Showing posts with label bitumen exporter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bitumen exporter. Show all posts

September 23, 2015

Process and Save OilSands

Plans For Bitumen Refinery Ramp Up

Keynote speaker Frank McKenna at Bitumen Conference in Sarnia May, 2013Keynote speaker Frank McKenna at Bitumen Conference in Sarnia May, 2013
The Chairman of the Sarnia-based Bowman Centre is convinced that in 2016, possibly sooner, a commercial partner will be announced for the ambitious $10-billion SABER project.
The Sarnia-Lambton Advanced Bitumen Energy Refinery would process heavy crude from the Alberta Oil Sands and has been described as a potential game-changer for the economy.
The Bowman Centre, located at the Western Research Park, says 30 local organizations have recently committed over $100,000 to take the project to a new level.
Clem Bowman says a commerical proponent is needed to update marketing, logistics and margin analysis reflecting current crude oil prices.
He says with Prime Minister Harper’s indication of support in principle, they can proceed with or without the support of the provincial government.
Audio Player
A group of former Chemical Valley executives launched the project saying Canada is losing $2.5-billion a year by exporting, rather than processing oil sands bitumen at home.
They say there is an existing pipeline from Alberta to Sarnia, access to international markets and serviced industrial land available.
There is also a commitment to build a leading edge plant in terms of energy and greenhouse gas efficiency.
(With files from Josh Boyce)

September 2, 2015

Looking for Bitumen Tanker Vessels.. Grab One Here

NewLead Holdings Ltd. (OTC: NEWL) ("NewLead" or the "Company") announced today a review of the commercial performance of one of its bitumen tanker vessels, the MT Nepheli ("Nepheli") since the vessel was delivered to NewLead's fleet.
The Nepheli is a 2009-built bitumen tanker vessel of 3,416 dwt and is one of the five bitumen tanker vessels that were delivered to NewLead's fleet in the fourth quarter of 2014.
When NewLead took delivery of the Nepheli in November 2014, the vessel was already chartered-out on a time charter agreement for one year at a net rate of US $6,700 per day. The time charter contract was concluded at the end of July 2015 and from delivery of the vessel to NewLead until such time, 82,473.76 tons of asphalt were transported. Following the conclusion in July 2015, NewLead entered into a new time charter contract, in direct continuation of the prior contract, for a one year period at a gross rate of US $7,400per day less 3.75% commission payable to third parties. The Nepheli will be principally trading in the Middle East area.
Upon delivery of the Nepheli to NewLead in November 2014, the Company invested in the maintenance, improvement and upgrade of the vessel's condition. The vessel's improved technical condition allowed for an increase of approximately 5% in the vessel's cargo in-take capacity and a decrease in the fuel consumption for steaming and cargo heating, as well as an improvement of the speed and consumption of the vessel.
Mr. Michael Zolotas, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NewLead, stated, "NewLead's investment in the improvement of the condition of the Nepheli enhanced the commercial performance and tradability of the vessel. Together with the oil major vettings, the Nepheli has been attracting reputable charterers' attention. Our decision to invest in the technical improvement of the vessel upon her delivery to NewLead is expected to enhance the cash flow of NewLead."
Mr. Zolotas added, "The enhanced performance of the Nepheli in the time charter contract upon the delivery of the vessel to NewLead resulted in the renewal of the charter party agreement with improved terms. We will continue to capitalize on the commercial and technical expertise of NewLead which are fundamental in the bitumen market while aiming to expand the Company's fleet with modern bitumen vessels. "
NewLead has approximately 50% and 74.75% of its operating days covered for 2015 and 20% and 16.27% of its operating days covered for 2016 for its dry bulk and tanker vessels, respectively.
Fleet UpdateThe following table details NewLead's fleet as of August 31, 2015:
Vessel Name
Size (dwts)
Vessel Type
Year Built
Charter Expiration Date
Dry Bulk Carriers

Newlead Castellano
Eco-type Handysize
Q4 2015
Newlead Albion
Eco-type Handysize
Q3 2015
Newlead Venetico
Eco-type Handysize
Q3 2015
Newlead Victoria
min Q2 - max Q3 2018
Newlead Markela
Q2 2016
Tanker Vessels

  Newlead Granadino
min Q1 2016 - max Q3 2017
  Katerina L
Q4 2015
Q3 2016
min Q1 2016 - max Q1 2020
Oil Tanker
1. Third party vessel under management   
About NewLead Holdings Ltd.
NewLead Holdings Ltd. is an international vertically integrated shipping, logistics and commodity company providing ideal solutions for seaborne transportation of dry bulk commodities and petroleum products through owned and managed vessels. NewLead controls a fleet of ten vessels, including five dry bulk and five tanker vessels and manages one third party tanker vessel. NewLead is a Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") reporting Foreign Private Issuer in compliance with applicable SEC rules and regulations and current in its SEC reporting, utilizing U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles' financial reporting standards. NewLead's common shares are traded under the symbol "NEWL" on the Over-the-Counter market.
Source - PR Newswire

September 1, 2015

Recycled Toners Put to Good and Final Use - Guess What .. Replacing Bitumen

Asphalt is Getting New Life from Recycled Printer Ink

Did you know that the ink in your printer is considered one of the most expensive liquids in the world? If you were to fill up your standard 15 gallon gas tank with printer ink, it would cost you almost $75,000. Ouch.
Once your printer runs out of ink, consumers (hopefully) recycle the cartridges, which leaves millions of them forgotten in landfills. Inside those cartridges, it’s estimated that there is still 13% of unused ink just sitting there goring to waste.
Enter the asphalt industry, king of recycling, to make good use of those old cartridges. This time, it's an Australian company, Downer Group, who has been working to re-purpose this leftover toner powder for use in asphalt mixes.

How it Works

The material inside your toner cartridges is actually a small plastic powder material that is melted down when printed on to paper. When the waste toner is recycled, its low melting point makes it an effective glue in asphalt. This can reduce the use of oil-based bitumen.
TonerPave is the result and it's made by adding MTP (Modified Toner Polymer) to standard asphalt. The toner is blended with recycled oil and is 40% more energy efficient than the manufacturing of standard bitumen, with a relative saving of 270kg of CO2 emissions per ton.
Every ton of the toner-based product used in the asphalt mix replaces 600kg of bitumen and 400kg of fine aggregates, such as sand and soil. Almost 100 toner cartridges are needed to make 1 ton of asphalt.

TonerPave Put to the Test

“We have these toner cartridges and the challenge is to do something with them,” says Peter Tamblyn, marketing manager at Close the Loop. “This is the only commercially viable waste toner solution on the planet, it’s a good thing.”
Currently, the product, called TonerPave is being extracted from cartridges in Melbourne and then transferred to Sydney where it’s being blended and placed as tests on roadways.
The City of Sydney’s construction services manager, Andrew Christie, said the product must prove as resilient as regular asphalt and have the same 30-year lifespan. “In two or three years we should have an indication if it is a good alternative to traditional asphalt. Hopefully we can start to use it across Australia,” he said.
At $150 per ton, the mix costs the same as standard asphalt, but Christie expects this to drop as the product matures. Raw materials represent a small portion of road resurfacing costs, he said, which is mainly taken up by machinery and staffing.
However, this is the first time TonerPave has been combined with warm mix asphalt, which has been in use in Sydney since 2010. Warm mix asphalt is heated at temperatures lower than regular asphalt and saves the city 24,000kg of CO2 emissions each year.
Christie says 30% of this new mix is also comprised of recycled asphalt, significantly higher than the industry requirement of at least 10%.
The measure is part of the City of Sydney’s target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 70% by 2030. It was the first local council in Australia to be certified carbon neutral under the National Carbon Offset Standard.
All of Australia’s waste toner powder could theoretically one day be used in asphalt mix, Tamblyn said, but many people throw their toner out rather than recycle it.
“If we could get our hands on all of Australia’s waste toner we would happily use it,” he said.
Tamblyn says “the rest of the world is looking at this” as the company begins investigating importing toner waste from overseas markets.

August 22, 2015

Peanut Butter Bitumen

How It's Different from Conventional Oil

Bitumen extracted from tar sands has the consistency of peanut butter and must be diluted to flow through pipelines. And that's just the beginning.

A handful of Canadian oil sands/Source: Suncor
When emergency responders rushed to Marshall, Mich. on July 26, 2010, they found that the Kalamazoo River had been blackened by more than one million gallons of oil. They didn't discover until more than a week later that the ruptured pipeline had been carrying diluted bitumen, also known as dilbit, from Canada's tar sands region. Cleaning it up would challenge them in ways they had never imagined. Instead of taking a couple of months, as they originally expected, nearly two years later the job still isn't complete.

Dilbit is harder to remove from waterways than the typical light crude oil—often called conventional crude—that has historically been used as an energy source.

While most conventional oils float on water, much of the dilbit sank beneath the surface. Submerged oil is significantly harder to clean up than floating oil: A large amount of oil remains in the riverbed near Marshall, and the cleanup is expected to continue through the end of 2012.

InsideClimate News spent seven months investigating what made the Marshall spill different from conventional oil spills. Part of the challenge was that there has been little scientific research on dilbit; most of the studies that have been done were conducted by industry and considered proprietary information.

The information we did find comes from government records and publicly available industry studies, plus dozens of interviews with industry analysts, federal and state officials, and several university researchers who've worked with the oil industry. We also interviewed watchdog groups that have focused on increasing dilbit regulations, including the Pipeline Safety Trust, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Pembina Institute, a well-respected Canadian think tank that supports sustainable energy.

Experts at the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary, where tar sands research has been done, did not return requests for comment. InsideClimate asked the American Petroleum Institute and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers to put us in contact with their experts, but neither organization provided scientists or engineers for interviews.

What is dilbit?

Dilbit stands for diluted bitumen.
Bitumen is a kind of crude oil found in natural oil sands deposits—it's the heaviest crude oil used today. The oil sands, also known as tar sands, contain a mixture of sand, water and oily bitumen. The tar sands region of Alberta, Canada is the third largest petroleum reserve in the world.

What makes bitumen different from regular or conventional oil?

Conventional crude oil is a liquid that can be pumped from underground deposits. It is then shipped by pipeline to refineries where it's processed into gasoline, diesel and other fuels.

Bitumen is too thick to be pumped from the ground or through pipelines. Instead, the heavy tar-like substance must be mined or extracted by injecting steam into the ground. The extracted bitumen has the consistency of peanut butter and requires extra processing before it can be delivered to a refinery.
There are two ways to process the bitumen.

Some tar sands producers use on-site upgrading facilities to turn the bitumen into synthetic crude, which is similar to conventional crude oil. Other producers dilute the bitumen using either conventional light crude or a cocktail of natural gas liquids.

The resulting diluted bitumen, or dilbit, has the consistency of conventional crude and can be pumped through pipelines.

What chemicals are added to dilute the bitumen?

The exact composition of these chemicals, collectively called diluents, is considered a trade secret. The diluents vary depending on the particular type of dilbit being produced. The mixture often includes benzene, a known human carcinogen.

If dilbit has the consistency of regular crude, why did it sink during the Marshall spill?
The dilbit that spilled in Marshall was composed of 70 percent bitumen and 30 percent diluents. Although the dilbit initially floated on water after pipeline 6B split open, it soon began separating into its different components.

Most of the diluents evaporated into the atmosphere, leaving behind the heavy bitumen, which sank under water.
According to documents released by the National Transportation Safety Board—a federal agency that is investigating the spill—it took nine days for most of the diluents to evaporate or dissolve into the water.

Can conventional crude oil also sink in water?

Yes, but to a much smaller extent.

Every type of crude oil is made up of hundreds of different chemicals, ranging from light, volatile compounds that easily evaporate to heavy compounds that will sink.
The vast majority of the chemicals found in conventional oil are in the middle of the pack—light enough to float but too heavy to gas off into the atmosphere.
Dilbit has very few of these mid-range compounds: instead, the chemicals tend to be either very light (the diluents) or very heavy (the bitumen).
Because bitumen makes up 50 to 70 percent of the composition of dilbit, at least 50 percent of the compounds in dilbit are likely to sink in water, compared with less than 10 percent for most conventional crude oils.

How do you know whether a particular type of crude oil will sink or float?

The industry classifies different crude oils as light, medium or heavy, based on their densities. There is debate over the cutoffs for these categories, but bitumen falls into the "extra heavy" category because it is more dense than water. The diluted bitumen that spilled from 6B was lighter than water and considered heavy crude oil.

But density alone doesn't determine whether a particular type of crude oil will sink or float, said Nancy Kinner, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of New Hampshire who studies submerged oil. Weather and other conditions can change the buoyancy of crude oils: for example, crudes that are lighter than water can sink if they mix with sediment.

That's exactly what happened with the bitumen from 6B. In general, the density of bitumen ranges from slightly heavier than water to barely lighter than water. The bitumen that spilled in Marshall was at the lighter end of the scale. Marc Huot, a technical and policy analyst at the Pembina Institute's Oilsands Program, said the bitumen's density was so close to that of water that it was in "a gray area. It may or may not float depending on [conditions]…think of a log—it floats, but not very well."

But as the bitumen mixed with grains of sand and other particles in the river, the weight of the sediment pulled the bitumen underwater.

Why has it been so hard to clean up submerged oil in the Kalamazoo?

Existing cleanup procedures and equipment are designed to capture floating oil. Because the Marshall accident was the first major spill of dilbit in U.S. waters, cleanup experts at the scene were unprepared for the challenge of submerged oil.

The EPA has supervised the cleanup of nearly 8,400 spills since 1970, but in multiple interviews with InsideClimate News, agency officials said the Marshall spill cleanup was unlike anything they'd ever faced.
"[It's] not something a lot of people have dealt with," said Kinner. "When you can't see [the oil], you don't know where it is, so it's very hard to clean it up."

Once cleanup crews locate submerged oil, it's hard to remove it without destroying the riverbed. Cleanup workers in Marshall were forced to improvise less invasive procedures that balanced oil cleanup with protecting the ecosystem.

On July 16, 2010, just nine days before the Marshall accident, the EPA warned that the proprietary nature of the diluents found in dilbit could complicate cleanup efforts. The agency was commenting on the State Department's Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) of the Keystone XL, a proposed pipeline that would carry Canadian dilbit across six U.S. states and the critically-important Ogallala aquifer.

"First, we note that in order for the bitumen to be transported by the pipeline, it will be either 'diluted with cutter stock (the specific composition of which is proprietary information to each shipper) or an upgrading technology is applied to convert the bitumen to synthetic crude oil,'" the EPA wrote. "…Without more information on the chemical characteristics of the diluent or the synthetic crude, it is difficult to determine the fate and transport of any spilled oil in the aquatic environment.

"For example, the chemical nature of dilutent may have significant implications for response as it may negatively impact the efficacy of traditional floating oil spill response equipment or response strategies. In addition, the Draft EIS addresses oil in general and as explained earlier, it may not be appropriate to assume this bitumen crude/synthetic crude shares the same characteristics as other oils."

How does dilbit affect pipeline safety?

Some watchdog groups contend that dilbit is more corrosive than conventional oil and causes more pipeline leaks. The industry disputes that theory, and there are no independent studies to support either side. In late 2011, Congress passed a bill that ordered the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to study if dilbit increases the risk of spills. Results are expected in 2013.

The industry says that Canadian tar sands oil is very similar to conventional heavy crudes from places such as Venezuela, Mexico and Bakersfield, California. Those crude oils, however, aren't transported through the nation's pipelines. The Bakersfield oil is processed at on-site refineries, while the Venezuelan and Mexican imports are shipped via tankers to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The same watchdogs that criticize dilbit say that synthetic crude—which is also made from bitumen—poses no additional threats to pipeline safety. The U.S. currently imports more than 1.2 million barrels of Canadian dilbit and synthetic crude per day, and that figure is expected to grow dramatically in next decade. Most of the increased production will come from dilbit—because Canada's synthetic crude upgraders have reached capacity, and because it's more financially lucrative for U.S. refineries to process dilbit.

Does the government regulate dilbit differently from conventional crude oil?

For the most part, no.

Dilbit is not subject to any additional safety regulations, and PHMSA doesn't track the specific kind of crude oil that flows through each pipeline. This is one of the reasons why it's hard to compare dilbit's safety record with that of conventional crude.

But oil from the tar sands is regulated differently when it comes to taxes. The oil industry pays an 8-cent-per-barrel tax on crude oil produced and imported to the U.S. The tax goes into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which provides emergency funds for oil spill cleanup and claims. Both the Marshall and BP Gulf Coast spills have tapped that fund.

In early 2011, five months after the Marshall spill, the IRS ruled to exempt dilbit and synthetic crude from paying this tax. The energy and environment news service E&E Publishing reported that the exemption was made "at the request of a company whose identity was kept secret."

Some say the oil from Canada's tar sands is so different based on its chemistry, behavior and how it's produced, that it should not be considered crude oil.

"One would not consider tar sands typical crude," said Kinner, the University of New Hampshire professor. "It's not considered crude oil by most people who deal with oil and oil spills."

Kinner co-directs the Coastal Response Research Center, a collaboration between the university and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The center conducts research on innovations in spill response and recently launched a Submerged Oil Working Group.  

The tar sands boom is part of a larger industry trend of producing heavier crude oils, whether that's bitumen or conventional heavy crudes, Kinner said. "All the lighter stuff has been used up…we wouldn't be taking tar sands if it wasn't economically viable…and with time, there will be more [spills with] submerged oil."
Anthony Swift, an attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council who has spent years studying the tar sands industry, said the Marshall spill points to the need for more stringent dilbit regulations.

The Marshall spill is not the largest oil spill in U.S. history, but it is by far the most costly. Using figures from PHMSA's pipeline incident database, Swift calculated that the average cleanup cost of every crude oil spill from the past 10 years was $2,000 per barrel. The Marshall spill has cost upwards of $29,000 per barrel.

"When you have something that isn't the biggest spill we've had, but turns out to be far more damaging and difficult to deal with, that raises the question, what about this spill was different?" Swift said. "And what was different is what spilled."

Researcher Lisa Schwartz contributed to this report.