Shell eyeing 6-10% sales volume growth for bitumen

At a glance

  • Importation data within first quarter this year would show that Shell is the leading player in the bitumen industry with a comfortable market share of about 41% - and that is the extent of industry leadership that it is keen on sustaining on a full-year basis.

With the robust infrastructure development buildout being cast by the government, Shell  Pilipinas Corporation is eyeing brisk growth of 6.0 to 10-percent for its bitumen volume sales across major projects that it will be supplying to.

In a briefing with reporters, Shell Country Business Manager for Construction and Road Sector Allan C. Canedo indicated that the target for Shell is to ramp up its bitumen sales within 40-45 kilotons (kt) scale from last year’s leaner level of roughly 36kt.

He qualified that Shell has been supplying bitumen products to project-contractors, and not directly with the government or the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Within first quarter this year, importation data would show that Shell is the leading player in the bitumen industry with a comfortable market share of about 41% - and that is the extent of industry leadership that it is keen on sustaining on a full-year basis.

Canedo, nevertheless, acknowledged the tough competition it is facing with other industry players – primarily Petron Corporation which logged the highest sales last year, as well as the market foothold also being seized by other players, such as that of Unioil and Phoenix Petroleum Philippines Inc.

The Shell executive specified that the bitumen solutions they are ready to supply to clients would include Shell’s bitumen Freshaire, polymer modified bitumen (PMB) as well as Instapave bitumen; while there are also solutions that they can dangle as niche solution to buildings.

Shell-trademarked bitumen FreshAir, in particular, is commercially supplied by Shell to many road projects – and seen as a key advantage of that solution is its ability to reduce emissions of specific gases during construction and paving, hence, that is hailed as an environment-friendly solution in the construction industry.

For its polymer modified bitumen product, that is typically used for high-end and major infrastructure projects, such as airports, elevated expressways and even F1 grand prix circuits all over the world.

Canedo asserted that “all of our Asian neighbors are using polymer modified bitumen in their airports, it’s used in the F1 track in Singapore, it’s also used for major thoroughfares in China and even for elevated skyways in Malaysia and Thailand.”

In the Philippines, he emphasized that while there was already a mandate on PMB utilization since 18-19 years ago, this has not been widely enforced yet, except for a few private sector-led ventures.

“We’re not using it (polymer modified bitumen) – we don’t know why, probably because many roads in the Philippines started to be on cement,” he stressed.

Onward, the opportunity being seen by Shell in that space is the recent pronouncement from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) that it will already mandate the use of PMB for all airport-developments in the country.

“CAAP has notified that most of the products for international airports will use polymer modified bitumen – for the reason that it is already a requirement under the FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) guidelines,” he expounded.

Canedo conveyed that the projects they are setting their sights on include the Sangley Airport project in Cavite; road improvements and expansion in Mindanao as well as the proposed Bataan-Manila bridge.

On Instapave, which is a cold-mix application in the bitumen product suite of Shell, the company executive stated that this will be used as ‘overlay’ for road projects – including the new builds as well as the expansion projects.

Canedo said their biggest market for bitumen products has been Mindanao with 80% share; followed by Visayas with 70% pie in the market; while it is a leaner fraction that it has been cornering in Luzon due to very stiff competition with the other players.

Shell vouched that among the projects massively supported by their bitumen products include the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) in Cebu, Palawan and Davao circumferential roads; as well as the paved roads in Baguio, Kennon Road and Naguilian, La Union in Northern Luzon.