November 2, 2012
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№ 10 (October 2012)

Moscow Refinery Goes Green

   The task of modernizing an oil refinery new standards requires the expenditure of much effort and funds. Moreover, it is one thing to do so at a relatively new plant, but a totally different thing, when the refinery is over 70 years old.

By Elena Zhuk

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   It means that problems inherited from its Soviet past have to be resolved. Especially if the refinery in questions is something like the Moscow Refinery, located in a densely-populated suburb of the city. Its residents are affected by air pollution and local authorities are always there to remind the refinery’s operators that measures must be taken to improve the situation. It is no coincidence then that, as part of its modernization program for 2020, Gazpromneft allocated a sizable sum – 130 billion rubles for the task and commenced works to improve the ecological situation around the factory almost as soon as Gazpromneft acquired it in 2010.

Upgrading the Bitumen Production

   In mid-September, the company announced the commencement of commissioning works at closed-cycle filtration systems and the reconstructed unit for the production of bitumen. In the case of the latter system, 3,177 million rubles were spent to modernize it, a task which has been completed in less than a year. According to the factory’s director, Akrady Egizaryan, emissions from the bitumen  unit should fall by 90 percent which will have an immediate positive effect on air quality in Kapotnya, the district where the plant is located. In addition, the use of closed-system pouring technology, will allow a 100 percent reduction in emissions from this process. “As a person, who spends a lot of time in Kapotnya, I can tell you that the air is not very pleasant breathe when the bitumen is being poured and loaded, from the small system,” confessed Egizaryan.

   The plan is to halt production at the older, smaller bitumen unit by October 2011 and that it will be totally decommissioned by the end of the following year. As a result of the system’s refurbishment, the refinery has been able to increase the daily volume of bitumen production from 3,200 to 5,000 tons, expand the bitumen product line and increase its quality. “The oxidation process has been altered, we will be using excess oxidation, which among other things will improve quality,” reported Vladimir Galkin, the executive director and supervisor of MNPZ’s modernization and operational enhancement project.

   In addition to that, Arkady Egizaryan reports, the prospect of joint production of modified bitumen is being discussed with the Total company, which will use a high-tech compound developed by the French company. Production operations with an estimated $10 million turnover are expected to be unrolled at the larger bitumen unit. Of the expected 60,000 tons annual product volume, 30 percent of the bitumen will be produced according to GOST with the remaining 70 percent to be the modified type using the Total compound. According to Egizarian, this product will improve the longevity of road surfaces four- to sixfold. Vladimir Galkin had said meanwhile,  “The use of such bitumen types has already been tested at the Omsk Refinery, but Total’s formula is more effective.” He added that the company has already produced some of this bitumen in Poland and it has been trialled on a one kilometer stretch of the “Krym” highway. MNPZ is currently conducting expert tests of the new technology.

Highly Efficient Wastewater Treatment

   Quality improvements in water run-off as well as atmospheric emissions are expected at the district adjacent to the MNPZ. New filtration facilities will minimize harmful discharges by 97 percent and reduce the crude oil content of run-off sixfold. The project employs equipment produced by the Petreco company. According to their technical specifications, industrial run-off is first subjected to deep a cleansing process, designed to remove technological residues and pulp after which they are fed into the chemical and mechanical scrubbing module, where an array of separators, sumps and filters (the latter employing nut shells) are used to further cleanse the water. The run-off is then forwarded, depending on its constituency, to either the Kuryanovskaya aeration complex or to the additional purification module, which employs 10 activated carbon sorption filters. The plant’s technicians describe the process as follows: “Everything that is captured as a result (foam, oil sludge) is then fed into centrifuges, which allow a three-phase separation of the waste matter. These are; clean water, crude oil, which is returned to the refinery for processing and oil sludge, or ‘coke’ as it is also known, whose carbon chain content is near to zero and which is subsequently subjected to treatment with biological agents with the aim of disposal in landfill.” As Arkady Egizaryan noted,  “The problem with the old facilities was that they had too many open surfaces, which allowed the hydrocarbons to simply evaporate into the atmosphere. The technological cycle we employ these days involves closed reservoirs.” The new equipment will be commissioned for use in November and as he said, “The people of Kapotnya will really feel the difference.” After the old filtration facilities are dismantled, the land they were located in will again be used for agriculture. There is also a plan to implement a final reverse-osmosis purification stage with prior biological or chemical scrubbing, to reduce the plant’s water consumption (for the purposes of feeding run-off) by 70 percent.

   In conjunction with other projects, the commissioning of these installations will allow the refinery to reduce the exclusion zone around it, which is important under the existing conditions of the city’s expansion around it. As a result of the complex ecological measures, among which are such things as the refurbishment of sulphur production at the refinery, the installation of sulphur-carrying run-off treatment and the final purification system, setting up a natural gas supply to the plant, as well as decontamination of crude oil contaminated lands, on which the refinery plans to spend 14 billion rubles by the year 2014. These measures will collectively result in the release of 500 hectares of land in the Kapotnya district for other uses.

Set the Bar High

   The presence of shiny new installations on almost all of the plant’s production sites contrasts sharply with the rust-stained old equipment there and is testimonial to the fact that the modernisation project is in full swing. In April this year, the Moscow Refinery has, ahead of schedule, begun production of Euro-4 standard petrol. Currently, apparatuses for the isomerization of light naphtha, hydrotreater and catalytic cracking units are being installed, whose commissioning in the spring and summer of 2012 will allow residents of the district to refuel with Euro-5 petrol. This will have a definite positive effect on air quality. MNPZ produces around 40 percent of crude oil based products used in the Moscow region, of which around 10 percent is diesel and petrol. An installation of a hydrotreater system for diesel is planned for next year, bringing the plant’s diesel product up to Euro-5 standard. It is expected, that the refinery will reach the 90 percent level of crude oil purification and based on current indicators, has the chance to achieve all its goals and attain a higher position in the ratings of high-technology Russian oil refineries.

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