Bitumen – commonly used in road construction and maintenance – is now more widely available to the Western Cape market as a result of a partnership agreement between sustainable hydrocarbon solutions provider FFS Refiners and Rubis Asphalt South Africa.
The agreement has already resulted in the arrival of the first bulk bitumen import into land-based tanks, arriving on March 3, at the Cape Town Harbour.
Prior to FFS Refiners setting up land-based tanks for direct offload, bitumen was offloaded from the shipping vessel using a mobile gantry into a truck tanker or bitutainer.
Now, FFS Refiners says, it provides Rubis with reliable and safe bitumen storage and handling under a 12-month agreement, which includes the rental of 4 700 m3 of tank storage at FFS Refiners’ facility in the Port of Cape Town.
“We believe this is the start of a great partnership, which we hope will last for years to come. This discharge marks the first time that we’re discharging directly into these tanks from the vessel Viveka from the Eastern Mole quayside.
“With current shifts in the petrochemicals landscape in South Africa, we are ready to rise to any occasion,” says FFS Marine business divisional manager Wilhelm Wasserman.
FFS Refiners specialises in various hydrocarbon solutions, operating in the fields of industrial energy, base oils, marine fuels, waste recovery, coal-derived products and tank terminals, such as those rented by Rubis Asphalt South Africa.
Rubis Asphalt commercial manager Mark Simonsen says the company is delighted to ensure security of supply of bitumen in South Africa.
“South Africa has a world-class national road network, and our product helps ensure this infrastructure can be extended and maintained,” he says.
Further, Simonsen comments that Rubis is importing with “peace of mind”, knowing that FFS is handling the viscous material in a way which is safe, economical and compliant with the relevant regulations.
“Offloading bitumen is no simple task. Before you can even think about discharging the fluid, standard operating procedures must be followed. Pipelines must be heated, and pressure tested. Independent surveyors undertake quality assurance on the product, and our team works with the vessel captain to ensure a smooth process.
“We have dedicated teams who work together to ensure that health, safety and compliance is top of mind. We are proud to be custodians of this important product for Rubis,” Wasserman adds.
“This 12-month agreement is a great addition to our marine services division and we hope to see more opportunities such as this in the future.
“To this end, we plan to expand to Durban, where work has started on new bulk storage tanks for bulk bitumen imports. With this move, we hope to be in time to support the industry through what is anticipated to be a difficult supply environment,” Wasserman points out.