The Soaring Oil prices although justifies the fluctuation in the pricing of bitumen, there is not an established mechanism to derive the bitumen price till date. The bitumen market is getting mature and liquid. The majority of the exporting nations include Singapore, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Thailand in this region has different inputs and the range varies significantly.
Recently the Cartel led by Shell was exposed by the European regulators and the was fined to the tune of price fixing on various petroleum products.
For Bitumen, there are no posted prices except for some compiled prices from some paid subscription services ; marketers rely on a number of pricing formulas that reference various posted crude qualities.
Market pricing is seasonal with higher prices during peak season like summer being the norm due to higher demand for bitumen and other bitumen derived products.
Saudi arabia has almost banned the export of Bitumen 60/70 , which considered as the raw material, obtained from the fractional distillation process, from Saudi Aramco . The penetration grade bitumen 80/100, prepared from the aforesaid raw material by adding additives, is the value added , before being exported. The price sensitive Saudi bitumen industry, an unorganized industry, commands the most market value among the third world countries including India, Pakistan and Bagladesh.
On the Other hand, Iran is trying to sell the bitumen through Iran Mercantile Exchange, as a commodity and the pricing currency is being slowly shifting in favrour of Euro.
Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, although except for Singapore, the rest of the regional economies , being net importer, the pricing is closely followed with each other, and which is not affordable for re-export for the developing nations.
By necessity, bitumen is regularly blended with diluent (typically in the form of C5+ or synthetic light crude) in order to facilitate its transportation via pipeline to tankers.
As such, the effective field price for bitumen is also directly impacted by the input cost of the diluent required, the demand and price of which is also seasonal in nature (in winter as colder temperatures necessitate more diluent for transportation).
Consequently, bitumen pricing is notoriously high in summer and during major shutdown by the refineries and not reflective of the annual average realized price or the economics of the business overall.
The strong bitumen demand disturbs the effective field prices during peak season for a variety of reasons. In addition to the usual seasonal issues, increase in bitumen demand and the premium for diluent was significant as a consequence of various events such as production interruptions at a regional refinery.
With billions of barrels of potential and billions of dollars of planned capital investment, the bitumen resources are widely understood to be a cornerstone of future energy requirements and are attracting notable attention from overseas jurisdictions as well.
In fact, the adoption of the proposed methodology for all crude qualities would have little or no effect on reported proved reserve quantities for all categories, bitumen excepted. For no other reason than bitumen alone is subject to the extreme seasonality in realized prices around calendar.
Some industry watchers propose to determine the constant price for bitumen by using, for the benchmark reference price, the published price for the crude oil after applying historical adjustments for transportation and for quality, which create the price differential between crude oil and bitumen.