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Infrastructure development mega-plan – mega-business for neighbours: Romania must import 1.8 million tons of bitumen
de Razvan Diaconu , 21.9.2020
Romania’s big re-launch plan for the next decade places transport infrastructure at the centre of investments, with an allocation of 60% of the total amount. In addition to the money from the European re-launch mechanism, there are also European funds for infrastructure and money from the national budget.
The larger the development plan, the higher the imports: from the current need for asphalt bitumen, Romania produces only 20%: the entire quantity needed for the next decade highway mega plan will be important from neighbours.
3,000 km of highway = 1.8 million tons of bitumen
3,000 km highway must be paved and that alone requires 1,800,000 tons of bitumen.
Romania currently produces less than 10% of this quantity annually. The rest of the quantity, in order to have highways, must be imported.
Bitumen needed, calculated by industry
Romanian Association of Road Builders (ARCA) has made available to cursdeguvernare.ro the evaluation of bitumen consumption for 1 kilometre of highway built based on the technical norms for designing, building and modernising roads.
The calculations made by ARCA show consumption of 10,200 tons of asphalt mixtures per kilometre of highway (asphalt carpets set out in road systems for highways are composed of 3 layers – base, connection and wear), and for the bitumen contained in these mixtures a consumption of about 500 – 600 tons of bitumen for 1 km of highway.
This means that for the new 3,000 km of highway we will need 1.8 million tons of bitumen.
Current needs are added to this (the quantity needed for the annual restoration of asphalt carpets in localities or the existing national road network) which, according to specialists, amount to 500,000 tons per year.
One producer – which covers only 20% of the current demand, without the investments from the Recovery Plan
Natural bitumen, impregnated with sand, is mined in Romania in Bihor and Prahova.
Bitumen is also obtained artificially, by oxidizing the waste left after the distillation of oil from the fuel resulting from the primary distillation of high-quality crude oil.
The only company that still does this in Romania is Rompetrol Rafinare (part of KMG International, former Rompetrol Group), at Vega Refinery in Ploiesti. The other companies that were still producing bitumen – Arpechim and Suplacu de Barcau – were closed.
The internal annual production of bitumen, according to the experts in the field interviewed by cursdeguvernare.ro, is 120,000 tons, out of the annual quantity needed for current works of 500,000 tons.
Romanian strategic plan – good news for Hungary, Poland, Serbia and Bulgaria
- Romania’s annual bitumen production is 120,000 tons
- the consumption needed in the road infrastructure is currently 500,000 tons per year.
- the start of the major infrastructure program will require another surplus of about 200,000 tons per year.
Theoretically, after the launch of the construction program for the 3,000 km of highways, the bitumen need will increase by 200,000 tons per year.
This means a total of 700,000 tons, of which the domestic production can cover 120,000 tons.
The difference – 580,000 tons per year – will be covered by imports. Who are the bitumen importers:
- Polish group PKN Orlen (which is not an oil producer) today covers at least 25% of the Romanian demand, according to market information.
- Hungarian MOL group, also not an oil producer, ensures about 20% of imports.
- Bitumen imports also come to Romania through the Russian chain: from Serbia, from Gazprom branch, and from Bulgaria, from Lukoil branch.
- OMV Petrom (SNP) has given up bitumen production and sold most of its assets from Arpechim Pitesti, and now resells bitumen purchased from OMV subsidiaries abroad, especially in Hungary.