Installation of essential reaction equipment has commenced at Gazprom Neft’s Omsk Refinery, part of initiatives to modernise the refinery’s delayed coking unit (DCU). This project will, for the first time, make possible the production of needle coke in Russia — a strategically important resource for the metallurgy, nuclear, chemical and space industries. Reconstruction of the DCU is one of the key initiatives forming part of the modernisation of the Omsk Refinery, under implementation by Gazprom Neft since 2008.
New coke drums, made of special bimetallic steel, have been produced by a domestic Russian enterprise. The equipment — weighing 600 tonnes in total — is being installed with the help of truck-mounted cranes (“boom trucks”). Three coke drums will make it possible to turn the heavy residues produced through advanced oil refining into a commercially marketable product. Construction is expected to be completed in 2020. On reaching planned capacity the DCU is expected to produce 38,700 tonnes of raw needle coke per year.
The plant modernisation project will also involve the replacement of furnace heaters, the construction of an additional tank farm, a distillation column for refining feedstock, and the implementation of automated control systems. As well as increasing conversion rate and increasing the light product yield, the modernisation of the DCU will significantly reduce the environmental impacts of production, thanks to the upgrading of the vapour recovery unit.
Anatoly Cherner, Deputy CEO for Logistics, Processing and Sales, Gazprom Neft, commented: “The modernisation of Gazprom Neft’s refining facilities is improving business efficiency and creating a growth opportunity for domestic industry. The country’s first needle coke facility will allow Russian carbon and graphite producers to significantly reduce their costs, as well as delivering a market-competitive product.”
Needle coke is an expensive and highly structured low-impurity carbon product used in the manufacture of top-grade graphite electrodes. It is used in the metallurgy, nuclear, chemical and space industries. Needle coke is currently imported mainly from Great Britain, Japan and the USA.
Gazprom Neft is currently involved in a full-scale modernisation programme at its Omsk and Moscow refineries, involving cumulative investment of more than RUB550 billion. The first stage of this modernisation has involved the construction and reconstruction of key technological facilities, allowing the complete transition to the production of Euro-5 fuels, significantly improving energy efficiency and environmental friendliness in production. The implementation of the second phase of the modernisation programme is now ongoing, as a result of which refining depth and the production of light petroleum products will increase to match the highest international standards.