New GOST standard for bitumens will result in problems with road construction

Новый ГОСТ битумов повлечёт проблемы в дорожном строительстве

The introduction of the new standard for road bitumens quality as of September 2016 can result in significant deficiency of this product in the market and problems with road construction starting from 2017 already. According to the Minutes of the outdoor meeting held by Ministry of Energy in Saint-Petersburg, the Russian oil refineries are not ready to produce road bitumen under new standards.

The new bitumen standard GOST 33133-2014 was introduced by the Eurasian Economic Commission as of 29 December 2015. It will be effective as of 1 September 2016. Production of bitumens under this GOST is volunteer, although the compliance with this standard can be a condition for participation in “Rosavtodor” and “Avtodor” tenders for bitumen supplies.

According to the Minutes of the outdoor meeting held by Ministry of Energy in Saint-Petersburg in April this year (Interfax keeps its copy), the Russian oil refineries are not ready to produce road bitumen under the new standards. The oil companies discussed a lot the feasibility of introduction of new requirements at the meeting, as well as a lack of a transient period, when it could be possible to upgrade bitumen production facilities to meet the new standards.

According to “Rosneft”, the new standard represents inflated requirements to the quality of oil-based road bitumen, which are not related to the road safety. The Company has proposed to keep both the old and the new GOST standards in the list of standards.

“Bashneft” has proposed to evaluate technical capabilities of bitumen production under new standards based on the not very favourable market conditions, time required to upgrade existing bitumen production facilities, their cost-effectiveness and payback. The Company has also proposed to determine a transient period until the beginning of 2018, during which both standards could be applied.

“LUKOIL” reported at the meeting that it has closed production of bitumens under old standards at Permnefteorgsintez, and now it considered options of arrangement of bitumen production under the new standard at “LUKOIL-Nizhegorodnefteorgsintez” and “Volgogradneftepererabotka”.

Gazprom Neft reported to the meeting participants that it would launch the production of bitumens under the new GOST standard only in Q1 2017 at “Omsky NPZ”. The launch of production of new bitumens at “Moskovsky NPZ” and “Slavneft-YANOS” is only at the stage of study.

Based on the calculations of the Ministry of Energy, total investments needed for the companies to upgrade bitumen production facilities, will comprise at least 2.5 billion roubles. Meanwhile, the requirements of the new GOST to the storage temperature and bitumen transportation, as well as to the change of its weight and temperature after ageing do not influence compliance with the requirements to the roadbed and road safety.

“Low economic attractiveness of implementation of the projects for upgrading of bitumen production facilities caused by sinking demand, lack of confirmed volumes of demand, clear cut seasonality and low actual utilization ratio of existing capacities (less than 50%), as well as reduction of technical capabilities of refineries for bitumen shipment and of transportation and logistics companies for its delivery, will likely result in a change of the refinery basket and suspension of bitumen production facilities” — the authority points out in the materials.

Based on the results of the meeting, the Ministry of Energy has proposed to apply to Mintrans once again with the request to analyse the volumes of demand for bitumen in Russia, including the bitumen under the new standards, as well as to review a possibility to use both standards. The department also considers that it is feasible to take into account the situation in the market, necessary investment volumes, change of the production capabilities, time of completion of the upgrade of production facilities and change of a cost of production of new bitumens.

A source that is aware of the meeting course, reported that as of that day, the Novoshakntinsky Refinery can produce bitumen under the new standards. The refinery built a bitumen facility in 2014 and currently tries to ensure its loading. The Novoshakntinsky Refinery is also a part of the non-profit partnership “Rosbitum” that actively lobbied introduction of the new GOST. Vertically-integrated oil companies that produce 90% of Russian bitumen are not included in “Rosbitum”.

The editorial body has the letters of the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service of the Russia Federation and the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of the Russian Federation that also did not support this initiative of the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation.

For instance, the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service supports the proposal on using both old and new standards, as it can restrict the range of the bitumen market participants.

The Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of the Russian Federation also opposes these decisions that have not been well studied. According to the Ministry, the risks of groundless and significant expenses for the refinery upgrade exist.

Source: «Interfax»

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