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Hisingen in Gothenburg is where asphalt is made for a new road surface on Inchbonny Bridge in Scotland.
Every year, Swedish oil producer Nynas exports large quantities of bitumen to Europe. Bitumen is an oil product that is mixed with crushed stone to create asphalt. It is used, for instance, to surface roads in Scotland. The journey begins at a refinery near the Port of Gothenburg.
From oil to bitumen
Bitumen is made from imported crude oil. It is pumped from tanker vessels in the Port of Gothenburg to the Nynas refinery where it is distilled to create various products. At the very top of the distillation tower, lighter oil products are extracted, such as petrol and diesel. Lower down it is the heavier products that are extracted, and at the very bottom are the residues – bitumen.
Bitumen is pumped from the refinery to the dock via a network of pipes.
The pipes must be at a minimum of 170 degrees C so the product flows easily.
In the Port of Gothenburg, the bitumen is pumped directly on board the tanker ship. The vessel is almost 110 metres long and can carry 6000 cubic metres. The ship is heated so that the bitumen does not coagulate during the voyage.
The ship with its cargo of bitumen sails to Dundee in Scotland.
The ship sails at 12 knots and the trip across the North Sea takes one and a half days.
The Port of Dundee lies on the east coast of Scotland. Here the ship ties up to the pier just below Nynas's own depot. The bitumen is then delivered via heated pipes from the ship directly to the depot.
From the port in Dundee the bitumen is transported by tanker trucks to end-customers.
At the customer, the bitumen is mixed with crushed stone to form asphalt.
The finished asphalt is applied to roads in Scotland. One example is this bridge outside Jedburgh, about an hour south of Edinburgh.
A climate-smart route
The bitumen cargo travels 1030 kilometres. All told, 28 kg of carbon dioxide is emitted per tonne of bitumen during transport. 83 per cent of the trip takes place by climate-smart sea freight. The total carbon dioxide emission from transport of the bitumen to the road construction site in Scotland corresponds to the emissions from one month of traffic on that same road.
If the bitumen had been transported by truck, it would only have made it one-third of the journey for the same carbon dioxide emissions. Which means a road in Roskilde, Denmark, would have had a nice new surface – while Jedburgh would wait forever for its road.