help diluted bitumen fetch those higher, world-market prices for the long haul. But in the short run, as CN spokesman Mark Hallman explained in an interview, "rail helps producers access markets that are not pipeline-connected."

Regardless of whether construction ever starts on XL or its similarly stalled western-running competitor, Northern Gateway, other new oil sands crude pipeline connections are proceeding. Gateway sponsor Enbridge Inc. is in the midst of a U.S. network expansion likely to rival the entire capacity of Keystone XL, a massive project that does not require a presidential permit to cross the northern border.
If more pipeline connections decrease the netback potential for rail, then, oil sands shipped by train could sputter. But if Brent, West Texas Intermediate and Western Canadian Select prices continue to fluctuate as much as they have, the nimbler qualities of rail could prevail.

"It's not just a matter of adding up barrels" that determines how producers free up their crude for sale, Spector of CIBC observed. "How much value do companies devise from the optionality they might get from rail versus pipeline?"

CERI summed up the state of play in its May report, observing that the political problems plaguing XL and Gateway have sparked "an almost ever-changing array of new developments and proposals."

We are witnessing a race between production growth and infrastructure restructuring," the industry group wrote.

June 14, 2013

Asphalt Recycling

Powerscreen's XH320X tracked impact crusher at work
Powerscreen's XH320X tracked impact crusher at work 

Powerscreen launched the XH320X tracked impact crusher towards the end of last year, with the first prototype being sent to South Wales, UK, based Crush Ltd for extensive testing to be carried out.
The XH320X had been developed to include a fully independent hydraulically driven pre-screen to improve fines removal and reduce chamber wear costs.

It also features a hydraulically folding extended side conveyor with a stockpile height of 3.7 m (12.2 ft).

It is suited to medium-hard, mildly abrasive materials down to a cubical, well graded product size in a single pass. The Hydraulic Apron Adjustment/Control system allows for production of high quality cubically shaped finished product and with the additional optional grinding path for further reduction, allows the XH320X to produce even smaller consistent product gradation when required.

The hopper capacity has also been increased by the addition of hopper extensions that also can be hydraulically folded for transport. The new hopper design incorporates hydraulic locking pins for rapid setup time and removes the need for manual wedges.

The XH320X crusher has a full length product conveyor that is ideal for quarry applications with optional under pan feeder for recyclling applications where steel may be in the material. There is also the option of an extended hydraulically folding product conveyor that increases the stockpile height to 4 m (13.2 ft).
The XH320X can be powered by a Tier 3/Stage IIIA-compliant CAT C9 Acert 242kW (325hp) engine or a Tier 4i/Stage IIIB-compliant Scania DC9 83A 257kW (350hp) engine.

According to Crush Ltd’s operations director Ben Sherratt: “We had the XH320X on test for 9 months and were delighted with its performance. We tested the machine on a variety of applications including recycled asphalt, limestone and grit stone. The impressive performance of the XH320X test machine along with our direct input on design from a customer perspective allowed us to be involved in the final design which took on board the varying applications that a contractor has to work. This created a design which is much more flexible and suited to a crushing contractors need for versatility that ultimately led us to purchasing one of the first production machines.”

While on test, the machine first worked on highly abrasive grit stone where it produced an average of 180 tonnes per hour and 8,000 tonnes per week. When moved over to asphalt recycling, Ben said: “in this application it really excelled. When working on mixed recycled asphalt, the XH320X machine really performed, giving a very good consistent reduction.”

‍Recent increases in the cost of asphalt paving materials, namely the oils used in the bitumen cements and aggregates, have created an urgent need for new asphalt recycling technologies.

Written by Lindsay Gale - 13 Jun 2013  , Source- KHL.COM

Bitumen Bandits Strikes Again

The  Office of Fair Trading has received reports of a group of bitumen bandits operating in the Nambour area.

Residents are urged to be wary if approached by traders offering asphalt or other work for upfront cash.
They often do poor work using watered-down materials and leave before finishing.

Anyone who has concerns about traders who have approached them door-to-door should take notes about the trader and vehicle registration numbers, and contact the Office of Fair Trading via fairtrading.qld.gov.au or by calling 13 74 68.


June 13, 2013

Cleaning up the Tailing Ponds for Bitumen

Tailings ponds are toxic artificial lakes at mine sites where the byproducts of the extraction of bitumen are deposited. 
and companies have failed to comply with regulations requiring them to clean up their tailings ponds. However, Alberta's energy regulator says it will not impose penalties because it now believes the standards it set in 2009 were "overly optimistic."
 In a new report, the Energy Resources Conservation Board says from 2010 to 2012, not a single oilsands company was able to meet the tailings reductions targets set out in Directive 074. That directive - aimed at slowing the proliferation of tailings ponds in northern Alberta - was introduced a year after 1,600 ducks died in a toxic Syncrude tailings pond and thrust Alberta's oilsands industry into the national spotlight.

Tailings ponds are artificial lakes at mine sites used to store the byproducts produced when bitumen is extracted from oilsands. Directive 074 called for oilsands companies to reduce the amount of fine particles going into liquid tailings by 20 per cent by 2011, 30 per cent by 2012, and 50 per cent by 2013. It also said tailings ponds must be ready for reclamation five years after they stop being used.

However, the ERCB report indicates not only that operators have failed to meet their commitments, but the total volume of tailings in the oilsands has grown, not decreased.

ERCB executive manager Terry Abel said implementing the technology required to capture the fine particles - sand, water, clay and leftover bitumen - that make up the tailings has proved more difficult than expected.
"There's no question the ERCB's intent with Directive 74 was aggressive - we wanted it to be aggressive," Abel said. "But I think both industry and ourselves are finding that we were overly optimistic as to how quickly they could integrate various significant tailings management equipment and operations into those complex facilities."

Abel said since all the companies have committed significant resources to tailings management and appear to be doing what they can to try to meet the directive, the ERCB has no plans to impose any enforcement actions.

"We really feel, based on the progress they have made and what they are doing, that we realistically couldn't expect much more from them than what they've done at this point," he said.

Under Directive 074, each company is free to choose the technology it prefers to reduce fine tailings. Shell spokesperson David Williams said the company has captured one million tonnes of fine tailings at its Muskeg River Mine through a new process called "Atmospheric Fines Drying."

"We believe the pace at which this large-scale trial of a new technology was delivered is evidence of the significant focus and effort Shell has placed on Directive 074," Miller said.

Sneh Seetal, spokesperson for Suncor Energy, said the company has spent $1.3 billion implementing its tailings management technology across the whole of its operations.

June 12, 2013

Bitumen Production Update

Strata Oil & Gas Inc today released a regional update on bitumen production in the Peace River and nearby Athabasca regions of Alberta. Strata Oil recently completed a resource evaluation on both its Cadotte Central and Cadotte West holdings, a step that brings the Company to the cusp of the completion of Phase 1 of a five phase plan to develop its 52,480 acre holdings.
  • Strata Oil has a 3.4 billion barrel project in the oil sands of Alberta, the third largest proven crude reserve in the world, only after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. This significant 100%-owned resource solidifies Strata's position as world-class participant in the Alberta oil sands.
  • Trans-Canada has moved forward with the southern portion of its Keystone XL Pipeline, the Gulf Coast Pipeline Project. Having received the approval for the proposed route through Nebraska, Trans-Canada is anticipating approval this year for the northern portion of the Keystone XL Pipeline. This would bring the projected in-service date to 2015.
  • The Keystone Pipeline would give Alberta's crude oil producers access to a pipeline that will have the capacity to transport 830,000 barrels of oil per day, past major oil refineries in the American Midwest, all the way down to the Gulf Coast. The starting point of the Keystone pipeline would put the Peace River region, including Strata with its 3.4 billion barrel resource, in working proximity to the Keystone Pipeline.
  • The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline is advancing forward with plans to construct a pipeline stretching from the Alberta oil sands to a tanker port on the North Coast of British Columbia, Canada. This would give crude oil producers the ability to move 525,000 barrels of oil per day, allowing Canadian crude oils to be exported directly to countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Laricina Energy Ltd. has recently announced it has received ECRB (Energy Resources Conservation Board) approval for its Stony Mountain Pipeline project. The proposed pipeline would allow Laricina to transport 270,000 barrels of oil per day over a 187 km distance. Laricina is a major player in the Carbonates of Alberta.
  • Husky Energy has completed approximately two-thirds of Phase 1 of its Sunrise project, in the nearby Athabasca oil sands. Production for this project is on track to commence in 2014. The oil major has also filed application for a 3,000 barrel-per-day bitumen carbonate pilot at their Saleski project, also in the Athabasca oil sands.
  • Shell Canada has submitted a regulatory application, and is awaiting approval, for an 80,000 barrel-per-day expansion project of their Carmon Creek project. Currently, Shell is licensed to produce up to 12,500 barrels of bitumen per day at its Peace River complex, in addition to operating two heavy oil facilities recovering bitumen on the same site. Shell's Carmon Creek project is next door to Strata's Cadotte oil project in the Peace River oil sands.
"This is all tremendous news for Strata Oil shareholders. These large companies, our neighbors, are committing billions to producing bitumen from both sands and carbonates, even to the extent of building a $600 million pipeline to support it. This truly is an industry turning point. Carbonate-hosted bitumen is no longer a prospective target, but rather an economically viable, emerging world-class resource which will soon be flowing into domestic and international markets," says President and CEO of Strata Oil & Gas, Ron Daems.

All of this progress and advancement in the Alberta oil sands, including the Peace River region, attests to the economic viability of the carbonate play and its potential for tremendous growth. Major participants in this region continue to develop plans to increase production and pipeline infrastructure, ensuring the play's continued success.

Source- Marketwire

June 11, 2013

Uganda Upgrades Roads to Bitumen Standard

Kigumba-Masindi-Hima road to be upgraded to tarmac
The 135 km Kigumba-Masindi-Hima-Kabwoya road is set to be upgraded from gravel to bitumen standard by the end of this year. Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) recently initiated the procurement process for the road works.

The upgrade will be divided into two lots. Lot One comprises the upgrading of the Kigumba-Bulima road (69km), starting from Kigumba which is located approximately 210km from Kampala along the Kampala-Hoima highway. The road traverses the districts of Kiryadongo and Masindi.

Works on the Bulima-Kabwoya road (66km) will form Lot Two of the project.

“The road works shall comprise upgrading the existing Class B gravel road to Class II bitumen standard 7.0m wide carriageway and 1.5 to 2.0m wide shoulders on either side, with a gravel sub-base, graded crushed stone base and double bituminous surface treatment,” Dan Alinange, the roads authority’s head of corporate communications told New Vision.

The works will be funded through a loan from the African Development Bank (AfDB) and will cost about $150m, though the procurement process could alter its cost. The upgrade falls under The Road Sector Support Programme (RSSP4). It is co-financed by the Government, and various development partners including the AfDB. A number of roads are being constructed under RSSP4 including Nyakahita-Kazo and Kazo-Kamwenge roads.

Compensation of persons to be affected by this project is expected to commence in August.

Bombo expressway

Meanwhile, UNRA has also started the procurement process for consultancy services for feasibility study and detailed engineering design of the Kampala-Bombo expressway.

It is hoped that the expressway will ease the pressure on the Kampala-Bombo highway.
The contract will be awarded in November.

By Billy Rwothungeyo

June 10, 2013

Contractor Setting up Bitumen Reactor Plant

Construction and engineering group Basil Read continues to scout for work outside South Africa because the recovery in the local construction market is still being hampered by the slow roll-out of projects.
Marius Heyns, Basil Read’s chief executive, said the group was actively exploring niche markets with long-term prospects in infrastructural spending and had secured contracts in Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). 

Writing in the group’s latest annual report, Heyns said the group’s mining division, a specialist open pit contract mining service provider, had received a letter of intent from Weatherly International to perform contract mining services for the Tschudi copper project in Namibia, subject to Weatherly securing funding.
Heyns said Weatherly had signed a term sheet with a finance provider and mining activities were set to commence early next year. 

He said the group’s property development division had also embarked on a growth strategy to look at opportunities across the continent and a range of strategic partnerships had been established with financiers, housing development agencies and other developers with the aim of establishing and growing the group’s footprint “in a measured way”. 

Heyns said the division was exploring a range of housing development opportunities in Zambia, Rwanda and Kenya with further possibilities in Ghana and Tanzania. 

The group had also made impressive headway during the year in constructing an international airport on the island of St Helena, which was one of the largest projects ever awarded to the group.
The St Helena government and the UK Department for International Development in 2011 allocated R3.5 billion to develop the island’s first airport in a bid to unlock massive economic opportunity for the British overseas territory.

Work on the airport is due to be completed in 2015, with Basil Read and partner Lanseria Airport operating the airport for 10 years thereafter. 

Heyns said the local construction sector continued to be hampered by the slow roll-out of projects. Despite a steady improvement in margins, competition remained fierce and many large construction groups were securing the bulk of their order books beyond South Africa’s borders.

He said tender activity in the building division had picked up and the news that SA National Roads Agency’s 2013 budget was approved at more than R10bn was positive.Heyns said the bitumen supply shortage in the country contributed to the losses incurred by the group’s roads division and highlighted the need to secure consistent supply.

Basil Read’s wholly owned subsidiary, SprayPave, was establishing a bitumen reactor plant in the Western Cape that would enable the group to produce various grades of bitumen for its own sites and to support the sector, he said. The plant was expected to be operational in the second half of this year. 

Heyns said the government had reaffirmed its commitment to a large-scale infrastructure investment programme, which boded well for the group’s construction division.

June 5, 2013

Extraction of Bitumen

MCW Energy Group Extracts up to 99.9% of Hydrocarbon Content From Alberta Oil Sands Tailings Pond Samples During Preliminary Lab Tests
TORONTO--(Marketwired - June 04, 2013) - MCW Energy Group (TSX VENTURE: MCW) (MCW.V) ("MCW"), a Canadian holding company involved in fuel distribution and the creation of oil sands extraction technology, today announced successful results of processing random Alberta oil sands tailings ponds samples in a series of preliminary laboratory tests.

The separation/extraction tests utilizing MCW's proprietary extraction technology were recently completed by separating solid and liquid phases, analyzing the contents of both phases and then implementing MCW's extraction technology which is designed to extract all types of hydrocarbons from both solid and liquid phases.

Each of the tests were performed utilizing MCW's protocol three times. The analyzed samples consisted of a sand/soil mixture: 41% - 41%, water: 25% - 26%, Bitumen: 31% - 32%, cellulose and other impurities: less than 1%. Clean sand/soil and clean water with the solids content of less than 0.36% were obtained as three separate end products of the MCW extraction process.

The solid phase of the samples processed consisted of 6% to 6.5% of bitumen. The balance of the solid phase consisted of sand, clay and impurities of cellulose fibres. Subsequent to the MCW extraction process, all sand/clay, cellulose derivatives were practically removed from both the liquid phase and the bitumen. Clean water (for subsequent use in continuous processing and/or irrigation ) was produced as an end product. Bitumen was produced as a separate end product.

Using similar laboratory test protocols, MCW will now proceed with a second series of laboratory tests as per their signed Undertaking and Acknowledgement to obtain a third party independent validation from an acceptable Qualified Person as defined by NI-51-101 which must be acceptable by the Exchange in order to verify MCW's Extraction Technology.

Dr. Vladimir Podlipskiy, Chief Technology Officer for MCW Energy Group was pleased with the initial tailings pond extraction results. "Using our proprietary extraction technology, our first test results illustrated up to 99.9% of extracted hydrocarbons from these tailings pond samples from Alberta....the same rate of extraction that we've obtained in a laboratory environment from our Utah feedstock/ore samples," he stated.

The test results on these tailings pond samples could be significant to MCW as they provide several new potential revenue streams:

1. Technology licensing fees from joint venture partners worldwide in up to 70 countries with extensive tailings pond infrastructures.
2. Clean up and remedial fees from oil companies and/or governments.
3. Sale of hydrocarbons retrieved. The bitumen content of tailings ponds is usually up to three times the average hydrocarbon content of oil sands feedstock.

The Pembina Institute of Calgary estimates that over 200 million litres of mature fine tailings are produced each day in Alberta alone .These toxic deposits are stored indefinitely in open lakes that currently cover an area 50% larger than the entire city of Vancouver, B.C. Oil sands processing companies used over 170 million cubic meters of water in 2011 and the storage of these tailings potentially risk the ecosystem of the Athabasca River which flows into one of the world's largest freshwater deltas. MCW expects that after processing tailings ponds with its extraction technology the recovered water may be reused in standard oil sands extraction processes and/or for irrigation.

MCW Energy Group intends on licensing its technology, including the processing of tailings pond deposits on a worldwide basis. Last March 27th, 2013, MCW announced an intellectual property licensing agreement with a private arm's length Canadian company which has agreed to act as the sole agent and exclusive licensee of MCW's extraction technology for the countries of Canada and the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago. MCW Energy Group is currently assembling an initial 250 bbl/day extraction unit on its lease in Asphalt Ridge, Utah and expects to be testing during the months of July and August, 2013.

Source - Stockhouse

June 1, 2013

Civil Contractor to Own Bitumen Storage Facility

Civils contractor FM Conway has announced plans to import bitumen at its Imperial Wharf site in Gravesend, Kent.

Chief executive Michael Conway
A multi-million pound refurbishment of the site, on the River Thames, will see the facility’s existing jetty and tank farm refurbished to enable the docking and storage of up to 7,500 tonnes of bitumen.  FM Conway is aiming for the site to be operational by April 2014.

FM Conway will use the river to reduce road transport.
The company is currently transporting aggregates by river to serve its asphalt plant in Erith, which has seen it cut 1,250 tonnes of carbon each year by removing 15,000 truck journeys on London’s roads.

Chief executive Michael Conway said: “The ability to independently import bitumen will form part of our self-delivery model. This gives us full control over our supply, allows us to cut input costs and, crucially, gives security of supply to our customers.”

Source -Construction Index