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


March 13, 2018

Politics of Road Buliding- The Portughese Way

Malawi: Presidency’s ‘sweetheart contractor’ Mota-Engil grabs the lion’s share of road contracts

It is widely seen as the Malawi presidency’s sweetheart contractor. And a leaked official report lends weight to this perception, showing that Portuguese-based multinational engineering firm Mota-Engil has almost 10 times the value of government road-building contracts as its nearest rival.

This story was supported by the Centre for Investigative Journalism Malawi, in association with the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism

A report by the Roads Authority (RA) shows that Portuguese-based multinational engineering firm Mota-Engil currently has road contracts in Malawi with a combined value of 142-billion Malawi kwacha (R2.4-billion).

By contrast, the second most-favoured company, Zhajoung of China, is engaged in government road projects worth just K14.9-million (R250-million).

A high-ranking executive from a rival civil engineering company, who asked to remain anonymous, said the feeling among competitors was that Mota-Engil was the principal beneficiary of Malawi government tenders.

“We cannot protest the conduct of government when it comes to awarding these projects to Mota-Engil because the construction industry in Malawi is guided by politics,” the executive said.

Asked for comment, Mota-Engil’s public relations officer, Thomas Chafunya, said any questions should be directed to the Malawi government and the RA.

“We are the bidding and contracted party, but they are the contracting authority and owners of the projects on behalf of Malawi,” he said.

The RA’s public relations manager, Portia Kajanga, insisted that the authority follows the Public Procurement Act.

Kajanga said all donor-funded projects must follow donor requirements and guidelines, meaning that “the RA follows transparent procurement systems – there is no bias in the award of contracts”.

Kanjanga also said the RA manages numerous projects under the government’s recurrent and development programmes.

“Under the development programme, the authority is managing 10 contracts, five of which are being executed by Mota-Engil and the rest managed by different contractors,” she said.

According to the Roads Authority report, Mota-Engil has been contracted to build the Thyolo-Makwasa-Thekerani-Makhanga road, funded to the tune of K27.3-million (R450-million) by the Malawi government, the Kuwait Fund, the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, the Saudi Fund and Opec.

Construction on the 82km road began in August 2016 and is expected to be completed next year.

The company is also building:

the 95km Lilongwe Old Airport-Kasiya Spur road, costing over K39.6-billion (R670-million), with Malawi government funding. The project, which will take up to 95 months, commenced in January 2015.
The 75km Liwonde-Mangochi road worth K29.9-billion (R450-million), funded by the African Development Bank.
The government-funded 75km Njakwa-Livingstonia Project, which will cost K39-billion (R670-million).
The 4.4km highway from Parliament to the Bingu National Stadium, which will cost MK6.6-billion (R90-million). The funding is from the Malawi government, through the Road Fund.

Mota’s nearest rivals are Zhajoung of China, which the RA report said has work worth MK14.9-billion; China Railway Bridge 5 (MK9.8-million, or R166-million); and Malawian-owned Fargo (MK9.2-billion, or R150-million).

The generous treatment of Mota-Engil follows repeated controversies over its relationship with former president Bingu wa Mutharika, the older brother of Malawi’s current leader, Peter Mutharika.

The brothers were very close. Local media reported that Bingu left Peter K74-million in cash in his will, as well making him co-executor of his estate. He is a key figure in the Bineth Trust, Bingu’s property vehicle.

The Nation newspaper reported that Bingu died in April 2012 “at the height of whispers regarding his relationship with Mota”.

The company reportedly built a villa in Portugal for him called Villa Casablanca, as well the mausoleum of former first lady Ethel Mutharika at his Ndata farm in Thyolo, where he was also buried.

The Nation quoted the company as saying these projects were “donations towards a cause”.

Mota-Engil came under the spotlight in 2012, when The Nation newspaper reported that it had seen three cheques amounting to K13.5-million (about R420 000 at the time) which the company had deposited in Bingu’s personal bank account at the Capital City branch of Standard Bank in Lilongwe. It gave the account number as 0140001886701.

The newspaper reported that the cheques were drawn against Mota-Engil’s Engenhara Eco FMB current account and carried the signature of Mota’s managing director, Antonmarco Zorzi.

Zorzi was quoted as saying that the payments were for copies of The African Dream, Bingu’s book, which he had bought at auction at the book’s launch in February 2011.

The Nation countered that the cheques had been deposited a year earlier than the launch, in March 2010.

Mota’s perceived ties with Bingu were again highlighted in June 2016 by the veteran MP for Mzimba West, Harry Mkandawire, who told the Malawian parliament that Bingu had salted away K61-billion in assets offshore. In 2004, when he became president, Bingu declared K250-million in assets.

In a document tabled in parliament, Mkandawira alleged that the former president received 10% of all payments to Mota on government contracts, and that his offshore assets had been accumulated with the help of “inducements” by the company.

His deceased estate revealed that in addition to Ndata estate, the former president owned six farms in Malawi, four vacant lots and four houses in Blantyre, and vacant land and a house in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Mkandawire said that he had evidence that Bingu had stashed away assets in foreign countries including Australia, the United States, South Africa and Taiwan.

After his sudden death, it was alleged that cash including millions of US dollars was removed from State House. The Malawi Law Society called for a probe of his fortune.

However, President Pete Mutharika angrily challenged Parliament’s public accounts committee to investigate the alleged K61-billion.

He called the allegations “political tactics to torment my family”.

Based on anonymous sources, the Nyasa Times also alleged that Mota is bankrolling a campaign by Agriculture Minister Georg Chaponda to win the presidency next year.

Mutharika has allegedly anointed Chaponda as his successor. The Nyasa Times claimed that the minister refused to grant an interview.

Mota, which has been active in Malawi for more than 20 years, initially entered the country as a road contractor, but its portfolio of contracts has ballooned into new sectors.

In July 2013 the government handed it the management and operation of four ports on Lake Malawi through a concessionary agreement giving it the right to finance, manage and run the ports for a 35-year period.

The Nation reported last year that the contract was awarded without passing through a competitive tender process and violated the Public Procurement Act, as it had not been signed off by the director of public procurement.

The government justified the award by saying no other company was interested. Mota’s chief executive for Africa, Gilberto Rodrigues, was quoted as saying that the approach came from government, adding: “They had a problem and we could be the solution.”

In July 2013 the company built the Nsanje Inland Port, part of the $6-billion Shire-Zambezi waterway project that links Malawi to the Indian Ocean. The port was Bingu Mutharika’s brainchild.

President Mutharika’s press secretary, Mgeme Kalilani, said the responsibility for awarding government road tenders lies squarely with the Roads Authority.

“The presidency, let alone president… Mutharika as an individual has absolutely nothing to do with such processes,” Kalilani said.

“To allege that a company that has been doing business in the country for many years, even before the Mutharika brothers made their names on the local political scene… is a desperate attempt by haters to drag the name of the current president in the mud for malicious reasons.

“Mota-Engil is not winning tenders because it constructed the house of the president’s late brother some years ago.” DM


April 22, 2016

Highway Project Model

Introduced last year by the Union ministry of road transport and highways, acceptance of the hybrid annuity model or HAM for tendering of road projects by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) was initially weak. It continues to remain so.

For instance, the first bid under the HAM model, for four-laning of the Solan-Kaithalighat section in Himachal Pradesh, had no takers. The bid terms had to be revised.

Till date, five projects totalling 279 km (Rs 6,700 crore in value) have been awarded. The FY16 target for HAM was set at 1,400 km. Experts, however, say with more than half of NHAI’s project pipeline lined up under HAM and the government having addressed the sector's key concerns, this is likely to pick up.

After the first bid failed, the government addressed some of the key impediments, particularly on forest clearance and land acquisition. Further, HAM, often referred to as a mix of the Build, Operate, Transfer (BOT) and Engineering, Procurement, Construction (EPC) models, addresses the concerns on both.

Under the latter model, a winning contractor builds the road project and hands it over to the government after completing the construction. Under BOT, he builds the project and operates (collects toll, maintains the road) it, handing it over on completion of the concession period.

Primary concerns such as land acquisition, traffic risk and inflation in BOT projects have been adequately addressed in HAM. Further, with NHAI pitching in 40 per cent of the capital, the project equity risk is likely to be lowered to 18 per cent (as against 30 per cent for BOT) of the project cost, resulting in a superior return profile to that under BOT.
Highway contracts: Hybrid annuity projects to gain pace
HAM scores over EPC for the government as well. From 100 per cent cost of capital to be borne by NHAI under EPC, the exposure is reduced to 40 per cent under HAM.

The question is whether companies would opt for HAM in its new avatar. Virendra Mhaiskar, chairman, IRB Infrastructure, terming HAM a deferred EPC payment structure, feels it might not offer good operating margins or a return creation opportunity vis-a-vis the current BOT model that his company prefers. “Just to wet our feet and find out how really the process happens, we (IRB) might participate in a few bids under HAM but for now, we are not looking at it in a big way,” he said.

Experts say the approach on HAM will depend on a company's stance and current needs. It would have little to do with any concern over the project or model.

Santosh Yellapu of Angel Broking says, “How companies want to build their order books would determine if they want to bid for HAM projects.” According to him, larger companies such as IRB Infra, Ashoka Buildcon and IL&FS Transportation Networks might not participate in the current round of HAM bids, as their current order book is comfortable. Smaller companies such as MBL Infrastructures, MEP Infrastructure Developers and Welspun Corporation, whose order book is in the process of being strengthened, might have more appetite.

A report by ratings agency ICRA adds that features of the HAM model are expected to elicit a favourable response, especially from large EPC players and some BOT ones. Even so, despite a large part of the concerns being addressed, there are other issues influencing companies. Analysts at Emkay Financial Services point to the large difference between L1 (lowest bid price) and L2 (second lowest price) as signifying that no developer wants to bid aggressively.

Some are more optimistic. Kunal Seth of Prabhudas Lilladher feels the larger entities might be warming up to the idea. Also, with BOT projects unlikely to see any meaningful return for older entities such as Gammon, GMR Infra and HCC, given the strain on their finances, some experts feel the trend of declining bids under the BOT model could go on. As more bids open under the HAM model, it might compel the larger ones to change their operating strategy.

For example, the pipeline for EPC projects, though higher than BOT, is less than half that for HAM. “Instead of bidding for three-four small road projects, a large HAM project might be more rewarding for the bigger players as well,” says Seth.

Source- Business Standard

February 18, 2016

Global Bitumen Market @ 72 B and is Growing

ALBANY, New YorkFebruary 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --
The global bitumen market will expand at a CAGR of 3.90% from 2014 to 2020. The market was valued atUS$71.44 billion in 2013. It is expected to reach US$93.38 billion by the end of 2020, according to a research report released by Transparency Market Research. The report titled "Global Bitumen Market - Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2014 - 2020".
According to the research report, the global bitumen market is primarily driven by the growing rate of use in construction of roadways around the world. The report states that there is a rapid increase in the rate of creation of roadways and other related activities, creating a high demand for the global bitumen market. Polymer modified bitumen, a type of bitumen, is highly preferred due to the advantages it provides, such as high porosity, high skid resistance, and low noise. All three properties are the most sought-after ones in the global roadways industry, giving PMB an advantage over other materials.
The global bitumen market's growth rate is, however, restrained to a high degree by the environmental hazards created by the use of bitumen. The report segments the global bitumen market in terms of products and applications, and also provides a geographical dissection. By products, the global bitumen market was dominated by PMB in 2013. The segment held more than 65% of the market for that year and is expected to be the fastest-growing segment for the report's forecast period. PMB is also used for waterproofing purposes.
The report states that more than 80% of the global bitumen market, from the perspective of applications, was dominated by road construction in 2013. Other applications of bitumen arise in automotive, adhesives, paints and enamels, and the roofing industries. From a geographical point of view, the global bitumen market was led by North America in 2013. North America took up over 30% of the global bitumen market in 2013, a market share attributed to expansion of state infrastructure. However, the report states that the fastest growth rate in the global bitumen market for its given forecast period will be held by the Asia Pacific region owing to rapid rate of industrialization.
The key players of the global bitumen market are Villas Austria GmbH, Valero Energy Corporation, Shell Bitumen, Petroleos Mexicanos, Nynas AB, NuStar Energy, JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation, Marathon Oil Company, Indian Oil Corporation, ExxonMobil, China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation ChevronTexaco Corporation, British Petroleum, and Bouygues S.A., The report states that the global bitumen market is highly competitive and fragmented due to the presence of a large number of regional players.
Get Sample Report, Segments or table of Contents as per your Requirements:
Key segments of the Global Bitumen Market 
Bitumen Market - Product Segment Analysis 

Bitumen Market - Application Analysis 

Waterproofing (Roofing) 

Others (including decorative and industrial applications) 
Bitumen Market - Regional Analysis 
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  • Europe
  • China
  • Asia Pacific (Excluding China)
  • Rest of World (RoW)

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September 24, 2015

Bitumen Roads still Better ?

THE second stage of the Hindley St West redevelopment will retain the bitumen road surface after the disastrous results when slippery pavers were installed last year.
The council’s city design and transport manager, Daniel Bennett, said the second stage of the redevelopment, between Register and Morphett streets, would include wider footpaths, more lighting and tree planting but not use pavers on the road.
The pavers used in the first stage did not provide enough grip for motorists, particularly in wet conditions, and the speed limit had to be slashed to 10km/h to ensure safety.
A special “grit coating” was trialled on sections of the pavers in January, before being installed in April, when the speed limit was increased to 30km/h.
The $2 million second stage is still in the concept design phase but the council expects it to start in 2016.
Lord Mayor Martin Haese said the project was vital to the ongoing revitalisation of the West End.
“It supports recent developments, such as the SA Medical and Health Research Institute, the new Royal Adelaide Hospital and UniSA, as well as encouraging more people to the area,” he said.
“The hard work put into developing the footpath upgrade with the community will help improve links within the West End Precinct to new developments on North Terrace.
“This process to renew and invigorate Hindley West really has been a team effort with the local community playing an important role.
“I’m sure we’ll all be very proud of the end result, with great new elements like greening, lighting and outdoor dining spaces.
“Collaborating with the community on these exciting improvements to our public spaces leads to further private investment that creates new jobs and exciting opportunities for our city.”
Mr Bennett said the second stage of the project would be jointly funded by the council and the State Government.
“We were very pleased to receive $1 million from the State Government and (the) council will be matching that funding,” he said.
Mr Bennett, said no decision had been made on how to permanently fix the slippery pavers from the first stage of the redevelopment.
“At the moment we are still assessing it (the grit treatment) and we will decide whether to patch it, reapply it or to find another solution,” he said.
The first stage cost $4 million and included contributions from the Adelaide City Council along with state and federal governments.
The development was criticised at the time by local traders because of delays and a loss of foot traffic while construction was ongoing.
Originally published as Slippery pavers dumped from Hindley St second upgrade
Source -

August 27, 2015

NO Bitumen Tankers

Lynne Quarmby, the science-professor-turned-Green-candidate, is calling for a ban on supertankers, including vessels shipping diluted bitumen from Kinder Morgan’s Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby.
Quarmby, along with the Green’s federal leader Elizabeth May, talked about the party’s plan to ban supertankers on B.C.’s coast at an Aug.18 event in Victoria.
The ban would include Aframax tankers, the mid-sized vessels many of Kinder Morgan’s customers currently use to fill up with oil at the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby, but only ones carrying diluted bitumen, according to Quarmby.
“There’s a higher risk to that,” she said. “One of the things I think is least appreciated, … is the ‘dil’ part, the diluents, they are volatile chemicals. They separate out of this stuff and go into the air. ... They are neurotoxins. … When I work with small volumes of these chemicals in the lab, I do it with a fume hood.”
Quarmby is running in Burnaby North-Seymour, the riding that encompasses the Kinder Morgan pipeline terminus and the Westridge dock. She was also among the hundreds arrested on Burnaby Mountain last fall, while protesting the pipeline.

© 2015 Burnaby Now - See more at: 

April 23, 2014

Alberta Bitumen- No to Asia for Now

The Alberta oil industry’s Northern Gateway plan is to export bitumen to Asia via tankers from the BC coast.  Under no circumstances should we allow that to happen.

A bitumen spill at sea could destroy our coastline, together with the fish and wildlife that depend on it, for hundreds of years.

I have previously discussed the light oil spill by the Exxon Valdez and the terrible toll it took on the Alaskan habitat and fishery.  It also gave proof that a bitumen spill would be far worse. A bitumen spill would be almost completely unrecoverable because it would sink and stay on the bottom of our seabed.

The solution that is best for Canada is to build a refinery in Kitimat.  I am promoting and backing this solution.  It will convert the bitumen to very light fuels that would float and evaporate if ever spilled.  There are other enormous benefits:

• There will be a major reduction in greenhouse gases.  We will use new cutting-edge Canadian technology in our refinery.  It will be so clean that, in combination with oilsands extraction, there will be less CO2 than in the huge conventional oilfields and refineries of Iraq and Nigeria.  In other words, the Kitimat refinery will neutralize the extra greenhouse gases generated in Canada’s oilsands.

This refinery will be built in Asia if not in Kitimat, and if so it will emit double the CO2 of our new design.  This is the reason that Andrew Weaver of the BC Green Party is in favour of a Canadian refinery.

• An Asian refinery will also generate 100 train cars a day of very dirty coke (much fouler than B.C. coal) which will be subsequently burnt in the atmosphere to create power.  The Kitimat refinery will not result in the production of any coke. As we all live on one planet, it is far better for the global environment to build this refinery in Canada.

• Construction of the refinery will create 6,000 jobs in B.C. for five years. Operations at the refinery will result in more permanent jobs than any project has ever created in BC with approximately 3,000 direct jobs. These will be highly paid permanent jobs. These jobs will be available for the life of the refinery which should be in excess of 50 years. In addition there will be thousands of other jobs created in spinoff local petrochemical companies and in indirect employment throughout the province.

• The Canadian and provincial governments, local regional districts and municipalities, and many First Nations, will share in billions of new tax dollars each year.

Unfortunately our Canadian oil companies are not interested in building a new major refinery.  They are focused on extraction which is more profitable than refining.  One of them challenged me to spearhead the refinery myself, so I am doing that.  We have a solid business plan and as a consequence Chinese banks and other institutions are prepared to lend us most of the funds required to build the greenest and most efficient refinery in the world.

We are currently moving ahead with engineering design and environmental work.

We will also build a safe pipeline from Alberta to the refinery, with the active participation of First Nations.  Modern pipelines can be built and operated safely.  Leak data is available for everyone to see on Canadian and U.S. government websites and it proves recently constructed pipelines are not leaking.  Furthermore some of the best pipelining companies in the world are based in Canada.

In addition we will build a fleet of new tankers, powered by LNG rather than Bunker C oil, to transport the refined products to Asia.  This way we know the tankers will be state-of-the-art and as safe as possible.  The fleet will be owned by a company based in B.C. so it cannot shirk its legal liability if there ever is a spill at sea.

Let me be up front about my biases.  I am for creating thousands of good permanent jobs in B.C.  I am for creating billions of new tax dollars for government coffers.  I am for reducing the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions. I am for building an oil pipeline that will never leak.  I am for building a modern tanker fleet that carries only refined fuels that float and evaporate if spilled. I am against shipping bitumen in tankers.
If you agree that we should not put bitumen in tankers please contact your local MP and say so.  The
Canadian government makes a decision on Northern Gateway next month.

David Black is chairman and founder of Black Press.

Source- Penticton

July 30, 2013

Aspahlt Roads - 143 years Old

 The first asphalt road was implemented 143 years ago today, as Belgian immigrant Edward de Smedt tested his mix of oil bitumen and aggregate on Williams Street in Newark to end the battle between wagon wheels and muddy streets. 
The automobile had not yet even been invented, so carriages and wagons with wooden spokes and rims, sometimes sheathed in iron, were ill equipped to deal with soggy roads that were commonplace in certain climates more than half the year.

Today, certain automobiles are capable of crossing shallow streams and handling mud and a variety of terrain conditions, but not in de Smedt’s day.

We bet you never guessed the pothole existed before the automobile!

Despite the invention of asphalt and the considerable amount of traffic along the Eastern Seaboard in those days, by 1904 only 154 miles of paved highway existed in the US.

Today, a glance at a road atlas could give a young man in the wide-open Western US the mistaken impression everything east of the Mississippi River is pavement.

In fact there are over a million miles of urban freeways today, including 59,000 miles in the Interstate Highway System and other freeways.

The origin of the word asphalt goes all the way back to Sanskrit and specifically referred to pitch – another reference to oil bitumen.

Though perhaps less important than the advances of Jonas Salk or Steve Jobs, Edward de Smedt’s contribution to American commerce is undeniable. Without his ubiquitous invention much of America would still be wallowing in the mud, so to speak.

Even so, covering large areas of the ground with the black stuff creates urban heat islands as well, and the temperature over a large mall parking lot can easily reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit on a hot summer’s day.
Concrete uses a completely different binder mixed with granite, limestone or sand, but remarkably the degree of its use in human endeavors is second only to our use of water.

Largely the march of history consists of trading problems we are tired of for problems we haven’t recognized yet. Eventually we identify them, tire of them and find a way to trade them in for a newer problem – until it too becomes familiar.

Source -Torquenews

June 28, 2013

Another Bitumen Spill

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

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

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

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

Source- Muscat Daily

June 15, 2013

Moving Bitumen By Rail is the Cheaper Option ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'An almost ever-changing array'

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

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

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

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

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

June 14, 2013

Asphalt Recycling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 29, 2013

Bitumen Facility- A Health Risk ?

Alberta Energy Minister Ken Hughes is halting drilling until emissions are reduced.Alberta Energy Minister Ken Hughes is halting drilling until emissions are reduced. (CBC)
There is no scientific evidence linking health symptoms to emissions from the CHOPS tanks.There is no scientific evidence linking health symptoms to emissions from the CHOPS tanks. (CBC)
Thera Breau moved her family from their Peace Country home when her children experienced unexplained health problems. Thera Breau moved her family from their Peace Country home when her children experienced unexplained health problems. (CBC)
A family is blaming emissions from a nearby heavy oil production site for chasing them from their Peace Country home of seven years in northwestern Alberta.

Thera Breau says the decision to move came down to the health of her young kids who started experiencing unexplained health problems.

"They had urinary incontinence with a strong smell of ammonia," said Breau, who also noticed speech problems and skin rashes developed by her toddler.

Breau made the decision to move on the morning of Mar. 18 when she took her five-year-old son to catch the bus in front of her house.
"His eye was twitching so bad that he had a temper tantrum." Breau said.

"The air stank so I called the ERCB (Energy Resources Conservation Board), and decided I didn't want to live here anymore until I could be told that it was safe."
The Breaus left their rural bungalow, moving to a small rented home in the nearby community of McLennan.

Not the first to leave

Breau's family is not the first to pack up and leave the area. At least six other families have done the same.
Mike Labrecque, 60, moved from his home southeast of Peace River last year as his health was deteriorating.
He dropped 40 pounds and was experiencing allergic-type reactions such as hives and difficulty beathing. He now lives in a cabin along a lake without power or water and has seen a noticable improvement in his health.

When he does venture back to his property, he needs an industrial-strength gas mask in order to breathe comfortably.

"It's very depressing, I know I will never be able to live here again," said Labrecque through a gas mask while standing in what was the kitchen of the house under construction on his abandoned property.
"My body has suffered way too much damage... my body is totally allergic to the air here."
As for the possible cause of the fleeing residents' difficulties, all point to a relatively new process of extracting bitumen from underground in the region called Cold Heavy Oil Production with Sand, or CHOPS, where heavy oil is pumped from the ground and stored in heated tanks which produce emissions that form an aerosol-type plume.

No scientific evidence linking emissions to symptoms

Though there is no scientific evidence linking fumes from the tanks to any of the symptoms experienced by area residents, many blame the emissions for their ailments which began, they say, when new wells were drilled by Baytex Energy in 2011.

While the ERCB regulates smaller industrial energy operations such as CHOPS, it monitors the air only for sour gas and sulphur dioxide.Breau and the other families are convinced there are harmful substances in the emissions going unmonitored.

In March, Alberta's minister of energy made a trip to the Three Creeks region northwest of Peace River to assess the problem. It was following that visit that the Alberta Government took the unusual step of turning down an application by Baytex Energy to increase the number of drill sites.
Minister Ken Hughes told CBC News the Mar. 22nd decision was "unprecedented."

"What I could detect was that there was something in the air that was different than the rest of Alberta," Hughes said.

"This kind of development was experiencing different emissions, and different air quality problems."

Drilling company studying emissions

Further development by Baytex Energy won't be approved until the emissions are drastically reduced or eliminated entirely, he said.

Baytex Energy of Calgary declined to be interviewed for this story, but in an email exchange, Chief Operating Officer Marty Proctor said the company has undertaken "numerous operational enhancements" to reduce emissions and improve communications with residents.

While the displaced residents are seeking compensation from the company, they say it's not just about the money. Residents say they would move back to their homes immediately if they felt their health was no longer at risk.

Baytex Energy is now unertaking an extensive air emissions study, and said it will speak further to the allegations of harmful emissions when the study is complete.

Source - CBC News

May 21, 2013

Less Levy & Poor Road Maintenance

THE Democratic Alliance (DA) on Sunday cited two independent studies — by the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA) and the Southern African Bitumen Association — as proof that the South African Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) is misleading the public on the necessity of toll roads.

DA transport spokes-man Ian Ollis would approach Transport Minister Ben Martins and Sanral chief Nazir Alli to "account for their failure to adequately explore the use of the fuel levy to fund road maintenance".
Mr Ollis said the AA study conducted in 2008 reveals that abolishing the dedicated fuel levy in 1988 resulted in significantly less spending on road infrastructure and maintenance, resulting in the deterioration of the quality of roads.

After 1988, the levy went to the fiscus and the Treasury uses it for any purpose it deems fit.
Mr Ollis said on Sunday it was the DA’s policy that the fuel levy should again be ring-fenced so that these funds would be used solely for road infrastructure and maintenance and not for other purposes.

Spokesman Vusi Mona said Sanral was not responsible for the allocation of funds. "Treasury decides what goes where. If he (Mr Ollis) has studied other studies, such as the Development Bank of Southern Africa report, he would see that the fuel levy is not enough.

"Last year Treasury aimed to collect R42bn from the fuel levy but only managed R40bn. If you look at the N1 and N2 road maintenance projects in only three provinces that has already consumed the money from the fuel levy."

Source Garden Route Media

November 6, 2012

President Woos Voters with Bitumen Roads

I’ll build more roads if you vote for me - Mahama tells Upper West residents

President John Mahama is promising the people of the Upper West Region massive road construction in all corners of the region if he wins the December election.

The President admits the Upper West region seriously lags behind as compared to other regions in terms of good roads.

It still remains the only region where there are no tarred or bitumen roads to link it to neighboring regions.

Addressing various rallies at Funsi, Issa, Nadowli and Wechaiu, President Mahama assured the people of making road issues a thing of the past when given the nod.

In a related development, President John Mahama Monday cut sod for work to begin on the construction of a 161 KV transmission line project for Tumu-Han and Wa. This will close the northern loop of Techiman-Tamale-Bolgatanga-Tumu, Wa and Sawla.

The project is expected to improve upon system performance.

According to engineers, this will also enhance the reliability of supply to the Northern parts of Ghana. The 75 million dollar project is funded by Societe General and GRIDCO.

President Mahama says the project goes to confirm his government’s determination to make Ghana net exporter of power.

Chiefs in the various communities continued to openly declare their support for the President and his party. They promised to do their best to ensure the party remains in power. One of them is the chief of

Source- MyJoyonline

February 29, 2012

PMB in Russia

Polymer Modified Bitumen is gaining inroads in various parts of the world for construction of high traffic expressways and the fever caught Russia as well.. Pls read.

Lead experts of PU Bitumen (a TNK-BP unit) are taking part in the international specialized Polymer Asphalt Cement: Innovations in Construction exhibit. The conference is taking place on March 15-16 in Moscow with the assistance of Russia's Ministry for Transportation and Federal Road Agency (Rosavtodor).

The exhibit attendants will see PU Bitumen's innovative developments and unique materials used for road construction; in particular, the TNK Alfabit polymer asphalt cement products.
PE Bitumen actively engages in a project pursued by Rosavtodor and Ministry of Transport and Motor Roads of the Ryazan region where they test and compare different types of polymer asphalt cement for asphalt concrete mixtures. The test results will lay ground for making justified decisions on a more widespread usage of polymer asphalt cement for motor roads in Moscow and the Moscow region. The

TNK Alfabit has been used to pave experimental road sections of the Moscow ring road and Simferopolskoe highway.

The TNK Alfabit polymer asphalt cement meets the best international standards, and has been tailor-made for our country with due account for its specific climate zones. The new product is highly durable and is just as easy to use as the traditional bitumen. "To use this innovative product, road engineers need to modify neither their process equipment, nor the processes", said PU Bitumen Leader Andrey Chirkin.
Information for editors:

TNK Alfabit is an innovative product by TNK-BP. Using TNK Alfabit eliminates the issues inherent in road maintenance, prevents road cracking brought about by temperature swings, enhances the road surface and makes it more resistant to rutting. Using TNK Alfabit allows increasing the time between road surface overhauls to 6 years when roads actively used.

World practices in application of polymer-modified bitumen for road construction reveal its distinctive excellence compared to other improving agents used for asphalt concrete mixtures. The polymer asphalt cement has recently taken 10-12% of the European market of road construction bitumen. In view of the increasing traffic flow, the polymer asphalt concrete gains on popularity in Russia as well.


April 23, 2011

Russian Poor Quality Bitumen- Cement an Alternative

As the Russian refineries are century old and the specification of russian bitumen vastly differs from their peers around the world, Russia is at crossroads.

There is no agreement of opinion for the origin of the popular saying: "there are two problems in Russia - fools and roads". Yet most people agree on that and add that poor-quality roads come as a consequence of the first problem.

However, Russian Transport Minister dares to break the established pattern: asphalt on the roads is to be replaced by concrete.

Russia does not produce asphalt of proper quality, admits Igor Levitin to Rossia 24, then Russia should either improve the quality of bitumen or take up cement concrete for road construction.

Concrete roads are cheaper. Stepping away from traditional bitumen will significantly curtail construction costs, says Nikita Krichevsky, Dr.of Economics and chairman of Opora Rossii expert council, to Izvestia: The most expensive part of the road is the base layer. Using reinforced concrete plates as the base material will decrease the costs by 8 times, he says.

Nonetheless, some experts doubt the success of new construction material. Asphalt solution is a funds cornucopia for construction slackers who steadily get their "pork" money from different state-owned appropriations. The road repair seems to be a non-stop process revived after each winter period. In 2011, Russia is to repair 5,500 km of federal roads.

According to the analysis of World Bank, roads repair in Russia is quite a wasteful business: $27,000-$55,000 for 1 km of the road surface. In comparison to that, Finland (the country of alike climate conditions) spends a bit over $9,000 per 1 km. Trying to find the cause of this costs discrepancy, the bank's experts suggested that "factors contributing to high costs of maintaining roads in Russia are likely to come from insufficient competition in the road industry, as well as leakage of funds and corruption".