Showing posts with label bitumen 60 70. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bitumen 60 70. Show all posts

July 20, 2018

Over Priced Road Contracts

THE transport ministry rejected a plan by the Roads Authority to extend three road contracts valued at N$1,6 billion to three companies without publicly advertising the tenders.
Currently, there are three highways under construction – the Swakopmund to Walvis Bay, the Windhoek to Hosea Kutako and the Windhoek to Okahandja.

The Swakopmund to Walvis Bay highway is being constructed by Chinese-owned company Unik Construction Engineering Namibia and its Namibian partner, Thohi Construction for N$958 million.

The N$1 billion contract for the contruction of a section of the Windhoek to Okahandja highway was awarded to the Italian construction company CMC and their Namibian partner Otesa Civil Engineering, while another N$1 billion contract for the Windhoek to Hosea Kutako highway went to the China Railway Seventh Group and Onamagongwa Trading Enterprise.

Two of the highways – Windhoek to Hosea Kutako and Windhoek to Okahandja – are supposed to be completed by January 2019, while the Swakopmund to Walvis Bay highway should be done by June next year.

Works and Transport permanent secretary Willem Goeiemann asked the RA last year to present a strategy on how the parastatal plans to implement the three projects to meet deadlines.

RA chief executive Conrad Lutombi wrote to Goeie­mann on 2 February 2018, recommending that the three companies which are currently constructing the highways should be given extensions to work on the next kilometres, which would rule out advertising the tenders.

According to the Roads Authority (RA), the Windhoek to Hosea Kutako International Airport road would be extended by three kilometres at a cost of N$150 million, while the Swakopmund to Walvis Bay road will increase by eight kilometres for N$435 million. The Windhoek to Okahandja road would be extended by 21 kilometres for a whopping N$1 billion.

The RA stated that the three road extensions would cost a combined N$1,6 billion, and that allowing continuity would save the government N$147 million.

The savings, according to the parastatal, include the fact that the companies would not need to set up a new construction camp. The camp consists of workers' accommodation.


Works deputy minister Sankwasa James Sankwasa, however, rejected this proposal to extend the roads, and blasted the RA for accepting inflated tenders.

Sankwasa rejected the proposal in two letters he wrote to works minister John Mutorwa and Goeiemann on 27 February and 2 May 2018.

“I am not in a position to agree with the recommendations to award the extensions of construction work to the existing tenderers,” he said, suggesting that the RA should instead go for a public tender, supervised by the ministry of works.

“Should any tenderer not quote within the confines or rates of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, the government should reject such tender,” he emphasised.

According to him, Namibian road projects, compared to other southern African countries, are expensive.

The deputy minister said he researched Namibian road construction costs compared to other countries, mainly Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

“I discovered that nearly all SADC countries construct roads of bitumen (tar) standards at approximately N$5 million to N$8 million per kilometre, depending on the topography of the area where the road is being constructed,” he said.

The deputy minister further said that about 10 years ago, Namibia was constructing roads at an average cost below N$5 million per kilometre.

“This seems to have changed overnight, to where Namibia is constructing at the cost of N$12 to N$15 million per kilometre,” he added.

The three roads are priority projects under the Harambee Prosperity Plan, President Hage Geingob's signature development plan, which has promised better roads up to 2020.

“Does government have to undertake overpriced projects because they are Harambee projects?” the deputy minister asked.

“The sudden escalation in the costs of road construction and all other construction works in Namibia requires an urgent investigation, and the halting of such overpricing practices”, he stressed.

For instance, Sankwasa said the Swakopmund to Walvis Bay road was overpriced by around N$60 million, compared to the initial cost government budgeted for.

The deputy minister said he objected to the awarding of the Swakopmund to Walvis Bay road tender in April 2016 when he indeed recommended its cancellation and re-advertisement.

“I clearly stated that this tender was riddled with corruption, and should be cancelled and be re-advertised. But such recommendation was brushed aside, and the tender was eventually awarded to the third most expensive tenderer, Unik, instead of the cheapest and the best tenderer, as evaluated by the consulting engineer,” he added.

Sankwasa told The Namibian this week that he planned to intervene in the current tenders as they were overpriced, and he wanted the permanent secretary to correct the matter.

“As permanent secretary, I expect him [Goeiemann] to act in the public interest of the country and a duty to protect state resources,” he reiterated.

Sankwasa suggested that if the material is too expensive, then why not get material from another source that's cheaper.

“It just boils down to corruption,” he charged.


RA chief executive Lutombi told The Namibian yesterday that they are aware of Sankwasa's concerns, but denied that they committed the government to overpriced roads contracts.

“All the tenders that were awarded, of all current projects, went through a competitive advertised tender process. Hence, all the tenders were awarded regarding the price and technical expertise in line with the Roads Authority's procurement process,” he said.

Lutombi further stated that they responded to Sankwasa's letter with a detailed report on the cost of the dual-carriage freeways versus single carriageways.

The ministry of works then submitted their proposal to the Central Procurement Board (CPB) for scrutiny, and for the board to indicate whether it was done legally.

“We are still waiting for a response from the CPB,” he said.

Lutombi added that the risks of going for underpriced contracts include poor quality, and the project not being completed on time.

The RA advertised in newspapers last week for a consultant to carry out a study on road construction prices.

The three highways have a controversial past.

The Namibian reported in 2016 that the RA and the ministry of works committed the government to contracts of more than N$2 billion without following procedures, and claiming that they were made a priority by “the highest offices”.

The N$2 billion will have to be paid over two years, but the finance ministry, already under pressure from massive cash shortages, was forced to find N$800 million to pay road construction companies.
Source - Namibian


June 29, 2017

£165m roads project facing legal challenge

A long-awaited £165m roads project for Belfast is now facing a legal challenge, it has emerged.

Around eight years after it was first announced, cash was finally earmarked for the York Street Interchange development as part of the DUP's £1bn deal with the Tories.

But now, a legal challenge, which has been confirmed by the Department for Infrastructure, over the awarding of the main construction contract, could delay the scheme further.

DUP Tory deal new £1bn allocation breakdown - where will the money go in Northern Ireland?

The Department has said that “the tender process to appoint a contractor to bring the scheme to a construction ready stage has now been completed... however, tender award cannot occur at present due to a legal challenge. The legal process is ongoing.”

The interchange is intended to solve the Belfast's increasing traffic problems.

It aimed to transform traffic flow where the Westlink, M2 and M3 converge.

The bulk of the cash needed to build it, around 40%, was originally due to come from the EU.

The upgrade of the York Street Interchange aims to tackle the traffic gridlock which occurs daily.

As Northern Ireland's busiest junction, it carries 100,000 vehicles daily, mostly commuters to and from Belfast from around Co Antrim.

It was revealed this week that part of a £1bn fiscal package for Northern Ireland as part of the DUP deal with the Conservatives, will include £400m for infrastructure. And as part of that, money will be freed up for the York Street Interchange.

At the end of last year, former Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard accepted a recommendation from a public inquiry that the York Street Interchange scheme should progress in principle but reiterated warnings that Brexit had placed a question mark over funding.

Speaking about the project, Wesley Johnston, an expert on Northern Ireland's roads, has said that commuters can still expect delays at the York Street interchange even after work has been completed.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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

March 6, 2014

High Pressure Steaming to Clear the Spill

CNRL wants to start high-pressure steaming near active spill site
Canadian Natural Resources, Ltd. provides media access to spills at its Primrose site near the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range in northeast Alberta. August 8, 2013.
Canadian Natural Resources, Ltd. provides media access to spills at its Primrose site near the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range in northeast Alberta. August 8, 2013.
Vassy Kapelos, Global News
The company whose northern Alberta spills have been oozing bitumen for 10 months nonstop has asked the province to let it start high-pressure steam operations less than a kilometre away from one of the spill areas.

More than a million litres of bitumen have spilled so far from Canadian Natural Resources, Ltd.’s Primrose sites – but it’s hard to tell because that’s lower than what the company said had spilled several months ago. (CNRL says that’s due to “reconciliation” in its numbers; the Alberta Energy Regulator doesn’t collect its own figures)

Either way, that makes this one of Alberta’s top five bitumen spills in 40 years (one other of which was also on CNRL’s Primrose site). And the leaks show no sign of stopping.

Canadian Natural applied last month for permission to start high-pressure steam operations at a Primrose South site. The closest well is about 500 metres away from the one-kilometre exclusion zone the province set up last summer around one of the spill sites.

This would be the same kind of high-pressure cyclical steam stimulation CNRL used where these spills occurred: Inject extremely high-pressure steam into a vertical hole in rock; then suck all the heated bitumen out as the high pressure forces it up through the same hole in the rock.

CNRL says it knows what started the leaks in the first place: It blames old wellbores deep within the rock that should have been capped with cement but allowed bitumen to escape.

“We are confident as to the cause and the step we can take to prevent it happening again,” spokesperson Zoe Addington said in an email.

Others aren’t so sure.
“It’s kind of strange to me they’re sort of approving steaming in the absence of knowing officially what went wrong,” said Keith Stewart, climate and energy campaign coordinator with Greenpeace Canada.
“If they start injecting here it could reheat and cause the other one to keep spilling or it could, depending what’s cracked, it could widen cracks more. It certainly won’t make things better.”

Regulator spokesperson Bob Curran said they’re reviewing the application and there’s no set timeline for how long that will take. “As a general policy,” he said in an email, “we do not discuss specifics of applications that are under review.”

But “if CNRL hasn’t proven they can ensure it won’t happen again and if the regulator doesn’t know it won’t happen again, it should be considered a high-risk application,” said Pembina Institute analyst Erin Flanagan.
When the spills were just a few months old, CNRL said there was no way to stop the seeping bitumen until the pressure pushing it up from underground subsided. It appears it still hasn’t, although it remains unclear how much has actually spilled: In September, CNRL said about 1.2 million litres of bitumen had spilled; this week, it said about 1.77 million, chalking the discrepancy up to reconciled numbers.

The company also said the amount spilling now is almost “imperceptible” – about 1,000 litres a month from all spill sites.

Kevin Timoney doesn’t buy it: The Treeline Ecological Research investigator published a detailed report into these spills, figuring that, if previous volume reports were accurate, the real amount of bitumen spilled so far is probably closer to 2 million litres.

“Both AER and CRNL fail to provide accurate, complete, and timely information to the public,” Timoney’s report reads. “Without independent oversight of reported hydrocarbon release and recovery volumes, the public may never know the true volumes spilled or recovered.”

The spills are expected to come up in CNRL’s conference call with investors following its fourth-quarter earnings announcement Thursday.

CNRL’s application to start high-pressure steaming says it has done a risk assessment on all wellbores within a kilometre of the proposed site, and plans to implement “an enhanced monitoring and reporting protocol” within that area.

Others aren’t so sure wellbores are the answer: The Alberta Energy Regulator would say only that it “continues to make progress is its investigation, and will release its findings once the investigation is complete.”

Environmentalists point out it seems statistically unusual for several wellbores in different locations to suddenly fail at once, and strange for one failed wellbore to cause spills surfacing several kilometers apart.
They say it could be that the steam’s just too high pressure – it’s cracking the caprock, creating fissures in the stone where bitumen can escape.

If that’s the case, it could mean trouble – not just for CNRL’s operations at Primrose, but for anyone extracting bitumen by injecting high-pressure steam into the ground. And the number of in situ operations doing that is slated to grow. What happens if it turns out companies don’t know as much about doing that safely as they thought they did?

The regulator’s investigation into a similar CNRL spill in 2009 suggested problems with rock and pressure, but was ultimately inconclusive as to what caused the large spill.

It’s possible the broader implications of such a finding could be holding the regulator back from suggesting the problem lies in the extraction method itself.

“It would be a very brave bureaucrat in Alberta who said, ‘We have a problem with in situ technology’ because it is the future of tar sands development,” Stewart said. “This is why I think they need to make their reviews public and they need to be reviewed by independent experts.”

With a report from Leslie Young

Source- Globalnews

December 24, 2013

Kazakhstan Launches Bitumen Plant

Kazakhstan has commissioned a new plant for production of road bitumen at Aktau Plastics Plant (Aktau bitumen plant) that was constructed by a group of companies KazMunaiGas.

The company reported that Governor of Mangistau region Alik Aidarbayev, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary ambassador of China Le Yucheng, representatives of the Ministry of Oil and Gas of Kazakhstan and KazMunaiGas JSC, the management of CITIC Group company, Caspi Bitum JV LLP and other partner companies participated at the event.

"Our plant can almost completely cover the needs of the country in bitumen. This is a joint project of the KazMunaiGas National Company and the Chinese company CITIC Group," Chairman of the Kazakhstan Petrochemical Industries JSC Dauletkerey Ergaliev said.

The plant will produce about 400,000 tons of oxidized and 120,000 tons of modified road bitumen, as well as 15,000 tons of gasoline fraction and 230,000 tons of kerosene and diesel fraction, 220,000 tons of vacuum gas oil.

To avoid the loss of quality of bitumen while transporting it to the asphalt paving place, Aktau bitumen plant provides innovative technology for packing bitumen into a disposable shipping container of two types - Big Bag (1000 kilograms) and plastic bags (40 kilograms).

The use of packed cold bitumen will not only keep the original physicochemical characteristics of the material, but also get savings in asphalt plants by reducing the costs of keeping the molten bitumen in large bitumen storages.
Source- AZERNews

December 5, 2013

Bitumen Production with Low Carbon Footprint

A partnership that plans to build an oilsands refinery northeast of Edmonton says the cost of the project has risen $8.5 billion.

North West Redwater Partnership also said in a news release Wednesday that the startup date for its bitumen upgrader has been pushed back to September 2017 from mid-2016.

When the project was approved in November 2012, the cost was estimated at $5.7 billion.
The partnership, made up of North West Upgrading Inc. and Canadian Natural Upgrading Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Canadian Natural Resources Limited (TSX:CNQ), said the higher cost is "due to a combination of cost inflation and the inability to fully capture certain cost savings initiatives."

It also says that it believes the merits of the project are still positive.

The refinery is expected to 50,000 barrels per day of raw bitumen supplied by Canadian Natural and the Alberta Petroleum and Marketing Commission.

"The toll payers believe, that upon successful completion of the project, this refinery will strengthen their organizations through providing a competitive return on investment and by adding 50,000 barrels per day of bitumen conversion capacity in Alberta which will help improve pricing and reduce pricing volatility on all Western Canadian heavy crude oil that they produce or are entitled to market through royalties," the press release said.

"This project will provide a local market for Alberta oilsands production that is not reliant on export pipelines, and a low carbon solution that will ensure that the CO2 footprint of the products produced by the refinery will be among the lowest in the world."

Source -BrandonSun

October 24, 2013

Bitumen Contamination

Alberta Environment says bitumen leaking on CNRL's Cold Lake lease has entered aquifers and the company must take immediate steps to minimize its migration into subsurface water and soil.

Sticky bitumen, which has oozed to the surface for more than six months, "has entered local non-saline groundwater aquifers, likely contaminating the groundwater," says the 15-page enforcement order issued by Alberta Environment late Monday.

The enforcement order gives the companbitumen moving up through fissures in the rock to the surface.
y permission to drill more wells this winter to test groundwater at the four leak sites and attempt to stop the flow of

To stop the flow, CNRL will try to identify the exact pathway the bitumen takes to the surface from deep underground, said CNRL spokeswoman Zoe Addington.

Source- Climatenews

October 2, 2012

Concrete or Asphalt - Besides the Economy

One of the questions you’ll hear drivers and crew chiefs asked a lot this weekend at Dover is how the concrete track affects the racing.  Here’s how:
 Concrete and asphalt are father and son.  They have in common what you and would call it “rocks”, but professionals call it “aggregate”.  Aggregate comes in a huge variety of types, depending on the materials from which the rocks are made, the quality of the material, the size of the rocks and the distribution of sizes of the rocks.

  Asphalt vs. Concrete

Concrete is an technically any mixture of rocks aggregate stuck together with a binder.  The type of binder determines the properties of the concrete and even the color.

Concrete is the oldest engineered construction material, dating back to the Roman Empire.   The reason only parts of the Roman Colosseum and the Pantheon are missing have more to do with humans than the failure of the materials.  Today’s concrete is more than ten times stronger than the version the Romans developed.
The most common binder in the concrete used in roads, parking lots and sidewalks is Portland cement.  Portland cement (and its close relatives) are mixtures of  limestone and clay, which are crushed to a powder and heated to over 2700 degrees Fahrenheit.  This is the form you buy it in.  To use is, you reconstitute the dry powder with water, and the individual grains form calcium-silicate-hydrate (C-S-H) bonds that make a very strong glue.

Asphalt is a type of concrete, that uses bitumen — tarry black stuff — to hold it all together.   A typical composition for asphalt is 80% aggregate, 15% binder and 5% air voids.  Bitumen comes from the heaviest components of crude oil, and has the consistency of molasses (which is why it has to be heated before being used).   Because bitumen derives from oil, the price of asphalt changes with the price of oil.

But Which is Better?

As with most “which is better”, the answer depends on what you what to use it for.  The primary difference between asphalt and concrete is the rigidity of the two materials and how they distribute the load over the base on which they are laid.   The more rigid the pavement, the more the load is distributed over the surface when something like a car move over it.

Asphalt, which is more flexible (relative to concrete), transmits higher, more concentrated loads to the base, as shown below.  I’ve drawn the stress distributions in red.  The concrete spreads out the stress over a larger area, while the asphalt transmits stress to a narrows area.  The narrower area and the same load means that the stress is more concentrated.

Because concrete is stronger, asphalt has to be thicker to get the same rigidity.  Asphalt does have an advantage, however, in that its flexibility allows it to expand and contract with temperature changes with less cracking.  Even so, concrete lasts 10-15 years longer than asphalt.

Asphalt is the traditional material for paved racing surfaces.  Only three Sprint Cup tracks feature concrete:  Dover, Martinsville and Bristol.  They have in common that they are all tracks of one mile or less with significant banking.  (OK – you may not view the 12 degree banking at Martinsville as ‘significant’, but those 12 degrees are the reason the corners are concrete while the rest of the track is asphalt.  The stress on the pavement in the corners necessitated replacing the original asphalt with concrete.)

Dover is one mile with 24-degree banking and Bristol is a little more than a half mile with 24-28 degree banking.  The steep banking and the tight curves make keeping asphalt in good racing condition a challenge.  Having concrete also gives a track a unique character – as well as the opportunity to have a really cool monster statue outside.

How Concrete Changes Racing

 Grip Level
The grip level can be very different between asphalt and concrete, depending on a lot of factors.   Concrete is inherently more grainy, and its surface can be patterned to create more grip.  Drivers talk about bumps in asphalt as being large and wavy, while bumps in concrete they describe as  more vibrational.  Concrete usually has to be laid down in sections, which means you can have those bumps like you find between slabs on a sidewalk.  The picture at left shows the Google Earth view of Dover’s surface and you can see the individual slabs.

The grip on an asphalt  track depends  on the type of aggregate used, the degree of wear and the character of the bitumen.

For example, Atlanta has a very rough surface because its bitumen wears faster than the aggregate, as I’ve shown at right.   When an asphalt track is first laid down, the surface is very level.  As the bitumen wears away, the tops of the uppermost layer of aggregate are exposed.  The sharp edges of the aggregate are worn down by the tires rubbing against the rocks, but the aggregate sticking out provides a lot of grip.  Eventually, enough bitumen wears away that the aggregate starts coming out, which weakens how well the track holds together and necessitates a re-pave.

Concrete doesn’t wear as fast as asphalt and thus the grip level doesn’t change as much over long periods of time.

Light and Heat

Would you believe that the color of the track makes a big difference in how the track races?
Light comes in a range of wavelengths from smaller than billionths of a meter to larger than billions of meters long.  Our eyes detect a very, very small fraction of that electromagnetic radiation in the nanometer (billionth of a meter) range.  From red to violet, the wavelength ranges from about 800 nanometers to 400 nanometers.  The light from the Sun contains a wide range of wavelengths, including ultraviolet light (UV) (which is smaller wavelength than visibile light), all the colors of the rainbow, and lots of infrared  (IR) radiation.

Our eyes don’t detect the UV or IR light – we see the mixture of all the different colors of light together, which makes white.  Artificial light (like fluorescent) generates a different mixture of wavelengths, which is why it looks different than sunlight.

You see the colors of objects because all materials absorb some wavelengths (colors) of light and reflect others.  When light hits a red object, as I’ve shown at left, all colors except red are absorbed and what comes to your eyes is just the red light.

White surfaces reflect a wide spectrum of wavelengths and absorb very little of the spectrum.  The light that is incident on a white surface is reflected back to our eyes and the broad spectrum of wavelengths we see as ‘white’.  Black is the opposite:  black absorbs a lot of different wavelengths, so very little reflects back to our eyes and we get black.

In addition to the visible light, the spectrum from the sun includes the aforementioned ultraviolet  and infrared waves.  Infrared radiation has longer wavelengths than red light.  We don’t see it – we sense it as heat.  You’ll notice that the lamps they use to keep food warm always have a red glow:  they output some visible light, but they mostly output heat .  You will never see food being kept warm by blue light.
How is all this relevant to a racecar?

Put a piece of black paper and a piece of white paper in the Sun and feel their surfaces after a few hours.   The black paper absorbs a lot of the radiation from the Sun and gets very warm.  The white paper doesn’t absorb as much of the Sun’s energy (although it does absorb some), so it stays relatively cooler.  If you measure the temperature of a track over the course of a race, it can change by tens of degrees depending on the weather.

One effect of the changing temperature is how hot the tires get.  If the track is 60 degrees vs. 120 degrees Fahrenheit, that generates a very noticeable level of change in the grip.  But even more importantly, bitumen (the binder in asphalt) is a petroleum product.  As the temperature rises, oils in the bitumen get warmer and make the track more slippery.   Portland cement is crushed-up rocks which (when dry) are not slippery at all.

The end result is that, a concrete track doesn’t change over the course of a race nearly as much as an asphalt track.  Crew chiefs say that the track at Dover is easier to ‘keep up with’ because changes in temperature over the course of the race don’t change the racing surface as much with concrete as they do with asphalt tracks.

The Nature of Friction

There are two types of friction .  The first, called abrasive friction, is the one you learned about in school.  This is the type of friction between sandpaper on a wood block.  The second kind (which I never know about until I wrote The Physics of NASCAR) is adhesive friction, which is the molecular-level stickiness of the track combining with the molecular-level stickiness of the tires.  The heat generated by the tires makes the topmost layer of the track gooey.  The outermost layer of the tire also becomes gooey, resulting in an effect very much like chewing gum stuck on your shoe on a hot sidewalk.  The gooeyness of the track  bonds with the gooeyness of the tires for microseconds and resists forward motion.  That’s grip.
The nature of adhesive friction on asphalt is very different than on concrete because the two materials are so very different.  Concrete has much less adhesive friction.  This doesn’t change the grip level so much (because the abrasive frictions are different) – however, it does make a big difference in what happens when you lose grip. Think about sticking a weight to a piece of wood with gum.  The asphalt surface would be really sticky gum and the concrete surface would be dried up, not-very-sticky gum.  If you turn the wood so that the surface is vertical, the stickier gum is going to hold better.
In terms of a racecar, Mark Martin pointed out:
“… when you lose grip on a concrete surface, you feel like you just got cut loose from a rope. It’s amazing. It’s like losing half of your grip, rather than about 20 or 30 percent that you lose on asphalt.”
All the drivers’ intuitions that are developed on asphalt – which comprise the vast majority of NASCAR tracks – are thus challenged when they drive on concrete.

So there you have it – not necessarily better or worse, just different.


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May 30, 2012

Bitumen Export and Greenhouse Gas Regulation

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

 by Aaron Wherry

May 12, 2012

Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage Bitumen Production

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soruce - Marketwire 

April 25, 2012

Bitumen Production

Bitumen Production of various refineries around the World.

Source - Nationmaster

Rank   Countries  Amount  Date  
# 1     United States: 30,815,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 2     Soviet Union: 16,100,000 ton  1991 Time series
# 3     China: 9,229,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 4     Japan: 5,395,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 5     Russia: 4,986,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 6     Canada: 4,620,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 7     Iran: 3,786,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 8     Germany: 3,601,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 9     India: 3,576,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 10     Spain: 2,900,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 11     Korea, South: 2,482,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 12     Malaysia: 2,124,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 13     Singapore: 1,975,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 14     Saudi Arabia: 1,930,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 15     United Kingdom: 1,912,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 16     Turkey: 1,761,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 17     Venezuela: 1,689,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 18     Brazil: 1,420,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 19     Taiwan: 1,375,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 20     Poland: 1,139,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 21     Thailand: 1,093,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 22     Belgium: 1,076,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 23     Netherlands Antilles: 1,044,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 24     Mexico: 953,000 ton  1990 Time series
# 25     Czechoslovakia: 910,000 ton  1991 Time series
# 26     Egypt: 905,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 27     Sweden: 837,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 28     South Africa: 802,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 29     East Germany: 730,000 ton  1990 Time series
# 30     Argentina: 666,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 31     Czech Republic: 536,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 32     Chile: 500,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 33     Iraq: 491,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 34     Hungary: 477,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 35     Austria: 466,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 36     Ukraine: 451,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 37     Belarus: 443,000 ton  2005 Time series
= 38     Indonesia: 430,000 ton  2005 Time series
= 38     Australia: 430,000 ton  2005 Time series
= 40     Bahrain: 410,000 ton  2005 Time series
= 40     Greece: 410,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 42     Netherlands: 408,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 43     Syria: 400,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 44     Portugal: 386,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 45     Finland: 311,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 46     Pakistan: 296,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 47     Colombia: 276,000 ton  1994 Time series
# 48     Algeria: 254,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 49     Kuwait: 214,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 50     Côte d'Ivoire: 200,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 51     Morocco: 198,000 ton  2005 Time series
= 52     Croatia: 181,000 ton  2005 Time series
= 52     Bulgaria: 181,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 54     Libya: 169,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 55     Lithuania: 163,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 56     Romania: 157,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 57     Israel: 138,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 58     Azerbaijan: 128,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 59     New Zealand: 117,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 60     Jordan: 114,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 61     Yemen: 113,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 62     Kazakhstan: 109,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 63     Peru: 107,000 ton  2001 Time series
# 64     Uzbekistan: 104,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 65     Ecuador: 102,000 ton  1995 Time series
# 66     Yugoslavia: 91,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 67     Albania: 87,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 68     Sri Lanka: 52,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 69     Slovakia: 49,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 70     Cuba: 43,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 71     Philippines: 33,000 ton  2003 Time series
# 72     Trinidad and Tobago: 27,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 73     Nicaragua: 21,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 74     El Salvador: 20,000 ton  1995 Time series
# 75     Nigeria: 19,000 ton  2005 Time series
= 76     Gabon: 15,000 ton  2005 Time series
= 76     Kenya: 15,000 ton  2005 Time series
# 78     Costa Rica: 13,000 ton  2005 Time series
= 79     Panama: 10,000 ton  1995 Time series
= 79     Uruguay: 10,000 ton  2005 Time series
= 81     Jamaica: 9,000 ton  2005 Time series
= 81     Cyprus: 9,000 ton  2004 Time series
= 83     Georgia: 8,000 ton  2005 Time series
= 83     Norway: 8,000 ton  1994 Time series
# 85     Angola: 7,000 ton  2005 Time series
= 86     Denmark: 5,000 ton  2003 Time series
= 86     Zambia: 5,000 ton  2005 Time series
= 86     Barbados: 5,000 ton  1997 Time series
= 86     Cameroon: 5,000 ton  2005 Time series
= 90     Ethiopia: 2,000 ton  1999 Time series
= 90     Bolivia: 2,000 ton  2005 Time series
Total: 122,271,000 ton  
Weighted average: 1,343,637.4 ton