David Lyall began his bitumen career in 1979 when recruited by Shell as a refinery technologist working with the economics of investments/production of special petroleum products. Between 1984 and 1988 he was closely involved with the creation of the integrated manufacturing/marketing organization Shell Bitumen UK. In the 1970’s he worked for the UK Department of Energy providing economic and statistical advice on downstream oil policy matters. Between 1970 and 1973 he worked for British Petroleum.
Lyall served as Eurobitume’s Director General for eleven years from 1993 to 2003. David’s efforts achieved strategic clarity on the complex issue of what is required to resolve the cancer classification for bitumen. Under his leadership, Eurobitume established a group of HS&E experts to evaluate the constant stream of environmental and regulatory issues and make recommendations for action. He established a network for all bitumen associations to facilitate the exchange of information and best practices across a diverse industry. Examples include the Refined Bitumen Association guidelines on the Safe Delivery of Bitumen, MSDS recommendations and their Safe Handling of Bitumen and Bitumen Bums leaflets. Lastly, an eco-profile of bitumen was written to permit greater understanding of the environmental impact of the material.
A second major pillar in Eurobitume’s mission— again lead by Lyall — is the “freedom and incentive to innovate.” While the first European standards lacked incentives for innovation, Lyall clearly saw the need for performance-based product standards. In achieving this goal, Eurobitume established a foundation of knowledge in their Rheology Workshop of 1995 and their Performance Properties Workshop of 1999.
David says that a third pillar for Eurobitume is “an industry image to attract new employees.” Given a foundation of a safe product utilized in accordance with manufacturer instructions, and a built-in incentive to develop and market new products, talented new workers will come. David’s work on the first two pillars, is definitely establishing a platform on which to accomplish the third.
During his tenure at Eurobitume, David has probably done more than any one individual to bring focus to the Eurobitume mission, and to generate tangible, lasting results. He accomplished this through his vision — openly and artfully communicated with others, through his strategic thinking — with a clear and focused understanding of the complexities of regulatory machinery both in Europe and elsewhere, and through his efforts to built consensus within Eurobitume.
Lyall continues to work within the asphalt industry as a consultant and is based in London.