Shell is to buy Hong Kong-based bitumen producer Koch Materials China in a move that will make it one of the key suppliers in the country’s rural road construction project, the South China Morning Post reported. The acquisition of the company, for an undisclosed sum, will boost Shell’s bitumen capacity in China by 175% as it assumes control of six plants producing 4,200 tonnes of the material a day. It already has five plants with a combined output of 2,400 tonnes a day. The road-building scheme is expected to support an annual growth in bitumen demand of at least 7% over the next few years. Shell has invested US$3.5 billion in China, US$500 million of that coming during 2005. Its largest operation is a US$4.3 billion petrochemical plant joint venture with China National Offshore Oil Corp in Daya Bay.