ASTANA – In November, the Caspi Bitum plant exported its first 60 tonnes of road bitumen to China. But the first export experience for the company was in January 2017, when 650 tonnes of bitumen was delivered to Uzbekistan. In the nearest future, the enterprise wants to expand its supply destinations even more.
Caspi Bitum was founded in 2009 in Aktau, Mangystau Region. After four years of construction, the plant was put into operation in December 2013.
“It should be noted that our enterprise, Caspi Bitum, was incorporated as part of the State Programme of Accelerated Industrial and Innovative Development of Kazakhstan for 2010 to 2014 to meet the needs of the road industry in high-quality road bitumen. The main activity is processing oil to produce oxidised and modified road bitumen. The oil is supplied from Karazhanbas field through the KazTransOil oil pipelines system with a length of 220 kilometres,” said Caspi Bitum General Director Zhao Jingzhong.
The company is a joint operation of Kazakhstan and China and works closely with Kazakh Invest and the regional administration. Fifty percent belongs to Kazakhstan Petrochemical Industries, which is fully owned by KazMunayGas national oil and gas company; the other half belongs to CITIC Kazakhstan, which is a part of China’s CITIC Group.
CITIC Group is one of the largest investment companies in China, a multidisciplinary transnational corporation with activities covering a wide range of areas, including banking, securities, insurance, trust, funds, real estate, infrastructure construction, energy and engineering.
Since the plant’s launch, approximately 574,000 tonnes of quality bitumen have been produced, according to company. Consumers have no complaints about the quality of its manufactured products, but the company aims always to improve the quality of its production, added Jingzhong.
“We intend to expand our product range in the near future and begin production of polymer-modified bitumen with improved heat-frost and wear-resistant characteristics. The service life of such bitumen is several times higher. In addition, this material can be used in the construction of not only highways, but also runways,” he said.
The plant is expanding not only its export geography, but also the structure of its deliveries, sending products to market not only with railroads and tank trucks, but also supplying bitumen in cooled form, packaged in polymeric disposable transport containers of two types – big bags with capacities of up to 1,000 kilogrammes and bags with capacities of 40 kilogrammes.
China’s first batch of Caspi Bitumen was delivered using these bags, special disposable transport containers that allow bitumen to be transported and stored at any temperature.
“We, as an enterprise, have common goals we strive for – to continuously improve the technical autonomy, optimise technological processes, preserve our leading position in the industry and achieve a competitive advantage in the market. Our driving force to develop the enterprise will be a continuous increase of the management level, the formation of high productivity, the creation of conditions for the development of a healthy and professional team,” said Jingzhong.
According to him, Kazakhstan and China are at a key stage of development, and the bitumen plant is clear evidence of this.
The total cost of the project was $290 million. At the moment it employs more than 280 people. To improve the production process, the plant has introduced quality management, energy management, labour protection and environmental management.
The enterprise is capable of producing about 400,000 tonnes of oxidised and 120,000 tonnes of modified road bitumen per year, which, taking into account the capacities of other domestic producers, can completely cover the needs of Kazakhstan. Caspi Bitum products were used for the construction of the Western Europe-Western China international highway and the nationally important Shymkent-Kyzylorda, Astana-Pavlodar, Astana-Temirtau and Shetpe-Beineu highways.