November 3, 2014

Bitumen Extraction Solvent Technology ( BEST)

Canada through Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) and the Government of Alberta through the Climate Change and Emissions Management Fund (CCEMC), its pilot project of Bitumen Extraction Solvent Technology (BEST) near Fort McMurray has reached a milestone of 25,000 barrels of oil production since its start-up in spring 2014. The patented technology in the BEST process is a water-free technology and produces 80-85 percent lower Green House Gas (GHG) emissions during extraction.

N-Solv Corporation (N-Solv) is pleased to announce that, with funding from the Government of

"Our Government's investments are supporting Canadian skilled jobs and improving environmental outcomes," said the Honourable Greg Rickford, Canada's Minister of Natural Resources. "This technology serves as one example of how government and industry are further enhancing responsible development of Canada's abundant energy resources."

 "The pilot project clearly demonstrates that the science works. Reaching 25,000 barrels of production is on its own a major step in validating the technology, but we have also achieved that without any significant interruptions along the way, which speaks to the robustness of the process," said Dr. John Nenniger, N-Solv's CEO. "N-Solv has been fielding requests for scaled-up projects; we are reviewing them on a reservoir by reservoir basis."

"N-Solv's technology is proving to be of significant potential," said Murray Smith, N-Solv Vice-President of Business Development and former Alberta Energy Minister.

The N-Solv Bitumen Extraction Solvent Technology process utilizes the proven horizontal well technology developed for steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD), but differs in that it does not use any water. Instead, N-Solv uses warm propane or butane, which is injected as a vapor and condenses underground, washing the valuable compounds out of the bitumen.

In addition to the environmental significance of N-Solv's technology, it has lower operating and capital costs than other oilsands extraction techniques, and it produces lighter, more valuable oil through its solvent-based recovery process.

Alberta's oilsands contain over 170 billion barrels of recoverable oil, the third largest crude oil resource in the world. Eighty percent of that oil is too deep in the ground to be mined and so it is produced using in situ processes. Applicable to many in situ reservoirs, N-Solv's technology can also be particularly effective in thin bitumen zones and shallow reservoir environments.

Calgary-based, privately held N-Solv Corporation was founded a decade ago to develop new technologies that produce cleaner and more sustainable energy from the oilsands. The company holds a significant intellectual property related to the technology and has received grant support from the Canadian and Alberta governments through Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) and the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC). N-Solv Corporation is making access to its technology available to the industry through numerous business models, including various forms of licensing as well as partnerships in projects.

"We are so proud of N-Solv for achieving this significant milestone and for helping to revolutionize oil extraction technologies," said Jane Pagel, interim CEO of SDTC, "It is technologies like these that help to create jobs, revenue, economic growth and export opportunities for Canada. This company is a true testament to the cleantech sector and SDTC is excited to see where N-Solv goes next."
The CCEMC focuses on stimulating transformative change by funding projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help Alberta adapt to climate change. Funding for the CCEMC is sourced from Alberta's large industrial emitters. In Alberta, large emitters have a mandatory legislated requirement to achieve specified reductions of greenhouse gases. If they're unable to reach their target, one option is to pay a levy of $15 per tonne into the Climate Change and Emissions Management Fund. The fund is administered by the Government of Alberta and the CCEMC receives grants from the fund to support its work.
Funded by the Government of Canada, Sustainable Development Technology Canada helps move Canadian clean technologies forward, readying them for growth and export markets. With a portfolio of companies under management valued at more than $2 billion, SDTC is demonstrating that cleantech is a driver of jobs, productivity and economic prosperity.


October 30, 2014

Readymade Bitumen

Coimbatore Mayor P. Rajkumar (second right) with Commissioner S. Ganesh (right) and Deputy Commissioner P. Gandhimathi (third right) inspecting the wet tar mix that was applied on a pothole on experimental basis on Thadagam Road on Tuesday. – PHOTO: S. SIVA SARAVANAN
Coimbatore Mayor P. Rajkumar (second right) with Commissioner S. Ganesh (right) and Deputy Commissioner P. Gandhimathi (third right) inspecting the wet tar mix that was applied on a pothole on experimental basis on Thadagam Road on Tuesday. – PHOTO: S. SIVA SARAVANAN

It can be used as easily as dumping gravel in potholes

Coimbatore Corporation has begun exploring the possibility of using readymade bitumen mix to fill potholes, whose various incarnations are across the city. 

The suggestion for using the readymade bitumen, which could be used with as much ease as dumping gravel in potholes, came after Mayor P. Rajkumar, Commissioner S. Ganesh and Deputy Commissioner P. Gandhimathi inspected the use of the bitumen mix, called ‘Road Bond’, on Thadagam Road on Tuesday.
Hindustan Colas Limited, a unit of Hindustan Petroleum, has been marketing to various government agencies, the use of the bitumen mix, which has unheated mineral aggregate and emulsified bitumen.

V. Vijayaraghavan, Regional Business Head – South Zone, says that the Chennai Corporation has taken up the suggestion to use Road Bond to not only fill potholes but also lay roads.

The advantages of using the product are that no heating is required, it has consistent mix quality, has resistance to peel off under traffic, is environment friendly and needs minimum human resource to be spread on the road. 

He says that after the company mooted the proposal to the Central Government the product is being used in laying rural roads. Another plus is that Road Bond can be used even when the surface is wet and it is drizzling. Commissioner Mr. Ganesh says that the civic body has to study the impact of using the product, its quality, longevity and above all the economics of the process.

Source- The Hindu

October 27, 2014

Mixing Bitumen with Fuel

It is possible to sell marine fuel oil or petrol under the guise of bitumen.

This happened in Saudi Arbia and the Asian importers mixed petrol with bitumen and called it as Cut-back bitumen. Hence Saudi has stopped/ banned export of bitumen itself a few years ago. Now it is the Russian trun.. pls read on.

It became known today that Moscow threatens Minsk to launch an investigation over a sharp 95-fold increase in the export of bitumen mixes. Economist Leanid Zaika told about possible results of the investigation and the Kremlin's reaction.

– An investigation will be carried out anyway, because Belarusian chemists appeared to be too creative with their solvents and bitumen mixes. These are heavy oil fractions. They can have different concentration and be sold as bitumen mixes, fuel oil and pure petrol,” he said.

– Why does Belarus continues its dubious business after the scandal with “solvents”?
– This is the initiative of our business. It happens so that Belarusian businessmen have a passion for chemistry. It seems that two oil refineries are enough to make permitted products, sell petrol and diesel fuel, but they want to invent something new.

The current situation with Russia is so that except for being a gentleman's rule, the compliance with contractual obligations is an argument in comparing approaches and results. The Kremlin will not close its eye to it, especially taking into account falling prices of oil and, therefore, oil products. Russia's oil trade balance is behind that of Switzerland. This country exports more oil than Russia! Russia has to count every dollar. In addition, it was permitted to use the difference between internal and external prices, which is called the export duty. It is an ingenious invention of Russians. Marx followers in the Kremlin probably did a great work. So, they need to deal with the problem that appeared recently.

As for refining, we are likely to receive 23 tonnes of oil next year and have to get satisfied with it. Belarus is addicted to oil. If Russia uses Spice drugs, we kill our economy with cheap oil. Certain businessmen try to earn on it. It is a very complicated scheme that needs the approval of the country's highest officials. If you want to take different petroleum products and call them bitumen mixes, you need to have the approval of both chiefs of marketing departments and top-ranking officials.

– Are the authorities involved in this business?
– Top officials are involved in everything. You can see a master hand everything in Belarus. The “master” even knows how to write books. Oil refining cannot go without him.

– What consequences will Belarus face if the investigation reveals the bitumen scheme?
– There will be quiet talks on the phone. Various excuses are possible – bad financial situation, newly discovered old problems. There's no sense for the authorities to stir up a conflict.

Source- Charter97

October 17, 2014

Return of the Bitumen Bubble

The Author discusses the Bitumen Bubble in waiting if the curdue oil price falls below USD 80.

Just when you think you're finding your way out of the woods, there's that damned Bitumen Bubble again.
This time, it's crude oil prices that are declining -- or, as they say in journalese, the official language of the Internet, "plummeting."

This is handy for conservatives once they're elected and want to cut the crap out of public services they promised to protect, but not so good in the lead-up to an election during the phase when conservative governments of all stripes go into a tax-and-spend-liberal-spree mode and shower dollars on electors.
The special problem facing newly selected Progressive Conservative Premier Jim Prentice out here on the western edge of the Great Aspen Parklands is that his principal opponent in the upcoming Oct. 27 mini-election, in which he hopes to get his own place in the Legislature and a couple more for his two unelected cabinet members, is another conservative party.

Before October 27 and certainly before the next general election, the Wildrose Party under would-be premier Danielle Smith will scream if the budget isn't balanced, and large numbers of cherry-picking voters will grow surly and disagreeable if it is, leastways if that means their particular enthusiasms aren't fully funded.
Imagine how much easier things would be for Prentice's PCs if the official Opposition party were the NDP!

Well, New Democrats will be working on that this weekend in Edmonton, but in the meantime the premier is just going to have to figure out a way to live with the cranky deficit scolds from the Wildrose opposition who don't have the disadvantage of having to actually run the place at the same time as they're trying to live down fired premier Alison Redford’s gruesome reputation.

It's always astonishing to me that conservative politicians -- who supposedly have the inside track on thinking like business people -- can’t figure out that commodity prices are cyclical. In other words, this week's oil-prices-are-too-low crisis can turn overnight in to an oil-prices-are-too-high crisis, and Prentice most certainly hopes it does.

Meanwhile, a new public opinion poll by ThinkHQ Public Affairs suggests Prentice's PCs are enjoying a bit of a honeymoon bounce -- although not necessarily where they need it the most for the four upcoming by-elections, three of which are in Calgary and one here in Edmonton.

ThinkHQ President Marc Henry's take Tuesday on these numbers was that "Tory fortunes have turned sharply positive" and, moreover, "the momentum shift is in the Tories' favour." author Eric Grenier's analysis of the same numbers yesterday, however, was that while the poll shows the Prentice PCs are closer to the Wildrose popularity numbers than they've been for a while, the Wildrose is doing well enough in Calgary it will be hard for the government to win all four seats.
So, from the PC perspective, this close to four crucial and highly symbolic by-elections was probably not the right moment for the media to start chanting gloom and doom about oil prices at the shocking thought of oil descending to a mere $82 per barrel.

Meanwhile, also yesterday, without any fanfare whatsoever, the government quietly issued a proclamation repealing the Redford Government's draconian Bill 46. That law -- technically known as the Public Service Salary Restraint Act -- would have enabled the government to order the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees back to work with a truly crappy contract had not the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench intervened last February and granted the union an injunction blocking the law's application.

The court's scathing ruling -- which excoriated the Redford government for bargaining in bad faith and other labour relations sins -- blew the government's entire strategy for dealing with its public service unions to smithereens.

In a way, the repeal of Bill 46 is meaningless -- a negotiated deal with AUPE after the injunction was issued having effectively rendered it moot.

Nevertheless, it can hardly have been unintended that one of the few remaining relics of Redford's bizarre anti-labour legislative agenda was tossed over the side the day before AUPE’s 38th annual convention was scheduled to start. That meeting will commence at 9:00 this morning with 800 or so AUPE members belting out Solidarity Forever.

Prentice's hope, it is said here, must have been that the symbolism of this will remind unionized public employees of the dangers of voting for an even more conservative party than the PCs.

However, still remaining on the law books, sort of, is the odious Bill 45 -- the Public Sector Services Continuation Act, which effectively banned free speech by all Albertans if they happened to feel like advocating a public service strike.

This bill was given Royal Assent on the same day as Bill 46 -- December 11, 2013, another December day that shall live in infamy -- but was never proclaimed by the chicken-hearted Redford Tories, presumably to make it harder for the courts to get their hands on its self-evidently unconstitutional restrictions on free expression.

With Bill 46 on the floor where it belongs, one hopes Prentice will soon drop his party's other remaining legislative shoe as well.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.

By David J. Climenhaga

djclimenhaga's picture 
David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. His 1995 book, A Poke in the Public Eye, explores the relationships among Canadian journalists, public relations people and politicians. He left journalism after the strike at the Calgary Herald in 1999 and 2000 to work for the trade union movement. Alberta Diary focuses on Alberta politics and social issues.

October 15, 2014

Recycling of Roof Bitumen

The Dutch Roofing Association (NDA) is partnering with Roof2Roof to recycle existing bitumen roofs into new roof shingles. This collaboration gives this recycling niche 'national momentum', the organisations state. 
Roof2Roof organises and facilitates the recycling of bitumen roofing in the Netherlands according to a cradle-to-cradle philosophy. 

'We have developed a new method for recycling bitumen waste and strive to realise recycling on the most sustainable level,' says founder Martin Smit. The recyclate is ultimately used to replace virgin resources in the manufacture of new roofing products. 

The first joint project has been launched in the historic town of Varsseveld in Gelderland and is hailed as 'the first step towards a single goal - zero waste'. 

The Dutch recycler claims it has recycled up to 45 tonnes of bitumen to date, said to equate to the carbon dioxide emissions of a car travelling 238 500 km. 

October 11, 2014

Grand Pipe Line for Bitumen Approved

The Alberta Energy Regulator has approved the $3-billion Grand Rapids oil pipeline with 26 conditions.

The pipeline is designed to ship up to 900,000 barrels of diluted bitumen per day from near Fort McMurray, Alta., to the Edmonton area.

Several of the conditions deal with the pipeline's route and others deal with enhanced environmental monitoring and mitigation to better protect wildlife and wetlands.The approval follows two weeks of hearings this summer.

The hearings were boycotted by the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, which is an aboriginal group that lives in Alberta's oilsands region.The First Nation criticized the process as too rushed and skewed in favour of the oil industry.

Landowners, First Nation raise concerns

The Grand Rapids hearing was the first by the Alberta Energy Regulator since it replaced the Energy Resources Conservation Board last year and took over duties from the province's environment department.
The Grand Rapids pipeline is a 50-50 partnership between Calgary-based TransCanada and a unit of PetroChina.

The Athabasca Chipewyan has called it the "mother of all pipelines," with a capacity nearly double what the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline would ship to the B.C. coast.

The First Nation has said more high-profile projects, such as Energy East and Keystone XL, would not be able to go ahead without volumes from Grand Rapids.

TransCanada has disputed that characterization, saying Energy East and Keystone XL don't hinge on Grand Rapids being built.

Grand Rapids pipeline project

The Grand Rapids pipeline project is a 50-50 partnership between Calgary-based TransCanada and a unit of PetroChina. (TransCanada)

Source- CBC News

October 7, 2014

Tanzania Produces Bitumen Emulsion

The first ever bituminous emulsion production has been commissioned in the country. The bituminous emulsion production plant owned by Starpeco Limited was inaugurated over the weekend in Dar es Salaam.

Bitumen emulsions generally belong to the oil-in-water type of emulsions where bitumen is dispersed in water with the aid of a small quantity of an emulsifying agent.

Bitumen emulsions are mainly used in road construction and maintenance. Starpeco Limited Managing Director, Mr Mratian Nshekanabo, told journalists that the availability and effective use of Emulsion product will change the Tanzania construction industry.

“The cold mix technique will change the way we are doing things in the construction and maintenance of roads,” he said. The MD said that the company was proud that the plant has been constructed, erected and finished to the best standard and practices.

“It is formulated and produced products match with international and regional standards,” he said. The plant can produce all types of bituminous emulsion with a capacity of 10,000 litres/hour. The plant is manufactured in Ukraine but its main controlling components (contractors, sensors etc) are from Italy and France.
Mr Nshekanabo said the plant will create direct employment to 25 people and more than 100 indirect jobs. “This will also create demand for other industries (Metal for drums), paint, transportation of plant inputs and outputs, Laboratories, chemicals,” he said.

The Acting Deputy Director, Rural and Urban Roads, Ministry of Works, Mr Hassan Matimbe, said the plant supports the country’s industrialisation efforts and will reduce the importation of Emulsion product and save the national foreign currency.

The company’s Senior Marketing Officer, Mr Jones Mkoka, noted that the plant supports Tanzania’s aim to transform the economy into a middle class.

“Industrialisation is one of the major factors of to realise this objective,” he said. He noted that Starpeco decided to invest in the emulsion bitumen plant in order to produce and make available emulsion bitumen in the country instead of importing.

The company also plans to sell the product which will trade as colabinder outside the country to the Great Lakes region where emulsion bitumen is not readily produced.

“By using emulsion bitumen the government, through Ministry of Works and TANROADS, will manage to reduce costs of roads construction and the funds can be reallocated to other uses,” he said.
According to experts, emulsion bitumen is the most economical bitumen binder in comparison with cut back bitumen binder as it uses water instead of kerosene (cutter).

“It is cheaper and environment-friendly,” he said. Colabinder will only cost between 20 per cent and 30 per cent less than present costs. In the region, emulsion bitumen is only produced in Kenya and Zambia.

October 3, 2014

Rubber Roads for Kerala

In order to extend a helping hand to the struggling 1 milllion plus growers across Kerala, the state government today decided to increase the use of  rubber based bitumen for making and repairing roads.

Chief minister Oommen Chandy has announced this today  after a cabinet meeting. Addressing a press briefing   he said that the Public Works Department (PWD) would order more from Bharat Petroleum Corporation’s Kochi Refinery.

Rubber growers are now in doldrums as the price had dropped almost 50% during last three years. The price of bench mark grade RSS-4 dropped to Rs 122/Kg from Rs 240, recorded in September, 2011.

He also said that the hike in land registration fee and will not be reduced or withdrawn. There are reports that today’s cabinet will consider a reduction in these on account of the public protest. He categorically denied this and said that the hike will be in effect from today onwards.

All the plastic boards across the state will be removed as part of a  Cleaning drive that starts from 2nd October. He said that all the flux boards of ministers will be removed immediately. Ministers will lead the drive in each district.  The government also mulls legislation against the exhibition of plastic boards in the state.

Meanwhile,  Minister for Urban Affairs and Welfare of Minorities,  Manjalamkuzhi Ali said that a programme to collect plastic waste from 65 municipalities at Rs 2 per kg will be launched on October 2. The programme will be inaugurated by the Chief Minister. A plan has also been chalked out to collect e-waste at Rs 5 per kg, he added.

'The Clean Company’ will collect the garbage through municipalities. Now, 1,000 tones of plastic waste remain untreated across the state on  a daily basis.

Clean Kerala will hand over the garbage collected from various municipal  wards to a private agency. Students, volunteers, social workers, casual labourers and Kudumbashree workers  will be part of the initiative.

Ali said plastic waste collection centres would be started in corporations and selected municipalities in the second phase of the project. The first centre of its kind will be launched in Kochi in October itself. The minister said a septic  treatment plant will be started in Kochi to treat septic waste.

Source - The Business Standard

September 25, 2014

Fire in Bitumen Tanks

SECTIONS of the Port of Brisbane were shut down tonight after a silo exploded and burst into flames.

As many as 12 fire crews accompanied by six specialist vehicles raced out to a bitumen company on Bulk Terminals Rd just after 6pm to find a 55-tonne tank alight.

The tank containing bitumen in liquid form had overheated, causing the explosion, which is understood to have blown the roof off the silo.

Police quickly shut down Port Drive and set up a large exclusion zone.
Firefighters managed to douse the blaze by 6.45pm but continued to battle hard to cool the silo down to ensure it would not reignite.

Within a couple of hours, all emergency services crews had left the scene. Management continued the cooling down process.

No persons were injured during the explosion, although a firefighter required the attention of paramedics on standby after sustaining a hand injury while fighting the blaze.

The male firefighter was transported to the PA Hospital with a suspected fracture.

Source- Couriermail

September 24, 2014

Cement Replacing Bitumen in India

According to local reports, the Indian government has decided to use cement instead of bitumen (a popular raw material for road construction) for all new road projects throughout the country. 

The decision is in line with a proposal by Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, who pushed for the use of cement for road construction, as it is more durable and cheaper to maintain, despite being more expensive in the short-term.

Gadkari stated that, given the volume of work still pending in various states (and plans to achieve an average road-building capacity of 30 km per day in the next two years), the Union ministry would ensure that prices come down. 

According to reports, the ministry is set to revive the sluggish cement industry and restart four of the seven closed public sector plants as part of its aim to reduce prices and obtain cement at a cost of around Rs.160 – 170 per bag (compared to the proposed rate of Rs.350 per bag).

According to ministry officials, detailed reports will be carried out to assess the project cost of using cement. The projects will be evaluated on the basis of the life cycle cost of the project (including maintenance costs), rather than by using just the cost of construction. Cement will be used for all new projects, as long as the cost of construction of a concrete road is not more than 20% higher than that of a road constructed using bitumen, said the officials.


September 19, 2014

Govt Backs Bitumen Production

Government still backing bitumen refinery

Energy Minister Frank Oberle says the PC government remains committed to the Sturgeon bitumen refinery.

Photograph by: Gavin Young , Calgary Herald

The Prentice government is fully committed to an Edmonton-area bitumen refinery despite concerns over major cost overruns, says Alberta’s new energy minister.

The government revealed this summer that it will pay $26 billion in tolls to the Sturgeon refinery — formerly known as the North West Upgrader — to process bitumen it receives as royalties over the 30-year life of the project. Previously it had committed to pay $19 billion.

In an op-ed published in the Herald this week, former Tory energy minister Ted Morton said that the hefty price tag makes “it even less likely that the investment will ever break even.”
But Frank Oberle — appointed energy minister by new Premier Jim Prentice on Monday — said the project remains profitable for the government.

“We are convinced in the value of this project and in the value it creates for our industry, for the upgrading potential it has in Alberta and the job-creating potential it has,” Oberle said in an interview Wednesday,
The project also helps the province leverage the price differential between conventional oil and bitumen, he said.

During the summer Progressive Conservative leadership campaign, Prentice said there was a strong benefit from the project because it increased upgrading and the production of diesel in Alberta.
The refinery, under construction near Fort Saskatchewan, will be operated by a partnership between North West Upgrading Inc. and Canadian Natural Upgrading Ltd., a subsidiary of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.

Its first phase will process 50,000 barrels per day of raw bitumen under fee-for-service processing agreements with the Alberta government and CNRL.
Alberta will provide 75 per cent of the bitumen under the government’s bitumen-royalty-in-kind (BRIK) program.

September 12, 2014

Less Bitumen in the Coming Days

FM Conway has forged a deal with ExxonMobil to import bitumen from its refinery near Antwerp in Belgium

First delivery to Imperial Wharf bitumen terminal  
 First delivery to Imperial Wharf bitumen terminal

The bitumen lands at FM Conway’s new Imperial Wharf site on the River Thames in Gravesend, Kent, which has gone through a £2.5m refurbishment. The wharf has the capacity to dock and store up to 7,500 tonnes of bitumen.

The refurbished facility and jetty will also provide the capacity for FM Conway to import and store a variety of other construction materials.

CEO Michael Conway said: “With global bitumen refinery capacity decreasing, there is a trend for less bitumen to be available. This new collaboration with ExxonMobil allows us to secure a long-term supply of bitumen, giving us full control over our supply and allowing us to cut input costs and, crucially, give security of supply to clients and partners.”

Source -The Construction

August 26, 2014

10 Billion Bitumen Refinery

Stockwell Day has joined the leadership team of a Vancouver company that's planning to build a $10-billion oilsands refinery on the West Coast.

The former politician, who has held high-profile cabinet posts in the federal and Alberta governments, has been hired as a special adviser at Pacific Future Energy Corp. and will sit on its board of directors. He'll also head an arms length advisory council that's expected to be formed over the next few months.

"I've been very gratified that I've been involved in a number of projects since leaving politics, but this has to be right up there in terms of something that's exciting for me," Day said in an interview from Vancouver.
He said the proposed refinery, which bills itself as the world's greenest, could be a "legacy project for Canada."

Oilsands producers have been keen to access lucrative Asian markets, but stiff opposition to proposals such as Enbridge Inc.'s (TSX:ENB) Northern Gateway pipeline has put a damper on those ambitions. One of the biggest environmental concerns has been the prospect of bitumen-laden tankers navigating coastal waters.
The Pacific Future proposal -- along with others being floated by B.C. newspaper magnate David Black and aboriginal businessman Calvin Helin -- would mean refined products, rather than heavy oil, would be shipped on tankers to Asia, making a potential spill less damaging.

Day's political experience spans the two provinces with the most at stake when it comes to West Coast energy exports. After his time in Alberta's Progressive Conservative government, Day was the MP for the British Columbia riding of Okanagan-Coquihalla, first for the now-defunct Canadian Alliance and then for the Conservatives.

He also has insight into the thinking of potential buyers of Canadian resources on the other side of the Pacific, having served as the federal trade minister and minister for the Asia-Pacific gateway.
The Pacific Future proposal would mean "high-tech, long-term jobs" for Canada, said Day, who left government in 2011.

"We're talking about refining product here rather than shipping what really is raw product to other countries and seeing the jobs produced there."
The environmental aspect is also key, said Day.

"I've talked with enough people all over British Columbia to realize that this is a genuine concern and a real impediment in the minds of many people."

Day said he's confident there will be interest in the project from both sides of the Pacific.

"What I've seen over the last few years in Asia... they've got a sincere desire to deal with their own environmental issues and even for them, there are some political advantages for them to be seen as receiving refined product," he said.

And there's interest from Alberta, too, he added.
"I can honestly say I've never ceased talking with people from Alberta -- investors and CEOs -- since the days I was in Alberta about the challenges of a unique product, but a product that in my view needs to be refined and needs to be refined here," he said.

"Of course, you have to make the economic case as well as the environmental case and this project does that."

Day said he hasn't talked to his former colleagues in Ottawa about Pacific Future, but "I have to think this would align with many of the aspirations of the federal government vis-a-vis Canadian trade and Canadian jobs."

The Pacific Future leadership team includes venture capitalists and former provincial and federal government advisers. Its executive chairman, Samer Salameh, has experience financing and building telecommunications infrastructure for Mexican conglomerate Groupo Salinas.

Pacific Future has also made First Nations engagement a priority. One of Salameh's first hires for the management team was Jeffrey Copenace, who was deputy chief of staff to former Assembly of First Nations chief Shawn Atleo and has worked with the Ontario and federal government on aboriginal issues.
Pacific Future says the refinery will be built in 200,000-barrel-per-day modules, with the ability to expand to a total of one million barrels per day.

It aims to pick a location later this year for the plant and begin the regulatory process next year

Read more:

August 14, 2014

Bitumen Production to ramp up

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has assured the marketers and distributors of bitumen as well as members of the public that the days of bitumen importation will soon be over.

In a statement signed by NNPC spokesperson, Ohi Alegbe, this is as a result of the current plan to gear up the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company (KPRC) for optimum production of the product to save the nation the huge foreign exchange spent on the importation of the product.

The Management of the Corporation, in a reaction to a story attributed to the Association of Bitumen Marketers and Distributors published in some national dailies recently, disclosed that plans are currently on to repair the “Riser” at the heavy crude oil reception facility at Escravos.

This will guarantee the importation of heavy crude for the production of bitumen at the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company (KRPC), which is the only refinery configured to produce bitumen in the country.
The Management further stated that in the meantime, KRPC has about 5,005 metric tons of bitumen (also known as asphalt) for evacuation, and that a further 14,466 metric tons will be produced between now and September from available residue.

It explained that the KRPC has the capacity to produce 1,796 metric tons of asphalt per day or 592,680 metric tons per year of two major liquid and solid oxidized grades of bitumen while the current national demand is put at about 500,000 metric tons per year.
It noted that as soon as the “Riser” is repaired and the supply of heavy crude oil is guaranteed, there will be no need for further importation of bitumen.

Source- Businessday

Fire at Bitumen Factory

Fire Breaks Out in Bitumen Factory near Tehran
A vast fire incident occurred in a bitumen factory in a town just a few miles away from the capital Tehran on Tuesday morning.
The fire broke out in a bitumen factory near the town of Vavan at 6:07 am in an area of 3,000 square meters. A sum of five reservoirs with a capacity of 50,000 liters each caught fire in the incident.

Fire brigades have been dispatched from Tehran to Vavan to help control and extinguish the massive fire there. The cause of the fire incident is still under investigation.

In another fire incident yesterday, a vast fire incident occurred in Tehran's Bazaar, killing two people.
"Massive fire which broke out in Tehran's Bazaar today killed 2 businessmen and the people who were hanging out of windows were rescued by using hydraulic ladder," Tehran Fire Brigade Department Spokesman Seyed Jalal Maleki told FNA on Monday.

He noted that two men aged 50 and 60, who were trapped in the upper stories of buildings in Tehran's Bazaar, were killed.

Maleki said that 10 shopkeepers also faced respiratory problems.
The fire broke out in a four-storey building in Southern Tehran at 10:53 this morning.

Source- Farsnews

July 23, 2014

Bitumen Update from Nigeria

Nigeria loses over N300 billion annually to massive importation of bitumen into the country, the Association of Bitumen Marketers and Distribution of Nigeria (ABIMD) has said.

This amount, the union said, could be used for other meaningful projects if the government had stopped importation of the product and encouraged its local production available at the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company (KRPC).

Bitumen is a by-product of petroleum used for road construction and maintenance.
At a news conference in Kaduna on Tuesday, the National Vice Chairman of the association, Fred Nyabam, described the massive importation of bitumen into the country as a serious threat to the economic development of the nation.

He raised alarm over the activities of some few individuals who he described as ‘selfish individuals’ and ‘economic saboteurs,’ who he said had truncated all efforts made in the past to stop importation of bitumen into Nigeria and encourage local production.

“The brazen act of sabotage against the Nation is that over 60 per cent of all the Bitumen imported into Nigeria comes from a refinery in IRAN, whose Bitumen production capacity is not bigger than that of Kaduna Refinery,” he stated.

He, however, called for the intervention of the Federal Government to protect Nigerian bitumen products by reducing the cost of locally produced ones and stopping the importation in order to enhance local product.

Source- Nigerian Tribune

June 25, 2014

Greenest Refinery for Processing Bitumen & More Jobs

Despite last week's approval from the Canadian government, uncertainty still dogs Enbridge Inc.'s Northern Gateway oil sands pipeline largely because of a vow from key aboriginal communities to block it.
Others in the oil industry are trying hard to avoid the mistakes Enbridge made when it comes to approaching Canada's powerful First Nations about projects that could contaminate their lands and waterways.
Pacific Future Energy Corp.'s recent refinery proposal is the latest example.

Earlier this month, the company unveiled plans for a $10 billion refinery in British Columbia that would convert Alberta's tar sands bitumen into gasoline, diesel and jet fuel for export to Asia and other markets. Pacific Future Energy pledged to form a "full partnership" with affected First Nations, provide permanent jobs and build the "greenest refinery in the world."

Enbridge's struggle to win acceptance for the Northern Gateway project "is a lesson in terms of how not to engage with First Nations," said Jeffrey Copenace, vice president of indigenous partnership for Pacific Future Energy. "The First Nations have been viewed as an impediment to business, historically in this country, both by governments and industry, and we feel that’s wrong."

Two other companies, Kitimat Clean Ltd. and Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings, have announced bitumen refining projects and taken steps to curry favor with British Columbia's indigenous groups. They have also promised jobs and less environmental risk compared to Northern Gateway's export plan.

"They're all trying to build themselves on the backs of how bad Northern Gateway has done things, and they figure if they are a little bit better that somehow people are going to fall all over themselves," said Art Sterritt, executive director of Coastal First Nations, a coalition opposed to the Northern Gateway project. "They're all doing exactly the same thing. They're saying pick me, pick me, pick me. The reality is nobody's picking anybody."

The $7 billion Northern Gateway pipeline, which was approved by the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper on June 16, would transport diluted bitumen (dilbit) from Alberta to a proposed marine terminal on the northern coast of British Columbia. There, the dilbit would be loaded onto tankers and shipped to overseas markets.

That last part of the plan—carrying dilbit out to sea through fragile areas vital to First Nations' marine economy—became particularly controversial after an Enbridge pipeline leaked a million gallons of dilbit into a Michigan river. The 2010 incident alarmed British Columbians because emergency crews couldn't contain the spill and Enbridge has yet to fully cleanse the river of sunken globules of bitumen.

Backers of all three of the refinery projects have touted their proposals as environmentally less risky because they eliminate the need for tankers full of dilbit by converting it to fuel or light crude oil before exporting it. Pacific Future Energy would be filling export tankers with refined fuels, and those liquids would evaporate if spilled into the ocean, according to Samer Salameh, the company's executive chairman. Because of that, Salameh told Huffpost Alberta, the company's proposed refinery "is a solution to everybody's problem."
"We cannot risk the future of British Columbia’s cherished coast by shipping raw bitumen," Salameh said in Pacific Future Energy's June 10 announcement. Salameh believes it's in Canada's national interest to get Alberta's oil riches into international markets, but he said "it shouldn't be done at the sacrifice of B.C.'s coast or broader environment, and must be done in full partnership with First Nations."

Sterritt isn't convinced. Pacific Future Energy would still need to feed its coastal refinery with dilbit, which means it will eventually need a pipeline such as the Northern Gateway to deliver the heavy crude from Alberta.

"The one thing that most of these people seem to forget is that it's not just about the coast, it's also about transporting bitumen through the headwaters of the Fraser and the Mackenzie and the Skeena [rivers], and there are no guarantees of being able to avoid a spill there," Sterritt said.

Environmentalists concerned about climate change aren't likely to applaud the refinery plans, either, because they don't halt or reduce the carbon pollution that stems from extracting the tar sands oil, processing it and then burning the fuel derived from it.

"From a climate point of view, these refineries don't really make a lot of soon as more of that oil starts to get shipped [from Alberta], we have increased emissions," said Josha MacNab, director of British Columbia for the Pembina Institute, an environmental think tank based in Calgary. Switching from dilbit tankers to fuel-laden tankers isn’t a big improvement, she added, "Because any spill of any kind of fossil fuel is going to have a very damaging impact on our environment, and our ability to clean those up is questionable."

But the companies behind the refining proposals are optimistic. They believe they've found a way to boost support and quell environmental opposition to exporting Canada’s oil riches through British Columbia.
Their plans stress three factors that they say will differentiate the refinery projects from the Northern Gateway pipeline and export project. Those include:

+ A better relationship with First Nations. As Pacific Future Energy's Copenace put it, "I've heard of previous negotiations where companies go in with, 'this is your stake, and this is your percentage, these are your jobs, this is our route, and that’s how we’re going to do it—so sign here. That’s unacceptable in this day and age." Copenace has First Nations roots and served as deputy chief of staff to former Assembly of First Nations chief Shawn Atleo.

Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings, which announced a multifaceted export plan with a refinery in April 2014, is led by Calvin Helin, an author, businessman and First Nations leader in British Columbia. Partners include the B.C.-based Aquilini Group and David Tuccaro, a well-known Alberta aboriginal entrepreneur and oil sands investor.

+ More jobs. Pacific Future Energy said initial employment at its refinery would be in the hundreds, but that the payroll would grow to 3,000 jobs once it's expanded to its target capacity. Kitimat Clean’s project, which is backed by B.C. businessman and newspaper owner David Black, includes a $21 billion refinery, plus an oil pipeline, gas pipeline and tanker fleet. It said it would create 3,000 jobs at the refinery alone.
+ More palatable environmental characteristics. Pacific Future Energy said its refinery would capture carbon emissions and employ technologies to make the plant have near-zero net carbon emissions. Kitimat has touted its refinery as "engineered to be the cleanest upgrading and refining site in the world."

Eagle Spirit Energy's plan attempts to lessen the environmental threat of a dilbit spill by converting the bitumen into light crude oil before sending it to the coast for export.

Pacific Future Energy and Kitimat will still need to transport dilbit from Alberta to their respective refineries, but last year, B.C. Premier Christy Clark applauded that approach. Exporting dilbit-derived fuel would require smaller tankers filled with liquid that evaporates when spilled, a concept that "radically reduces the environmental risks associated with the shipping of oil off our coast to Asia," she said.

By Elizabeth Douglass, InsideClimate News
 Source- FirstPerspective

June 23, 2014

No Bitumen Road for Serengetti

The East African Court of Justice yesterday delivered a long awaited ruling on the case brought against the Tanzanian government by ANAW and others, seeking to restrain them permanently from building a highway across the Serengeti migration routes of the great herds of wildebeest and zebras.

The judges in their ruling said that the construction of a bitumen road across the UNESCO World Heritage Site national park is ‘unlawful’. Celebrations broke out in court and elsewhere across Eastern Africa and the rest of the world when the essence of the ruling became known, though seen at the bright light of day does the judgment have a downside.

The judged only ruled on the illegality of a bitumen or tarmac road but left the question open about the construction of a gravel road along the same route, something the Tanzanian government had said they were considering. ‘They can still try to build a murram road because that has not been specifically ruled out.
If they start, we shall sue them again and seek an injunction against that also. But primarily now we must lobby for the government to accept that the Southern route around the Serengeti will bring greater benefits for a larger number of people and the route is only slightly longer. Germany’s KFW, or so I heard, is doing a feasibility study now for the new route after the Tanzanian government has accepted the proposal and the World Bank and Germany have both offered to finance the highway as long as it routes around the southern tip of the park and not go across it.

Knowing our government however we must remain vigilant. Today was a victory of sorts but the battle for survival of the Serengeti continues. This is not over by a long shot’ wrote a regular Arusha based conservation source when relaying the court decision yesterday afternoon.

The news about the highway plans were broken here in early 2010 and then triggered a growing support movement which via social media and other avenues rallied support from the world’s leading conservationists, show biz personalities, business moguls and many governments and international organizations making their opposition known to these plans in both direct and indirect contact with Tanzania’s President Kikwete and members of his government.

 By Prof. Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Africa Correspondent 
Source- eturbonews

June 11, 2014

Bitumen Refinery

A Vancouver-based company with international backing is planning to build a $10 billion bitumen refinery project near Prince Rupert.

Pacific Future Energy says the new refinery will be “the world’s greenest” and will be built in full partnership with First Nations.

The company has already identified three sites, all in the Prince Rupert area, as potential locations for the refinery, which will process oil from northern Alberta. A feasibility study, which is currently underway, will determine the exact location of the refinery.

“We believe this is an incredibly unique opportunity to build the greenest refinery in the world and there’s no better place than BC,” said Samer Salameh, Executive Chairman of Pacific Future Energy in a statement. “Our pre-feasibility study has begun, which will analyze the economic, social and environmental aspects of the refinery and help to determine the prospective site and expect to launch our feasibility and regulatory process in the next 9-12 months.”

Shipping refined products as opposed to heavy oil will be much safer, according to Salameh.
“By shipping refined products, we will eliminate the threat of a heavy oil spill.”

In case of a spill, these products float on top of water and evaporate, according to Pacific Future Energy. Bitumen sinks in water, and is much harder to clean up.

The refinery is designed to be built in stages, with each “module” processing 200,000 barrels of bitumen per day. The bitumen will be converted into gasoline, diesel, and kerosene.

Once the project is fully up and running, it will be capable of producing up to 1 million barrels a day.
Pacific Future Energy says the project is viable regardless of the current market price of oil, because of its ability to produce a wide range of fuels.

The federal government’s decision on the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline is expected sometime this week.

Source - Globalnews

June 9, 2014

Bitumen to Batteries

Chinese bitumen producer Luxiang has proposed a new plan for its transformation, moving away from its bitumen business and foraying into new energy after its lithium mine reported further delays, Guangzhou's Money Week magazine reports.

Trading for Luxiang's shares listed in Shenzhen have been suspended since April 1 due to the ongoing restructuring of its assets. The company expects trading to resume before July 8, according to the latest statement released on May 7.

Luxiang came under the spotlight again after electric carmaker BYD announced a plan to issue new shares to fund the expansion of lithium-ion battery production, because of the association of the two companies, the magazine said.

Lu Xiangyang, Luxiang's second-largest shareholder, is a cousin of BYD chairman Wang Chuanfu, and Luxiang holds the rights to a top quality spodumene mine in Sichuan province, the magazine said.
Luxiang shares were bolstered by such connections following the company's acquisition of the mine in 2009, but the company has been hit by delays because of the local government's stalled efforts to expropriate land around the mine for expansion.

A Luxiang official handling investor relations recently told the magazine that the company is not working with BYD on any project, since the two are operating on two ends of the industry and Luxiang currently does not produce batteries, components for batteries or lithium salts.

An analyst also told the magazine that Luxiang is unlikely to see a positive impact from government incentives for development of new energy vehicles, which was behind the recent share price surge of companies expected to benefit from the policy.

On the other hand, Luxiang has made a series of announcements regarding its restructuring plan, including the acquisition of Dongguan Tec-Rich Engineering and a 51% stake in a natural gas company in Yulin in Shaanxi province.

Tec-Rich is a producer of equipment and lithium batteries, which will allow Luxiang to tap into the sector downstream, while natural gas fits the company's goal to move into the new energy business, according to Luxiang chairman Ke Rongqing.

The more surprising announcement was the company's sale of its bitumen subsidiary, which was made on May 12.

The sale marked Luxiang's exit from its 16-year-long core business of bitumen, which might lead to a difficult situation of losing an income source, while its mine has yet to generate revenue, the magazine said.
Whether investors would buy into Luxiang's latest restructuring plan after trading for its shares resumes remains uncertain, the magazine said.

Source -Want China Times

May 15, 2014

Transporting Diluted Bitumen Via Sea May be risky

Transporting Bitumen Issue- The alternative view from Mr. David Black reproduced for your views.

In a letter (“Transport systen can handle diluted bitumen” May 14, 2104) Greg Stringham, on behalf of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, makes assertions about the behavior of diluted bitumen (dilbit) in salt water that are at best half-truths.

He states dilbit floats on salt water and that it is no more dangerous at sea than other types of oil. That is wrong. It is more dangerous at sea, and infinitely more so than refined fuels like diesel and gasoline.

What Stringham doesn’t mention is the same report from Environment Canada that he quotes from, goes on to say that dilbit sinks in seawater when there is sediment present. Another study by a top U.S. environmental chemist, Jeff Short, says the same thing. It was filed by the Gitxaala Nation to the National Energy Board in March 2013, so Stringham is well aware of it. That study says animal and plant matter like plankton, as well as sediment, cause the dilbit to sink.

Our entire coast has sediment and plankton in abundance. All our rivers are glacial and full of silt. Plankton is omnipresent, which is why the whales are here, and shallow seas like Hecate Strait throw up huge amounts of sediment from the bottom in storms.

Dilbit will sink in our waters if there is a spill and it will harden up like caulking material on beaches and the intertidal zone. The intertidal zone includes large mud flats in the mid-coast because the tidal range is more than 20 feet there. How would we ever get them clean again?

Stringham also says our Canadian oil industry is interested in the Kitimat refinery idea. That is news to me. I have talked to all the companies and there is no interest whatsoever. That is why I am spearheading the project.  It will keep dilbit out of tankers and provide an enormous value-add for B.C.

Canada’s oil industry needs a west coast pipeline. Coastal First Nations, the Yinka Dene First Nations, Prince Rupert, Kitimat, Terrace, Smithers, the provincial and federal NDP, the federal Liberals, the provincial and federal Green Party, many blue collar unions and the majority of folks in B.C. are against Northern Gateway’s idea of putting dilbit in tankers.

A refinery is economically viable. Why is it so hard for our oil industry to see that the way forward is to build a green refinery which will cut greenhouse gases by 50 per cent, create thousands of jobs, generate billions of new annual taxes, and gain acceptance for a safe pipeline?

David Black
Kitimat Clean, Black Press
Source -Sooke News

May 8, 2014

Transporting Bitumen is similar to Crude Oil

Continued safe marine and pipeline transport of hydrocarbons is in everybody’s interest so Canadians can realize value for resources and oil producers can continue to deliver jobs and economic benefits. No one wants a spill of any product at any time.

The performance track record over the past 50 years is good, but even still, work is ongoing to improve prevention and ensure producers, transportation companies and spill-responders have the best information available to manage products safely and make the best plans possible for response, containment and clean-up in the event of an incident.

Black's articles incorrectly suggested the Canadian oil industry is not interested in the proposed refinery project and that transporting diluted bitumen is more risky than transporting other types of oil because of its chemical properties.

Fact is, oil producers are seeking increased access to existing and new markets – in Canada, the United States and internationally – to satisfy market demand for increasing Canadian oil production. All options to achieve that goal are worthy of study.

And diluted bitumen – oil sands bitumen diluted with natural gas liquids that allow it to flow – is no more dangerous than other types of crude oil.

Chemically, there’s nothing about diluted bitumen the transportation system cannot be prepared to manage. Whether it moves by pipelines or tankers, diluted bitumen meets all the same specifications and behaves the same as other crude oils.

Oil floats on water if it has an API gravity above water’s 10 degree API gravity. Diluted bitumen has an API gravity of 20-22 degrees. Any type of oil spilled in water, eventually “weathers” and can be driven below the surface by waves or currents. Diluted bitumen behaves the same way.

There have been several scientific studies completed on diluted bitumen. Earlier this year, the federal government released a research study that demonstrated diluted bitumen floats on salt water – even after evaporation and exposure to light.

The study was commissioned by Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Natural Resources Canada as part of the government’s plan to implement a world-class prevention, preparedness and response regime for marine transportation. Results of the study will be used to inform spill responders and help guide more research.

Our industry is focused on responsible development of Canada’s resources. We welcome transparency on our safety and environmental performance, based on sound science.
As producers, we transport oil with care and attention at all times. We expect all transportation providers to deliver safe services in a responsible manner.

Greg Stringham
Vice President, Markets and Oil Sands / Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

April 30, 2014

Montreal - A cheaper Option

Suncor might process Alberta bitumen in Montreal


CALGARY — A project that would enable Suncor Energy Inc.'s Montreal refinery to process thick, tarry oilsands bitumen from Alberta could get the green light later this year or early in 2015, CEO Steve Williams said Tuesday. 

The Montreal coker project is just one way Suncor is looking to cut crude costs at the refinery, which has long relied on pricey overseas imports. 

"I expect to have on my desk by the end of this year the proposal for the coker project, so we'll be in a much clearer position toward the end of this year, maybe beginning of next year, to decide whether we go ahead," Williams told analysts on a conference call to discuss Suncor's first-quarter results. 

Suncor is not disclosing the estimated price tag of the coker project, but Williams says it will cost much less to be built in Montreal than in the cost-inflation prone northern Alberta market.As well, much of the required equipment is already in Suncor's hands, as an earlier iteration of the project was shelved years ago. 

In the meantime, Suncor has been able to supply the 137,000 barrel-per-day facility with cheaper inland crude using rail and ship. 

During the first quarter, about 20,000 barrels per day of Western crude made its way to Montreal by rail, with the expectation of hitting an average north of 30,000 barrels per day for 2014. 

Suncor figures its rail strategy saved it $20 million during the quarter, since the Montreal refinery had access to cheaper inland crude, rather than having to rely on costlier imports.Some seaborne cargoes loaded with cost-effective U.S. crudes have also made their way to Montreal — an option Suncor uses on an "opportunistic" basis, Williams said. 

By this time next year, Suncor says its Montreal refinery should be able to get 100 per cent of its crude from within North America — once Enbridge Inc.'s Line 9 pipeline between southwestern Ontario and Montreal has been reversed and expanded. That project won regulatory approval in March. 

"We're delighted with the news around the Line 9 reversal and anticipate that line being reversed plus or minus a few months on the end of this year. We're just working through the specific schedules on it now."
The improved market access was one of the reasons behind Suncor's record and better-than expected first-quarter results, announced late Monday. 

April 28, 2014

Nepal's Infrastructure - Roads


Nepal’s mountain road
Major road expansion is planned for Nepal, but will face huge challenges due to the country’s geography - Mike Woof reports, with local information from World Highways' Nepal correspondent, Ram Krishna Wagle

The tiny, landlocked nation of Nepal lies sandwiched between two of the world’s largest countries, China and India and maintains good relations with both. Politically Nepal has strong links with China, while culturally its ties are close with India and these relationships work both ways. Despite being tiny in comparison, Nepal is an important trading partner for China and India and provides a vital transport connection across the continent for these much larger nations. Although Nepal’s recent political history has been tumultuous, with a series of changes in governments, the leaders of all the major parties have agreed upon the need for better transportation. And road transportation has been widely recognised as being crucial to the country’s development.

While Nepal is not strong economically, it is benefiting directly from its good relations with China and India in regard to infrastructure investment. And in spite of the changes of leadership in Nepal, these relations with China and India have been maintained. This is crucial as both of its giant neighbours have been providing economic assistance as well as technical expertise, input that is sorely needed. In addition Nepal also benefits from foreign aid provided by the EU, Japan, the Scandinavian nations, Switzerland, the UK and the US.

However Nepal’s geography poses a significant barrier for the country’s aim to improve transport. The Himalayan range lies in the north of the country, including eight of the world’s 10 highest mountains, and these present huge physical obstacles. In the southern lowland plains of the country, rivers descending from the mountains change course frequently, presenting another challenge. Meanwhile Nepal’s Hill Region includes altitudes ranging from 800-4,000m, itself providing difficulties for road builders. As a result of the technical issues resulting from the country’s geography as well as a shortage of construction machinery, building roads between cities, towns and villages in Nepal can be an expensive and almost painfully slow process.

Nepal’s roads
1: Weather conditions can require extreme caution on Nepal's roads 
2: The Mungling Bridge is an important link for the Prithvi Highway 
3: Widening work is underway on the Kathmandu Ringroad 
4: Some remote river crossings in Nepal are very weather dependent 
5: Road crossings from Nepal to neighbouring China are at high altitudes and conditions on some routes are basic 
Nepal’s road network is growing but there is an enormous need for more investment. A study in 2007 revealed that the country had 10,142km in all of surfaced roads and a further 7,140km of unsurfaced roads. Nepal has 75 District Headquarters and up to 15 have no direct connection by road, while 33% of the population live at least two hours walk from a road, presenting a major challenge to economic growth as well as for other factors such as education or health.

Because Nepal is landlocked, it relies on its transport links with China and India for trade and the nearest port is in Kolkata (Calcutta). But there is only one dependable road link between the Kathmandu Valley and India at present and the development of a new route will bring enormous economic benefits.

One issue that has affected a good deal of Nepal’s existing road infrastructure comes from the weather. Water flow rates can be enormous due to run-off from mountain glaciers, becoming worse still during the monsoon season due to intense bursts of heavy rainfall. Of the existing roads (surfaced and unsurfaced), up to 60% become unusable during the monsoon season and that includes most of the rural road connections.

Nepal’s geography means that bridges are crucial as the hilly and mountainous areas feature many deep gorges and rivers that have to be crossed. But these bridges suffer intense wear, both from the climate and from frequent vehicle overloading. Seasonal rainfall can subject bridges to enormous stresses, with many structures being damaged due to scour.

In a bid to improve the country’s bridges, Nepal’s Ministry for Physical Infrastructure and Transport inaugurated a programme of upgrades and maintenance work, with funding provided by the World Bank. Grant assistance of US$148 million was provided by the World Bank for work on 26 new structures and 98 bridges requiring major maintenance. The programme also extended to 230 bridges requiring minor maintenance work and a further 95 needing light maintenance.  “Connecting people with the road network can only develop a nation’s economy growth and prosperity,” commented Karla Gonzalez Carvajal, Sector Manager, Transport, South Asia Region, of the World Bank.

Of perhaps great priority still is the need to improve Nepal’s connections with its neighbours and the government has been pushing ahead with work on a series of major trade routes. The aim is to boost trade with neighbouring India and China and the programme will see four key trade routes being widened to six lanes, with three in either direction. These four routes are: Butwal-Belhiya; Rani-Ithari; Surybinayak-Dhulikhel; Birgunj-Pathalaiya highway sections. Meanwhile work is being carried out on a 15.4km stretch of the Suryabinayak- Dhulikhel road thanks to a loan from the Japanese Government. The work on the 28km stretch of the Birgunj-Pathlayia route is being carried out under the BOOT model. When the work is complete on these roads, journey times to India and China will be reduced, which will help to give the country’s economy a significant and much needed boost, and its agricultural industry will find new markets in these neighbouring nations.
58km KKHT link
The 58km KKHT link passes through challenging topography for road construction
Since Nepal embarked on its road construction programme, the Ministry of Physical Planning works and Transport Management said that the country has so far built 25,115km of roads, of which 11,565km is dirt road, 6,077km is gravel road and 7,474km is asphalt paved road. Statistics from the Ministry of Physical Planning, Works and Transport Management showed that 1,180km of new roads were constructed in Nepal in the 2011-2012 fiscal year alone. The statistics revealed that of the 1,180km of roads (short of the 1,280km target), 290km were surfaced with asphalt and 407km were gravel roads, while there were also 47 new bridges built in the period.

Arguably the most significant project underway in Nepal at present is for the 58km highway connecting Kathmandu with Kulekhani and Hetauda and which includes the construction of three new road tunnel sections. The Kathmandu - Kulekhani - Hetauda route is being carried out as a build-operate-transfer (BOT) project, the first tolled highway in Nepal being built under this model since the necessary legislation was drafted. The Kathmandu - Kulekhani - Hetauda Tunnel (KKHT) Highway is being designed with two lanes in either direction as well as a median strip. It will be operated under a 30-year concession signed with the Nepal Government, with an option to extend the deal by a further five years.

The three, four-lane tunnels, measure 3,425m, 735m and 392m in length and total 4.5km. The longest stretch of tunnel is being built from Kulekhani to Bhimfedi, with the 735m tunnel being constructed at Bhainse and the 392m tunnel being driven at Chobar. The project developer is Nepal Purbadhar Bikash (NPBCL) while the prime consultant for the project is the Full Bright Consultancy. NPBCL says it is the first public limited company in Nepal that has been established to build a national toll highway to Asian Highway Standards.

The highway is expected to cost some $375 million and will reduce the journey time between Hetauda in Makawanpur and Balkhu in Kathmandu from six to eight hours at present, to just one hour. Once the new route is open in December 2016, it is also expected to improve traffic safety as the existing routes feature a number of dangerous stretches. The highway will provide a much shorter route out of the Kathmandu Valley and its construction will provide better transport links between the west of the country to the south and east. This key transport route is expected to make a significant boost to economic development along the corridor in particular, and in Nepal as a whole in general. The existing 227km route from Hetauda-Narayanghat-Mugling-Kathmandu carries the heaviest traffic of any route in the country, providing an important trade route to India. One alternative route is the 133km Tribhuvan Highway, but this is not suited to high speed transport and the journey takes seven to eight hours. While there are other shorter routes these are in poor condition and are not suited to high speed transport.

The Nepalese Government is working on plans to build a series of highways that will improve north-south connectivity. The new Karnali road will link Khulalu, Simikot and Hilsa and will be 286km long. The first phase of the Kaligandaki highway will link Gaindakot, Mirmi, Balubang and Phalebas in Parbat and will be 283km long, while its second phase will link Kusma, Phalebas, Setibeni and Mirmi and will be 98km long. The Koshi Corridor highway will pass through Basantapur in Terathum to Kimanthanka and will measure 195km long. In all, the planned roads measure some 1,350km long but the various routes present major engineering challenges due to Nepal’s altitude and complex geological conditions.

Nepal has established a new framework to help boost the efficiency of its transportation plans and investments. Key road sections in the Kathmandu valley will be widened, Putalisadak-Kamalpokhari, Kamalpokhari-Ratopul, Lainchour-Sorhakhute, Maitighar-Banewshwore, Naghpokhari-Balaju bypass, Naxal-Narayanchour, Dillibazzar-Baluwatar-Maharajgunj.

Another key project for the country is the Kathmandu-Nijgadh-Pathlaiya Terai/Madesh Expressway project, also being built under the PPP model. The 76km expressway is expected to cost $853 million to construct and it will feature 84 bridges, of which 22 will have spans of 30-50m and seven will span 115m. The road will be tolled, with the concaession running until 2035. 
 But a major problem for Kathmandu in general is that the current road infrastructure in the city is not sufficient for the increasing numbers of vehicles. In a bid to tackle the problem, the authorities initiated a programme of road widening to reduce traffic jams, especially during peak hours. The Chinese Government has provided Nepal with expertise and funding for the ring road development around capital Kathmandu. The programme is for the widening of 27km of the ring road from its present four lanes to eight lanes in all. The road is being upgraded in three separate phases, with the first stage being the 9km Kalanki-Koteshowre section and the building of a new interchange.

The growth in vehicle numbers has been significant. In 1992 there were just 48,188 registered vehicles in the Kathmandu Valley and the total length of the road network in the area was 1,595km. There are now 567,670 registered in the Kathmandu Valley. And it is worth noting that this figure does not include other vehicles registered elsewhere in the country travelling through the valley, or vehicles entering the country from neighbouring China or India. According to Nepal’s Metropolitan Traffic Division, there are now around 800,000 vehicles in the valley overall.

Kathmandu city
Kathmandu is a busy city with increasingly high traffic volumes – image courtesy of Ram Krishna Wagle
Nepal road
Aviation is well developed in Nepal but the country's air safety record is not optimal
Agriculture accounts for 35% of Nepal’s GDP and this sector also employs around 75% of the country’s workforce. Transporting goods to market is crucial for economic development, particularly with regard to trade with China and India. Improved road links will cut transport times and costs and boost the economic benefits of trade with the neighbouring countries for Nepal’s producers.

Air travel is well-developed and Nepal has 47 airports, 11 of which have proper surfaced runways. However Nepal’s air safety record is not good due to many of the airports being located at high altitudes where weather conditions can be subject to rapid change. The country has airport facilities noted to be amongst the highest and most challenging for pilots, while aircraft condition is not always optimal and crashes are not infrequent.

Kamalpokhari Gyaneshwor road
Road Improvement under Kathmandu Valley Road Improvement Project, Kamalpokhari Gyaneshwor road section

The Nepalese Government has carried out a comprehensive survey of road transportation. This has been the first time in the country’s history that such a survey has been undertaken, with Nepal’s Central Bureau of Statistics gathering data to help government fiscal planning, public transportation and also help in education and research.

Nepal's Ministry of Physical Planning and Works, Nepal has carried out extensive traffic improvement studies for the Kathmandu valley, with assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Nepal's Department of Roads is using traffic data based on research work into congestion carried out by consultants.

Being small, landlocked and mountainous, poverty is a major issue in Nepal. But despite its small economy, Nepal’s progress on reducing poverty has been highly effective and continues. However unemployment levels remain high and many citizens currently leave the country to find employment elsewhere around the world. Australia, Canada, India, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and the UK are amongst the key countries where Nepalese move to find work. Nepalese soldiers are highly regarded for their bravery and in a curious historical anomaly, also fight for both the British and Indian armies in special Gurkha battalions. This is also of key economic importance, contributing nearly 23% of Nepal’s GDP.

Nepal has to import fuel for power generation and transportation from China and India as the country does not have any deposits of gas or coal of its own. Despite the fact that Nepal’s hilly and mountainous areas feature many fast flowing rivers, hydroelectricity accounts for only 40% of the country’s power generation at present. The country has around 20 hydroelectric plants (as well as some smaller facilities) at the moment, generating some 600MW. A further nine hydroelectric plants are being built, with 27 having been identified for future development. But some estimates suggest that the country has the potential to produce a total of 44,000MW from 66 sites in all. This is a key issue as Nepal has a shortage of electrical power at present, particularly in rural areas. Only 40% of Nepal’s population overall have access to electricity and the vast majority of those properties connected to the grid are in the major urban areas. The electricity supply is also unreliable at present with long power cuts common, particularly in wintertime when demand is highest, while costs to consumers are high and the system is also said to be highly inefficient.

The construction of two particular bridges is improving access to remote areas, as well as to an important power generation facility. The Arun River Bridge at Leguwaghat in Dhankuta, and the Sabha Khola Bridge in Sankhuwasabha District are of major significance. The Arun River Bridge provides a key link to access a network of 162km of roads, while the Sabha Khola Bridge connects with Sankhuwasabha District and is also important for the Arun III hydroelectric project.

UK consultant IMC Worldwide carried out the engineering design report and suggested that the most appropriate bridge layouts would be single 120m-span through-truss decks with 6m wide carriageways, and featuring a 1m raised footpath on one side. The bridges have semi-circular, steel trusses, with in-situ reinforced concrete deck slabs on reinforced concrete cantilever abutments and wing walls. The structures have a design life of 100 years, with the Sabha Khola Bridge built on rock and well foundations up to 16m deep for the Arun Bridge at Leguwa. The foundations have been protected against scour to maximise longevity.

Source- World Highways