The high-tech company that will not just produce European-quality fuel, but also meet European environmental standards

Interview with Moscow Oil Refinery CEO Arkady Yegizarian
Kommersant neft i gaz

Arkady Yegizarian

In late May, the Gazprom Neft Board of Directors approved a new 2025 corporate development strategy. The general strategic program includes plans for the modernization of the Moscow Oil Refinery, a project that will involve the investment of approximately 130 billion rubles over the next seven years. Moscow Oil Refinery ссылка откроется в новом окне CEO Arkady Yegizarian told us about how those funds are to be used, and how the project will affect environmental conditions in the Russian capital city.

— For many years, the residents of Kapotnya, Maryino, and Lyublino have been complaining ceaselessly about environmental conditions in their neighborhoods. What can we expect from the plant modernization program announced by Gazprom Neft?

— The Moscow Oil Refinery came under the control of Gazprom Neft in late 2010. And implementation of the largest-scale modernization program in the entire history of the refinery began as soon as early 2011. We set two main objectives for ourselves: raising product quality and improving radically the enterprise’s environmental performance in a very short time frame. We’ve gone a long way already toward achieving those goals. Just last year—nearly three years before the deadline set in the engine fuel quality technical regulations—we completely converted to the production of fuels that meet the Euro 4 standard. And in May of this year, once again advancing ahead of the technical regulations, we adapted our facilities for the production of grade 5 diesel fuel, and we will soon begin delivering Euro 5 gasoline to the market.

We already began producing high-environmental-grade fuel by renovating the existing production facilities. In order to produce Euro 5 gasoline, we face the task this summer of commissioning a catalytic cracking gasoline hydrotreatment unit and a light naphtha isomerization unit.

— And how is the refinery’s environmental performance doing?

— It’s already got substantially better. In planning operations that will have an environmental impact, we also follow current European technologies as a guide and constantly compare both our current and future performance indicators with those achieved in the West. This allows us to make decisions that may sometimes seem unexpected in the context of long-standing Russian practices, but they really work. For example, building closed-loop mechanical wastewater treatment facilities has helped us cut environmental emissions by 97 percent and the petroleum products content in wastewater by six times. After renovating one bitumen production unit and decommissioning an older unit, atmospheric emissions fell by 90 percent. And the people living close by immediately felt the difference: it became easier for them to breathe.

In the near future we expect to begin construction of yet another wastewater treatment facility. This will provide a higher degree of treatment of sewage water, which will result in 80 percent of the water used returning to process units. The enterprise’s water consumption will reduce by two thirds. The key step that will help us cut back the refinery’s sanitary protection zone to the enterprise’s boundaries is renovation of the sulfur production unit. The Moscow Oil Refinery is located in an industrial district of Moscow, and the refinery’s sanitary protection zone currently overlaps the sanitary protection zones of other enterprises as well as the Moscow Ring Road. This makes it difficult not only to measure the environmental impact of the Moscow Oil Refinery, but also to assess the effectiveness of our work to improve the environment. That is why the modernization program also introduces advanced emissions control systems.

— Recently Gazprom Neft adopted a short-term investment program for the Moscow Oil Refinery. How will the 50 billion rubles be spent during the next two years?

— This year, besides implementing the major investment projects of renovating the diesel fuel hydrotreatment unit and commissioning the catalytic cracking gasoline isomerization and hydrotreatment unit, we are beginning to build a bitumen modification unit. Next year, we will complete renovation of the primary crude oil refining unit, which will allow us to increase production of high-environmental-grade gasoline and diesel fuel. One of the largest projects is building a combined oil refining unit with a capacity of 6 million tons per year, slated for 2014. Four units producing high-octane gasoline components and summer and winter diesel fuel will be added to that complex. After launching it, the volume of oil refined each year will grow to 12 million tons. Further along, in 2016 we will begin construction of an advanced oil processing complex. Launching that complex will make it possible to achieve the target levels set in the modernization program for light petroleum products and oil conversion rate. Those figures will be 82 percent and 98 percent, respectively. New technologies will greatly improve energy efficiency. The complex will meet the refinery’s heating needs and will provide 40 percent of electric power it requires. Modernizing such an enterprise as this is a large-scale and long-term project.