Developing catalyst production
Gazprom Neft is developing a modern production facility — part of a government «National Project» — to produce catalysts for secondary refining processes, ensuring the industry’s freedom from imports.
Catalysts are substances that accelerate a sequence of key chemical reactions. They form part of virtually all secondary refining processes. Currently, however — depending on the type of catalyst in question — Russia’s refining industry depends on imports for 70 to 100 percent of the catalysts it needs.
Russia does not currently produce any hydrocracking catalysts; domestic industry meets only one third of demand for catalytic-cracking (cat-cracking) catalysts; and the quality of Russian-produced diesel hydrotreatment catalysts does not allow production of Euro 5-standard products.
In the meantime, as Russia’s oil-refining industry continues to upgrade and modernise, it needs ever more catalysts. Gazprom Neft’s Omsk Refinery already produces about 3,000 tonnes of cat-cracking catalysts compliant with international quality standards: but that is not enough to meet demand on the Russian market. This initiative to develop Gazprom Neft’s catalyst business is intended to secure Russian refining’s independence from foreign catalyst producers.
This project, which has been awarded national status by the Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation, envisages the construction of a new cutting-edge production facility in Omsk, capable of producing 4,000 tonnes of hydrotreatment catalysts, 2,000 tonnes of hydrocracking catalysts and 15,000 tonnes of cat-cracking catalysts, every year. Total production capacity will more than meet Russian refineries’ requirements for secondary processing catalysts.
Production at the Omsk catalyst facility is designed around a «full technology life cycle», with both active catalyst components and catalyst carriers being produced at a single plant — to which end, the company has put in place a supply chain of potential feedstock component suppliers , all of them domestic producers.
Cutting-edge automated control systems and equipment will allow flexibility in modifying catalyst composition, meaning products can be adapted in line with client requirements. The company’s own analytical laboratory and engineering centre will be used to ensure quality control.
Russia’s first pilot cat-cracking facility — allowing catalysts involving different kinds of feedstocks to be tested, as well as the optimum modes and conditions for using these — is already in operation as part of the Engineering Centre.
The research-equipment facilities in place at Gazpromneft-Catalytic Systems’ engineering centre (responsible for implementing the project) will also include pilot facilities for testing hydrotreatment and hydrocracking catalysts.
Investment in this new high-tech catalyst production facility stands at more than RUB 30 billion. The project has been endorsed by the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation, through a special investment contract. Construction of the complex is expected to be complete by 2021.
Support from the scientific community
Gazprom Neft is developing innovative catalyst production technologies in partnership with leading Russian specialist research institutes. The Boreskov Institute of Catalysis (part of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS, Novosibirsk)), in particular, is closely involved in the National Project, and is developing technologies to produce hydrogenation-process catalysts.
The Institute of Hydrocarbon Processing (Siberian Branch, RAS) is developing new and fine-tuning existing technologies to produce cat-cracking catalysts, in conjunction with Gazprom Neft.
Thanks to its collaboration with Russian science and technology institutions Gazprom Neft is able to undertake the entire process cycle in product testing — from selecting the best laboratory prototypes, to running industrial tests.Gazprom Neft catalysts — and corresponding production technologies — are protected by more than 45 Russian and international patents.
Gazprom Neft successfully tested the first domestic hydrotreatment catalyst at the Omsk Refinery, and began commercial production of advanced cat-cracking catalysts, in 2018.
Together with universities and specialist catalysis research institutions, Gazprom Neft is training qualified personnel to be subsequently be responsible for implementing this challenging innovation project for the company.