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

February 17, 2017

Bitumen in Road Construction

Bitumen is used in road construction due to various properties and advantages it has over other pavement construction materials. Advantages of bitumen for road construction is discussed.

Why is Bitumen Used in Road Construction?

Bitumen gain certain unique properties that are inbuilt in it during its manufacture. The bitumen as a raw material in flexible road construction and bitumen as a mix (composing other materials i.e. aggregates/ pozzolans) serves certain advantages, that prompt to use bitumen widely in road construction.

Use of Bitumen in Flexible Road Construction

The reason behind the significant application of bitumen in flexible pavements are explained below:

1. Production of Bitumen is economical

Bitumen is a by-product of crude oil distillation process. Crude oil itself is a composition of hydrocarbons. The primary products that are available are the petrol, diesel, high octane fuels and gasoline.
When these fuels are refined from the crude oil, the bitumen is left behind. Further treatment of by-product, to make it free from impurities give pure bitumen.
As the primary product demand is of utmost importance to the society, the bitumen as a by product has survival for long. This by product is utilized as a new construction material, without going for any other new resource.

2. Physical and Rheological Properties of Bitumen bring Versatility

The physical and the chemical properties of Bitumen are found to be a function of load level, temperature and the duration of loading. It is a thermoplastic and viscoelastic material.
These dependencies make us to truly access the traffic on the road so that a bitumen mix properties can be varied based on the stress levels calculated. This versatility of bitumen results in a large variety of bitumen mix, based on the road application.

3. The Melting Point of Bitumen is low

It is highly appreciable about the fact that bitumen has a favorable melting point, that helps in both surface dressing and wearing resistance with ease.
The melting point of the bitumen should not be too high, that it can be melted easily during laying the pavement. At the same time, bitumen has a melting point, which would not let the already casted road pave to melt and deform under high temperatures.
In areas of high temperatures, along with this quality of bitumen, the aggregate composition helps to cover up the effect of large temperature.

4. Bitumen can undergo Recycling

As the melting point of bitumen is favorable, it can be melted back to its original state. This is called as asphalt recycling process.
The torn-up asphalt pieces are taken up to the recycling plant, instead of sending them to landfills. This recycled mix can be reused. If necessary, the old bitumen is mixed with new bitumen and new aggregates to make the mix live again.

5. Bitumen gain Adhesive Nature

As explained in the production of bitumen, it is free from hydrocarbon and hence not toxic. The by product is refined to maximum to get rid of organic materials and impurities.
The bitumen has a highly adhesive nature, which keeps the materials in the road mix bind together under strong bonds. These become stronger when the mix is set i.e. ready for vehicle movement.

6. Bitumen has Color Variety

The traditional bitumen is black in color. This is because the dense organic material within bitumen is black in color. Now, when certain pigments are added to bitumen, the color of our choice can be obtained. These are colored bitumen.
It is costly than the normal colored bitumen. The disadvantage of colored bitumen is that it requires more chemical additives and materials.

Requirements of Bitumen Mixes for Road Construction

An overall bitumen mix is used in the construction of flexible pavement to serve the following needs.
  • Structural Strength
  • Surface Drainage
  • Surface Friction

Structural Strength of Bituminous Pavements

The figure below shows a typical cross section of flexible pavement, that was developed in the USA. The structural bitumen layer composes of:
  • Bituminous surface or wearing course
  • Bituminous binder course
  • Bituminous base course
The primary purpose of these bitumen mixes is structural strength provision. This involves even load dispersion throughout the layers of the pavement. The loads involved are dynamic or static loads, which is transferred to the base subgrade through the aggregate course.
A granular base with a bituminous surface course is only provided for roads of low traffic. It is just sufficient and economical.
The rebounding effect of bitumen upper layers helps in having resistance against high dynamic effect due to the heavy traffic. Rebounding property is reflected by the stiffness and the flexibility characteristics of the bitumen top layers. When looking from bottom to top, the flexibility characteristics should increase.
Studies have shown that the above mentioned characteristics of aggregates are attained using densely graded bitumen mixes. This mix should make use of nominal maximum size aggregate (NMAS), that must decrease from the base course- binder course – surface course.
The nominal maximum size aggregate (NMAS) = One sieve larger than first sieve-to retain more than 10% of combined aggregate.
There is a higher amount of bitumen content in the wearing course, that make the layer more flexible. This would help in increasing the durability.

Surface Drainage of Bituminous Pavements

Subsurface drainage can be facilitated using granular sub base in the construction of flexible pavement. Permeable asphalt treated base (PATB) can be used to provided positive surface drainage in major highways. This would behave as a separate course for facilitating subsurface drainage.

Surface Friction of Bituminous Roads

It is essential for the pavement layer to provide enough skid resistance and friction, during vehicle passage, especially in wet condition. This would ensure the safety of the passengers. The macro and the micro surface texture of the asphalt mix contributes towards the surface friction.

The mix gradation i.e. open graded or dense graded will contribute to macro surface texture. The open graded mix have higher macro surface than dense graded. The water is squeezed out from the bottom of vehicle tire when the high macro surface texture is implemented.
The micro surface texture is contributed by the aggregate surface, that is exposed when the above bitumen layer is torn.

Advantages of Bituminous Road Construction Over Concrete Pavements

1. A smooth Ride Surface

It does not make use of any joints; Hence provide a smooth surface to ride. It also gives less sound emission when compared with concrete pavements. The wear and tear are less in the bituminous pavement, thus maintaining the smoothness.

2. Gradual Failure

The deformation and the failure in the bituminous pavement is a gradual process. The concrete pavement shows brittle failures.

3. Quick Repair

They have an option to be repaired to be quick. They don’t consume time in reverting the path for traffic; as they set fast.

4. Staged Construction

This helps in carrying out staged construction in a situation when problems of fund constraint or traffic estimation problems are faced.

5. Life Cost is Less

The initial cost and overall maintenance cost of bituminous pavement are less compared to concrete pavement.

6. Temperature Resistant

They act resistant against high temperature from melting and are not affected by de-icing materials.

Disadvantages of Bituminous Pavement

  1. Bituminous pavements are less durable
  2. Low tensile strength compared to concrete pavement
  3. Extreme weather and improper weather conditions tend to make bituminous pavement slick and soft.
  4. Bitumen with impurities can cause pollution to soil, hence ground water by their melting. These may have hydrocarbons in small amounts.
  5. Clogging of pores and drainage path during construction and service life
  6. More salting- to prevent snow during winter season
  7. Cost of construction high during extreme conditions of temperature

Source - enggfeed

May 18, 2016

NHAI to convert 1,205 km of State Highways into National Highways

The Detailed Project Report for laying of a road connecting Anantapur in Rayalaseema with new Capital City of Amaravati will be ready in two months, said Transport and R&B Minister Sidda Raghava Rao.

The straight road, to be funded by the Centre, is expected to cost about Rs.18,000 crore and once ready, the travel time between the two cities will be just six hours.

A team of officials comprising Roads &Buildings Principal Secretary Sam Bob, Engineer in Chief and others left for San Francisco on a study tour on execution of such projects, he said.

Addressing a media conference here on Tuesday, Mr. Raghava Rao detailed the work done by the department ahead of the Andhra Pradesh Government completing two years on June 8.
While the length of roads under R&B is 45,000 km, nearly 4,000 km single-lane roads were widened into two-lane roads.

“While the 10-year rule by the Congress left the roads in a shambles, Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu took it upon himself to improve their condition in the State and also lay new roads. Roads are the basic infrastructure required for the industrial development”, he said.

The Government’s objective was to connect rural areas to mandal headquarters, mandals to district headquarters and the district headquarters to the new Capital City Amaravati.

In the current financial year another 2,517 km of single-lane roads would be widened into two-lane roads, 38 km of two-lane roads would be developed into four-lane roads.

Road bridges

The department also proposes to construct nine Road Over Bridges and 25 bridges. Special repairs would be taken up on 2,412 km of roads.

The National Highways Authority of India gave a commitment to convert 1,205 km of State Highways into National Highways. The Roads &Buildings Department allocated Rs.3,000 crore during current fiscal for development of State highways and link roads.

In the 2014-15 fiscal, 1,336 km of roads were widened into two-lane roads and another 3,089 km of roads were repaired and three Road over Bridges and another 20 bridges constructed.
In the 2015-16 financial year, 2,636 km single-lane roads were developed into two-lane roads and special repairs were carried out on 2,890 km of roads besides constructing five RoBs and 18 bridges.

World Bank funds

The roads being laid with World Bank funds such as Rajahmundry to Kakinada were monitored and the contractors who do not execute quality work removed. The R&B also took over 5,420 km of Panchayat Raj roads recently and tenders were being called shortly to develop 545 km of roads.

For the Krishna Pushkaram, R&B would spend Rs.389 crore on improvement of roads and the works completed by July-end, he said.

Source- The Hindu

February 3, 2016

Kuwait's Road Project

Mushrif Trading and Contracting Company (MTCC), a leading civil construction firm, said it has been awarded a KD14 million ($46 million) contract for road works aimed at improving traffic flow at Al Bidda Roundabout in the Kuwait City.

The MTCC contract signed by Ministry of Public Works is one of several projects in its pipeline to upgrade and improve the country's road network. It is expected to be completed in the next two years.

Located on the city's eastern coastline where Al Blajat Street meets Al Ta'awon Street and the Fifth Ring Road, Al Bidda Roundabout is a busy junction that often suffers from a slowdown in the flow of traffic.

Given existent construction in the area surrounding Al Bidda Roundabout, no changes will be made to its current size and shape, said a statement from the contractor.

As per the deal, Mushrif 's role will be to construct a grade separated interchange at a north-south axis along the coastal roads, said a senior official.

"Mushrif has been a long-standing partner to the Ministry of Public Works on several projects over the last four decades and has delivered over 20 road projects since," remarked its chief executive Chris Preece.

"We are proud to be an integral part of Kuwait's ongoing development efforts and it's not only about improving traffic conditions, but playing a lead role in 'building' Kuwait," he stated.

According to Preeece, this is the second road contract to be awarded to Mushrif within the last four months.

"We had outbid nine major international and local contractors with an offer at KD82.8 million ($272 million) for ministry tender for a 40-km road serving new developments in the cities of Sabah Al Ahmad and Mina Abdulla including the Mina Abdulla industrial area, and allow for safe access to and from Al Wafra," he added.

In addition to protecting and relocating utilities in the area, Mushrif will be managing traffic during the construction phase to keep the busy Al Bidda Roundabout operational as per Ministry of Interior (MoI) requirements, revealed Preece.

It will also work closely with MoI to install ducting, cabling and CCTV masts for future traffic surveillance and management, while relocating existing security cameras, he added.-

Source - TradeArabia News Service

November 2, 2015

Mining Bitumen or Mercury ?

Mercury levels around the Alberta oilsands are 16 times higher than background loads, with contamination taking on the shape of a 'bull's-eye' over the region, say Environment Canada scientists.

Speaking at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry conference in Nashville, Environment Canada researchers Jane Kirk and Derek Muir said mercury levels are at their highest concentration in the immediate area of oilsands operations but extend out to cover a 19,000-square-kilometre area, Postmedia reports.

“Here we have a direct source of methyl mercury being emitted in this region and deposited to the landscapes and water bodies,” Kirk told Postmedia.

“So come snowmelt that methyl mercury is now going to enter lakes and rivers where potentially it could be taken up directly by organisms and then bioaccumulated and biomagnified though food webs.”

Kirk did quantify her findings by pointing out the fact mercury loadings around the oilsands region are still lower than in heavy coal-consuming areas of North America, such as southern Ontario and Quebec.

Kirk's findings come on the heels of a study released in October that found rising traces of mercury in bird eggs downstream from the oilsands.

The study, which was conducted by the Joint Oil Sands Monitoring (JOSM) program, a federal-provincial initiative, is the third peer-reviewed study since 2010 to show mercury levels increasing in the ecosystem in the region, the Globe and Mail reported.

Scientists have expressed concerns over the levels of mercury in the area due to the fact the element accumulates as it moves its way up the food chain.

Concerns over resource extraction in the Mackenzie River basin was such that the Canadian Medical Association recently called for a medical investigation into the health risks and effects that some allege are associated with the industry.

A University of Calgary health study is also expected to be carried out in the near future to encompass the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, the Nunee Health Authority and the Fort McKay Metis community.

Kirk's study, which is expected to be published early this year, highlights what is becoming a hostile business environment for the province's oil industry.

Pipeline projects, which are critical if Alberta oil players are to remain viable, remain under threat of environmental and health pressures in the U.S., in neighbouring B.C. and, to a lesser degree, in Ontario and Quebec.

A thriving oilsands sector is also in the best interest of the Alberta government, which has closely tied its fortunes to the windfall of revenue created by the energy industry in the province.

When the Alberta government found itself unable to balance its budget in 2013, it blamed it on low revenues from the energy sector due to low prices paid for oilsands bitumen and limited pipeline infrastructure.

source- The Huffington Post

August 31, 2015

Bitumen Emulsion Leaking Again

oil spill
Crews work to clean an oil spill near Nexen's Long Lake facility by Fort McMurray. The spill was discovered by a contractor after the safety system designed to detect ruptures failed. Garrett Barry/Fort McMurray Today/Postmedia Network
The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has issued a suspension order on 95 Nexen Energy pipelines in northern Alberta.
The AER said Friday that the suspension order was issued due to “noncompliant activities at Long Lake oilsands operations pertaining to pipeline maintenance and monitoring.”
The order immediately suspends 15 pipeline licences, which encompasses 95 pipelines that are carrying natural gas, crude oil, salt water, fresh water, and emulsion. Before the pipelines can be restarted, Nexen must provide “sufficient documentation” to assure the AER that these lines can be operated safely.
“Protection of public safety and the environment are the AER’s top priority,” said AER president and CEO Jim Ellis, in a press release. “Given that this company has already had a pipeline failure at this site, the AER will not lift this suspension until Nexen can demonstrate that they can be operated safely and within all regulatory requirements. We will accept no less than concrete evidence.”
In July, AER issued an environmental protection order to Nexen Energy over the leak of five million litres of oil emulsion, which is a mix of bitumen, water and sand, from a line at the Long Lake oilsands facility. The spill was discovered on July 15, when a contractor stumbled across the ruptured pipeline.
The affected area from the spill tipped in at about 16,000 square metres, mostly along the pipeline’s route.
The AER is continuing to investigate the spill. Once complete, the AER will publish its findings.

July 15, 2015

Orpic, Pörner sign deal for bitumen unit

Oman Oil Refineries and Petroleum Industries Company (Orpic) has signed a deal with Austria-based Pörner Group, a leading engineering contractor, to provide proprietary Biturox technology for a bitumen production unit planned in Sohar, according to a report.

The bitumen production unit will be a part of the multi-billion dollar Sohar Refinery Improvement Project (SRIP) and will enable Oman to produce bitumen in the sultanate for the first time, said the Oman Daily Observer.

The country has completely depended on imports from Iran and the UAE for its bitumen requirements in order to carry out projects such as asphalting of roads, and various other infrastructure related works.

Pörner Group said it will support the construction of a bitumen unit featuring a pair of reactors each with a capacity to produce 516 tonnes per day (tpd) of bitumen, it further reported.

In addition to supplying the licence and basic engineering, the group will also undertake the detailed engineering, pilot testing and commissioning of the new Biturox unit.

Additional assistance will be rendered in the form of start-up support, documentation and training, it said.
Source- Trade Arabia

October 11, 2014

Grand Pipe Line for Bitumen Approved

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

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

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

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

Landowners, First Nation raise concerns

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

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

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

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

Grand Rapids pipeline project

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

Source- CBC News

April 2, 2014

G E to supply Evaporator for Alberta Bitumen

MEG Energy Corp has selected GE evaporation technology for reusing steam generator water for boiler feed in a bitumen extraction project in Alberta, Canada. 

The Christina Lake project uses both cogeneration and once-through steam generators (OTSGs) to drive the steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) process for the production of bitumen from oil sands. 

GE's evaporators will be used to recycle a significant portion of the steam generator blowdown for Phases 2B and 3A of the project rather than disposing of it by deep well injection. GE will supply fifth generation, fully modularized evaporator systems, which are designed to achieve the lowest possible project costs. 

"We've witnessed industry trends of SAGD projects either installing new systems with OTSG evaporators or retrofitting existing units. As projects in Alberta's oil sands increase, more companies are turning to GE's evaporative technologies to address the critical issue of how to handle produced water," said Bill Heins, general manager, thermal systems--water and process technologies for GE Power & Water 


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

February 19, 2013

Turning Bitumen into Diesel

Strathcona County watched in dismay as the plans for half-a- dozen upgraders disappeared with the 2008-09 global meltdown, recalls Mayor Linda Osinchuk.

But these days, there’s some optimism that at least two of the projects are possible — reviving the mothballed Heartland, also called the B.A. upgrader, already partially built by Calgary-based Value Creation Inc.; and the North West upgrader near Redwater that will turn bitumen into diesel.

The B.A. upgrader, owned by Value Creation Inc., could be ready in 18 months to turn 85,000 barrels of bitumen into synthetic crude that any refinery in Canada could handle, Osinchuk noted.

The North West upgrader, barely started, is just five years away.

That short time frame is very attractive to oilsands producers currently facing a lack of pipeline capacity to ship the stickier bitumen that can go to only a handful of U.S. refineries on the Gulf coast.

“The fastest, soonest solution is the B.A. upgrader,” said Osinchuk. “We support pipelines, of course, but you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. The fastest, soonest solution is the B.A. upgrader.”

Osinchuk is “both frustrated and optimistic” these days. The upgrader’s future is in limbo because of a battle over expanded urban boundaries for the city of Fort McMurray, but there must be a way to find a solution, she says.

Columba Yeung, VCI founder and CEO, says the company needs access to its bitumen reserves as collateral to raise the capital to finish the upgrader. Consultations with the province are underway.

Yeung says that, having closed down the project once due to financial problems, he needs the collateral to convince investors to come back. “We don’t want to go through that again,” he says.

Osinchuk recently visited High River south of Calgary to tour VCI’s new technology project and was excited by what she saw.

Yeung, a research scientist and the engineer who built the Shell Scotford upgrader and refinery, says he has developed new technology that will partially upgrade the bitumen as it comes out of the ground under the steam-assisted gravity drainage techniques.

By removing a component called asphaltenes in the bitumen, the product comes out as a medium crude oil and can be handled by a much wider range of refineries, including those in Eastern Canada, he says.

“If we make it into medium crude, it is also a perfect replacement for Alaskan crude in California,” said Yeung, looking at new potential markets.

The bitumen bubble is caused partly by the fact only a handful of refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast can handle the bitumen, Yeung says.

It is also costly and inefficient to ship it to the Gulf coast as one-third of pipeline product is diluent, he adds.

Osinchuk says the province needs to look at all options to keep the energy industry healthy. “It’s time to move in a bit of a different directions.”

November 2, 2012

Bitumen Shortage Paves way for Concrete Roads

As bitumen shortages continue to impact on the road construction industry, construction company Basil Read believes the use of concrete is a viable alternative construction material that offers long-term benefits.

Basil Read is nearing completion of the N12 section between Tom Jones and Rietfontein, after experiencing delays as a result of steel-rebar shortages in April 2011, followed by a bitumen shortage in October 2011.
“We were given 30 months to complete the project but, because of major material shortages, we are now on 39 months and hoping to complete the project in February or March next year.

“Although we get the contract time extension for these force majeure events, we do not get any cost recovery. The inconvenience to the travelling public is also enormous, not to mention economic costs to the region in terms of time lost in not travelling this section during the delay period,” says Basil Read roads division MD Dave Bennett.

He points out that there is a severe bitumen shortage in South Africa, which has had drastic implications for the roads sector during the past year.

“The road construction industry requires about 1 000 t/d of bitumen to maintain the roads in the country; however, only 30 t/d to 70 t/d is being produced.”

Transport Minister Ben Martins told Engineering News in August that the primary reason for the shortages was that oil companies were experiencing unplanned shutdowns at their refineries. Refineries also did not have sufficient storage capacity to maintain minimum bitumen reserves during shutdowns.

Bennett states that concrete, although it currently may seem expensive, is a viable option to mitigate the impact of bitumen shortages in the road construction sector.
“Ultrathin reinforcement concrete was used in the construction of Basil Read’s section of the N12,” he adds.

Ultrathin Reinforcement Concrete
The ultrathin reinforcement concrete technology was developed based on the observations of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) consultant Adrian Bergh following a visit to an experimental thin-concrete road, which was 100 mm thick and consisted of unreinforced and mesh-reinforced sections, while he attended the second low-volume roads conference in Iowa, in the US in 2001.
He was impressed by the performance and quality of the mesh-reinforced section after 15 years of traffic, compared with that of unreinforced sections.

In 2001, the CSIR experimented with this technology in Krugersdorp and its performance has been remarkable, as the road is still holding up well. A decision was then taken to promote the associated technology through the construction of 50-mm-thick ultrathin reinforced concrete pavement in roads.
After determining the success of the technology, the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport, decided to use it for its road upgrade projects.

The South African National Roads Agency then authorised the implementation of the technology on the upgraded N12 section, undertaken by Basil Read.

“Continuosly reinforced concrete pavements will provide a longer road life span, while reducing the need for rehabilitation on the N12,” says Bennett.

He believes that, from a construction point of view, this technology will provide the industry with more productivity. It is also likely to create more jobs in the industry.

“With more research being done on this technology and the industry being educated on its feasibility and qualities, I believe this should be implemented across the industry,” states Bennett.

Meanwhile, he points out that Basil Read’s roads division has enough work for the rest of this year. The company has also secured various projects for 2013 and has started to look for contracts for 2014.
Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn
 By: Zandile Mavuso

October 8, 2012

Cleaning Up the Bitumen Spill

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered Enbridge back to the site of the largest onshore oil spill in U.S. history to clean up remaining pools of bitumen in the Kalamazoo River.Despite an unprecedented $800-million two year clean-up of one million gallons of oil (200,000 gallons more than Enbridge reported spilled), the EPA is still finding submerged bitumen contaminating a 38 mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River.

The beleaguered proponent of the controversial Northern Gateway project has ten days to respond or to submit work plans to clean up the remaining bitumen contamination.

According to the EPA submerged oil and/or oil-contaminated sediment is still generating an oil sheen on the river or whenever globules are disturbed by motor boat engines.

The rupture, which has sparked a national debate about pipeline safety, was the result of gross negligence. It actually took the company 17 hours to identify the toxic leak which poisoned several hundred people.
The National Transportation Safety Board found that Enbridge's 2010 pipeline rupture in Michigan was totally preventable. It also lambasted Enbridge for its "culture of deviance" on pipeline safety, and criticized the performance of weak regulators.

Once the pipeline ruptured the company failed to respond to the emergency with either adequate manpower or proper spill containment methods. Much of the bitumen, a heavy oil, sank to the bottom of the river while the condensate evaporated into the air making hundreds of people sick.

Instead of concentrating at the source of its spill, initial responders used booms nearly eight miles downstream. As a result more oil contaminated more wetlands and waterways, resulting in a $800 million clean-up or "five times more costly than any other accident."

At the beginning of the emergency Enbridge also used the wrong spill technology at the wrong place and at the wrong time. "It did not have adequate response on site." Nor did local responders have access to Enbridge's response plans.

Due to a series of repeated errors in the company's Edmonton-based pipeline control room the NTSB described the entire disaster an example of an "organizational accident" due to "team performance breakdown."

After the $800-million clean-up, pipeline lobbyists claimed that Enbridge had scrubbed and polished the Kalamazoo river so thoroughly that the company had left river cleaner than before the spill.
Enbridge press releases claim that the company has beefed up its pipeline integrity programs and “placed a renewed emphasis on the safety of our overall system.”

Source- The Tyee
Calgary-based journalist Andrew Nikiforuk is a regular contributor to The Tyee on energy issues.

August 28, 2012

Diluted Bitumen

Enbridge Inc.'s response plan for a potential spill of Northern Gateway oil into the pristine waters off British Columbia doesn't take into account the unique oil mixture the pipeline would actually carry, documents show.
Enbridge (TSX:ENB) officials confirm the spill response plan they have filed with the federal review panel studying the pipeline proposal deals with conventional crude, not specifically the diluted bitumen the pipeline will carry.

But Enbridge says the two react the same way once spilled. However, documents obtained under access to information show a scientist at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans argued vigorously for a chance to do more research.

Kenneth Lee submitted a research proposal last December saying the matter requires further study because Enbridge's plan had "strong limitations due to inaccurate inputs."
"The Northern Gateway pipeline proposal lacks key information on the chemical composition of the reference oils used in the hypothetical spill models," wrote Lee, head of DFO's Centre for Offshore Oil Gas and Energy Research, or COOGER.

Lee sought approval to conduct a series of studies through to 2015, when final tests on the "toxic effects of reference oils to marine species" would be completed. That deadline suggests the results would come too late for the Northern Gateway review panel as it reviews the environmental impact of the pipeline. Its hearings end next April and the panel reports back to government by the end of next year.
Lee noted his research would also be used by the Canadian Coast Guard, the agency that would be in charge of overseeing a spill into Canada's waters.

He wrote the Coast Guard is "uncertain" whether traditional methods to contain an oil spill and clear contaminated water would be effective if deployed in a Northern Gateway spill.
The Fisheries Department did not respond to questions about whether Lee's group was given the go-ahead to do the research. Lee was informed this spring that his job and the research centre he runs is at risk of being eliminated as a result of federal budget cuts.

Reached by phone, Lee said he was not authorized to comment on the proposal but confirmed that he and his staff have been notified their positions are on a list of positions that could be cut.
"We were on an affected (position) list at one point. And we're still on that affected list, but COOGER will still exist."

Lee is an internationally renowned expert on oil spills and was tapped last year to join a U.S. scientific committee studying the aftermath of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Northern Gateway's twin pipelines would carry natural gas condensate to Alberta and diluted oilsands bitumen to Kitimat, B.C., where it would be transferred to tankers for export.
Opinions differ on whether a spill of diluted bitumen would react so dramatically differently from spills of other crudes.

Bitumen is oil extracted from oil sands. It's thick and heavy like molasses, though a diluted version is what would be moved through the Enbridge pipeline if the $6-billion project gets approved.
That's about all everyone — including Calgary-based Enbridge, the B.C. government, pipeline engineers, spill response experts and environmentalists — can agree on.

What they cannot agree on is whether characteristics believed to be associated with diluted bitumen — also known as dilbit — lead to higher risks of pipeline fractures and consequently, oil spills.
There is also no agreement on whether diluted bitumen behaves differently in water than conventional crude oil once it is spilled.

Ray Doering, manager of engineering with the Northern Gateway project, and Elliott Taylor, one of the company's oil spill experts, said a combination of factors, over time, will prompt diluted bitumen to get denser.

For example, when the lighter properties evaporate, the heavier stuff remains, so it may sink. Or turbulent water or wave action could cause it to sink. Or if the oil gets mixed with sand or sediment — like it probably would in a river or a stream, or close to a shoreline — then it would sink.
But both say that's true of all crude.

"The toolbox that is going to be put together for this project will start with the same type of equipment that you use for any type of oil spill because we know that initially, that behaviour is going to be just like any other crude oil," said Taylor, a marine geologist and oil spill response expert with Polaris Applied Sciences.
"If it gets into water it’s going to float, so you would use the same techniques as long as those techniques are effective and address the behaviour of the oil at that stage.

"If it does get heavier, as it weathers and picks up some of those sediments, whether that’s at the shoreline or in the river, we would still go after that." But the Natural Resource Defence Council, a U.S environmental group, argues dilbit has a higher acid concentration than conventional crude oil. It also maintains that even when diluted, dilbit is still more viscous than conventional crude. To keep the crude fluid, the pipeline transporting the product will then have to operate at a higher temperature, said policy analyst Anthony Swift.

"In general, higher temperatures increase the rate of chemical reactions," he said in an interview. "In addition to internal corrosion, a pipeline operating at higher temperature is also going to increase the rate of external corrosion."

Swift points to the July 2010 spill where an Enbridge pipeline rupture caused millions of litres of crude to spill into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board concluded the rupture was caused by cracks in the pipeline due to corrosion that wore away the pipeline's protective coating.

But what exactly caused the corrosion still needs to be thoroughly examined and until it is known, due diligence is needed, Swift said. "The real question is — and it's a question that hasn't been clearly evaluated by regulators — does the combination of higher acid content and higher pipeline operating temperature pose a long-term risk to pipelines due to internal corrosion?" he said.

Enbridge refutes all of the Natural Resource Defence Council's claims."We know from our own data that there are no higher levels of internal corrosion associated with diluted bitumen than there would be for any other type of conventional oil that we move," said Doering.

"There are no differences to external corrosion either because those conditions don't change."
Doering added that all products that move through a pipeline must be of a certain viscosity in order for it to be "pipelineable."

As a result, the temperature set for transporting diluted bitumen would be the same as for moving all other types of crude."It operates at normal temperatures because it has been diluted with condensate or diluant (light hydrocarbon product), so it has the same properties as conventional oil," he said.
"It doesn't need to operate at higher temperature and higher pressures."

A study done for Alberta Innovates Energy and Environment Solutions, a government-funded research and development agency, in 2011 appears to support Enbridge's claims. Jenny Been, a corrosion engineer, compared data for four types of dilbit crude with heavy, medium and light conventional Alberta crude oils.
Still, the B.C. government maintains that if a marine spill were to happen along the West Coast, diluted bitumen is more likely to sink than conventional crude oil. 

"A greater degree of difficulty is involved in recovering bitumen and more remediation is required should an unintended release occur, particularly once bitumen sinks into the water column or into soils," a technical analysis released by the government last month says. 

The National Transportation Safety Board's report on the 2010 Michigan spill also found that two days after the spill, the denser oil fractions had sunk to the bottom of the river bed, prompting Enbridge to clean it up by gathering up the bottom sediments and disposing them. 

In the spring of 2011, a reassessment still found a "moderate-to-heavy contamination of 200 acres (80 hectares) of the river bottom," the report said.Enbridge acknowledged that some properties in spilled diluted bitumen could eventually sink."Initially, it will have the same behaviour as conventional crude oil," Doering said. 

"Over time, the condensate — the diluant used to blend — can begin to evaporate and the property of the diluted bitumen becomes denser."

August 24, 2012

Transporting Canadian Bitumen

Transporting Bitumen from Canada is facing various challenges and pls read the article from The Globe & Mail

Gale-force winds. Thick fog. Crushing snow. Landslides. Waves the height of office buildings. The northern coast of British Columbia is a nexus of nasty elements that descend upon a place abundant in marine life - humpbacks, orcas, a buffet of shellfish - and coastal creatures, including the much-celebrated white Kermode bear, or spirit bear.
Interactive by Stuart A. Thompson
Illustrations by Matthew Bambach

No one denies the severity of the region, not least Enbridge, which has laid in place sophisticated plans to manage it, including tugboat support for tankers, new navigation aids and even an expensive tunnelling operation that would send pipe directly through a mountain, rather than around its landslide-prone slopes. The company's plans recently won a major stamp of approval from Transport Canada, which reviewed plans for the marine routes - where tankers would sail, how fast and under which conditions - and declared them sound. Yet those who live in the area say it is home to natural forces so violent.

Depending on the route, it will take between 10 and 16 hours for tankers to clear the inside waters connecting Kitimat to the open ocean. Oil tankers reach Kitimat's port using one of three routes: the southern approach , which navigates the Caamano Sound; a second southern approach , which crosses around Banks Island via the Principe Channel; and a northern approach . From there, tankers navigate the bends and turns of the Douglas Channel to reach the inlet at Kitimat.

The B.C. coast has abundant life, some of it unusual, some of it delicate, some of it threatened. Numerous marine mammals live in or go through the area that would be frequented by tanker traffic. Many of them are species of special concern to Canadians. Killer whales, fin whales, humpback whales, northern fur seals are all listed as threatened. Blue, sei and North Pacific right whales are endangered.

The region is globally important for marine birds. Land animals are also a concern. Apart from the wolves, bald eagles and other animals that live on the coast, tankers would pass parts of the Great Bear Rainforest, established in part to protect the range of the Kermode bear. The blond spirit bear, a subspecies of the black bear, is unique to this part of the world and numbers in the low hundreds.
Environment Canada, in its Marine Weather Hazards Manual, notes that "Hecate Strait is the fourth most dangerous body of water in the world." Wind gusts can reach 185 km/h - that's Category 3-hurricane strength, like Hurricane Ivan. Several times a winter, storm-force winds generate waves six to eight metres high - but waves can, on very rare occasions, reach a staggering 26 metres in Hecate Strait.
While conditions are substantially more moderate in narrower channels, the on-shore terrain the pipeline must cross is also vulnerable to extraordinary weather. In October, Caamano Sound is drenched in fog 20 per cent of the time. In winter, significant waves 3 1/2 metres high and greater occur 20 to 30 per cent of the time offshore, and 10 per cent along the coast.

A recent Transport Canada study concluded the water is deep enough and the passages are wide enough. But residents are concerned about the margin for error. In four places, the route goes through channels less than two kilometres wide. At a minimum, supertankers need nearly half a kilometre in width for safe travel. They need 33 metres in depth; in one area, the route passes over a spot 35 metres deep.
There is only one place in the entire series of coastal marine routes that can adequately accommodate proposed 320,000-deadweight-tonne supertankers. Kitimat Harbour does not meet minimum anchorage requirements, and would require tug support for supertankers. Another, called the Coghlan Anchorage, is "not suitable to anchor vessels of the design vessels size, on a single anchor," according to Enbridge documents.
Between 1999 and 2008, the routes Enbridge intends to use for Gateway tanker traffic experienced five major accidents in large vessels. Those include two "striking" accidents (where a ship contacts another object, like the shore or a dock), one instance of heavy weather damage, a grounding, and a grounding and a sinking. The latter is well-known: The Queen of the North lies buried deep in waters that supertankers would transit. It sank after hitting Gil Island in 2006. Two bodies were never found.

In 2009, the Petersfield, a bulk carrier sailing through Douglas Channel, also hit land after a failure in its navigation equipment. According to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, "the vessel sustained extensive damage." Supertankers, however, remain among the safest vessels on the seas. According to the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Ltd., the number of large oil spills declined from 79 in the 1970s to 17 in the past decade.

 Northwestern British Columbia is home to a seismically unstable landscape assaulted by incredible amounts of rain and snow - Kitimat, for example, averages 2,387 millimetres of precipitation a year. That often creates problems. A 2005 study found 38 "large, catastrophic landslides" in northern B.C. in three decades, and noted that "the frequency of large landslides in northern British Columbia appears to be increasing, suggesting a link to climate change." The study specifically names pipelines as a type of infrastructure "at risk from these large landslides."

Underwater earthquakes are another hazard, causing localized tsunamis that have been recorded along the B.C. coast. One in Kitimat Inlet, in April, 1975, produced an 8.2-metre-high wave.

The Disaffected Lib

    says... From pointing out that the Hecate Strait is considered the fourth most dangerous for navigation in the world to the proven perils and pitfalls posed to supertankers plying the Douglas Channel for the 10 to 12-hour trip needed to get from Kitimat to the open sea (Hecate Strait), the madness of this high-risk venture of virtually no benefit to British Columbia is obvious.    

August 22, 2012

Bitumen Terminal for Oman

1345548750960260500Plans are under way for the establishment of major terminals for cement and bitumen imports via the Port of Duqm.

Both facilities are indispensable to supporting the speedy and cost-effective development of the region’s ambitious Special Economic Zone (SEZ), according to a senior official of the port authority.
“We are finalising negotiations with a well-known Omani cement manufacturer for the development of a cement import terminal on the quayside at Duqm Port,” said Reggy Vermeulen, Commercial Director, Port of Duqm SAOC.

“At the same time, we are in discussion with one of the world’s leading producers of bitumen for the establishment of an import base for bitumen within the port. Both facilities will contribute to a dramatic reduction in the local cost of these strategic commodities in the Duqm SEZ, as well as significantly reduce the construction cost of projects involving the use of these commodities,” Vermeulen added in exclusive comments to the Observer.

A modern Cement Terminal with a 150,000-tonne annual throughput capacity is envisaged at a site along Duqm Port’s quay wall. The facility will be linked via a system of pipelines and conveyors to a roughly 4-hectare plot earmarked by the port authority for use by the investor for storage, bagging and other purposes. A culvert connecting the quay wall site with the adjoining plot is due to be ready by around the end of this year or early next year.

Vermeulen said the Cement Terminal project is distinct from another parallel venture linked to the planned development of a full-fledged cement manufacturing plant at Duqm. Talks are under way with a well-established cement producer for the establishment of the plant on a plot of land managed by the Port of Duqm, he said.

“There are discussions under way with a company that is keen to establish a cement plant, designed partly for export. The company wishes to build this plant in a manner that would allow them to export part of the output via our quay. Discussions are now focused on exploring the most ideal location for the cement plant in terms of its proximity to the quay wall, as well as to allow for expansion and development in the future,” the official stated.

Likewise, the Bitumen Terminal project is also expected to have important ramifications for Duqm’s rapid development, Vermeulen said. “A lot of road construction work is ongoing in Duqm and the wider Wusta Governorate, bitumen for which has to be trucked by road from Salalah and Sohar at enormous cost. With the establishment of an import terminal at Duqm Port, this much-needed commodity will become easily available, thereby easing the cost of projects involving the use of bitumen.”

The capacity of the Bitumen Terminal is still a matter of review by the investor. “Depending upon how concrete are the various projects envisioned at Duqm, the investor will then take a call on the capacity,” the official noted.

As with the Cement Terminal, Port of Duqm has also allocated a roughly 3-4 hectare site for use by the bitumen investor for storage and other activities. The quayside location of the Bitumen Terminal will be linked to the plot via a system of pipelines running underneath a culvert.

Both terminals are expected to be constructed and operational by around the end of 2013, Vermeulen said. “We are looking at a 12-month timeframe for the completion of the terminals after the handover of the culverts to the parties concerned, which will happen around the end of this year or early next year. Based on this timeline, the terminals are expected to be in operation by the end of 2013.”

Vermeulen also praised the Special Economic Zone Authority of Duqm (SEZAD) for its role in facilitating discussions aimed at attracting investors to the area. “SEZAD has been very helpful and supportive in creating a proper economic environment that makes the Special Economic Zone viable and profitable for players to come and invest in Duqm.” Port of Duqm launched its ‘Early Operations’ phase on August 12, 2012, designed to enable ships to bring project cargo for the oil and gas industry in the Wusta Governorate, as well as material for Duqm’s infrastructure and project development. A 300-metre section of the quay wall has already been operationalised for the berthing of ships.
Already two cargo ships have called Duqm since the start of ‘early operations’, with a third port call scheduled on August 27.

By C.Prabhu

August 13, 2012

Asphalt Event in Europe

The upcoming Asphaltica exhibition in the Italian city of Padova will be a major launch venue for new asphalt road technologies. The sixth edition of Asphaltica, the only European event dedicated to asphalt, bitumen and road infrastructure, will take place from 21 - 23 November 2012 at the PadovaFiere exhibition centre. This exhibition is an important meeting place for industry professionals wanting updates on the latest and most interesting technological and regulatory developments.

The show also gives industry professionals the chance to discuss foreign markets and future challenges. The event is aimed at engineers and professionals including those from contractors, public and private entities. The show also targets those involved in the management of road networks, as well as users of machinery, equipment, materials and technologies for the production of conglomerates. The Asphaltica 2010 event attracted 180 exhibitors and over 10,000 visitors and was organised jointly by PadovaFiere and the Italian Association of Asphalt Bitumen Roads (SITEB).

This event will feature a strong conference programme, as in the past, which is being organised by SITEB. Issues covered will be technological efficiency and sustainability, cost optimisation, environmental impact and safety of workers, road performance standards and their application. In addition, new for 2012 will be the Road Safety conference, which will cover all aspects from the road safety technology to the design of intelligent infrastructure.

Soruce - World Highways

August 11, 2012

Transport Minister's Concern on Shortage of Bitumen

The bitumen supply shortage is straining road maintenance in South Africa, and could lead to smaller projects, such as pothole repairs, being deferred to focus on major infrastructure projects, Transport Minister Ben Martins said this week.

The Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, as well as the N1 and N2 toll road projects could also be affected by the shortage of bitumen, which is used to produce asphalt for road construction.
Responding to a question by Congress of the People Eastern Cape Member of Parliament Zola Mlenzana, Martins stated that although there were no measures in place to alleviate the local shortage, the department had been engaging with the relevant stakeholders to find a sustainable solution.

“Various members of the Southern African Bitumen Association formed a consortium for importing bitumen and the Department of Transport provided support by recommending the relaxation of import duties on bitumen, while the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) is providing support with the logistics planning requirements to ensure that bitumen received at the ports is cleared with minimum delays,” he indicated.

Ndebele added that Sanral had also been in talks with the road construction industry to directly import bitumen from abroad.

“The success of this initiative will determine the future direction to be adopted with regard to direct importation of bitumen by the road construction industry,” the Minister said.

Meanwhile, Martins said although delays or shortages in bitumen supply had been identified, his department was not aware of instances where it impacted on the retention of jobs, or the creation thereof.
“The primary reason for the shortages is due to oil companies experiencing unplanned shut downs at the refineries or not having sufficient storage capacity to maintain minimum bitumen reserves during shutdowns,” the Minister pointed out.

Also contributing to the shortage was the fact that oil companies planned their maintenance shutdowns during the peak bitumen consumption periods, which rendered them unable to supply sufficient quantities of South African Bureau of Standards-specified grade bitumen.

Martins said it was also established that bitumen consumers, such as asphalting-producing companies, did not always collect their orders on time from the refineries.

Edited by: Mariaan Webb