Bitumens have been extensively used for years in road paving, roofing and industrial applications, making them perceived as commodity materials by most stakeholders.

However, bitumen production has changed significantly over the past two decades. Refining processes have adapted to this new context as well as to changes in fuel demand, technical progress and economic pressures. This constantly changing context not only has made bitumen a specialty product for oil companies but an even more complex material with chemical composition and properties more dependent on the crude oil source and process.

Bitumen Challenges

During our research and investigations we found already in the year 2012 that Shell Bitumen believes (as we do) that challenges will impact the road construction industry in a number of ways:

  • Demand: More roads will be needed, cities will require further mobility, infrastructure budgets will remain constrained and prices may become increasingly volatile.
  • Conventional oil supply: Due to a variety of technological and market factors, refinery to obtain. Crude oil inputs to refineries may become more variable with the decline of conventional feedstocks, thus impacting product quality.
  • Climage stress: Governments globally can be expected over time to increase regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to impacting large emitters such as the refineries that produce road bitumen, the fossil fuels used by road contractors are also likeliy to be subject to some form of carbon tax.

(Source: www.shell.com, 21.05.2012)
 

Translation: Key Words

More Roads Demand = higher Bitumen
Conventional Supply Future = less conventional
Refinery crude variabitrty = Product variabiltiy
Market & Technical Factors Quatrty = Low Cost Product
(Product) difficult to obtain = Less Product available

 

Two years later we have found and excellent article of Jean Pascal Planche, which neatly summarises the more recent developments in our industry.

Jean-Pascale Planche

University of Wyoming, Laramie
Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering
PhD
Bitumens have been extensively used for years in road paving, making them perceived as commodity materials by most road stakeholders. However, bitumen production has changed significantly over the past two decades. Refining processes have adapted to this new context as well as to changes in fuel demand. This evolving context not only has made asphalt/bitumen a specialty product for oil companies but an even more complex material with chemical composition and properties more dependent on the crude oil source and process.

Article, July 2014 – more information about Jean-Pascale Planche

We couldn't agree more! Now it is time to act...

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