The existing delayed coking unit (DCU) at the Gazprom Neft Omsk Refinery is to undergo reconstruction. Technological modernisation of the facility will increase the efficiency of the DCU and create Russia’s first production facility for needle coke, a valuable highly structured carboniferous raw material used in the metallurgical, nuclear, chemical and space industries. The DCU reconstruction project envisages the production of 38,700 tonnes of raw needle coke per year. Further along the processing chain it will be sent to the petroleum coke calcination facility, from which the finished product will be produced. Production of anode coke (used in metallurgy) will continue alongside the production of needle coke. Project design is being handled by Giprogazoochistka Engineering Company. Gazpromneft Bitumen Materials, operator of the Gazprom Neft bitumens business and responsible for the sale of bitumens and cokes, will be providing expert support on the project in line with recent market research, as well as being responsible for the sale of finished products.
The capacity of the current DCU at the Omsk Refinery is 767,000 tonnes of raw materials per year. The DCU reconstruction project falls within the remit of the second stage of the large-scale modernisation of the company’s refineries, directed at increasing refining depth, increasing output of light petroleum products, and improving the operational efficiency of the plants. Gazprom Neft’s total investment in the DCU modernisation project at its Omsk Refinery will be more than RUB5.2 billion.
In addition to increasing the refining depth of heavy oil residues, the modernisation of the DCU will significantly improve the facility’s environmental performance: due to the deep cleaning of the coking gas, environmental impacts will be reduced by 75 percent. The DCU modernisation project meets all current industrial safety standards, and includes the construction of a new explosion-proof control room. In addition to which, the facility will be equipped with automatic gas analysis resources and fire extinguishers, as well as an automated steam supply system.
Reconstruction of the facility, built in 1971, envisages the complete replacement of three coke drums — the key equipment in the DCU. New coke drums, made of bimetallic steel, and manufactured at the Volgogradneftemash factory, will be equipped with a sliding (opening-closing) valve system. Construction of an additional storage facility is planned for the needle coke produced, as well as a column for the treatment of secondary raw materials. Installation of large-size equipment for the DCU is scheduled for 2018.
Needle coke is an expensive and highly structured carbon product with a low metal and sulphur content, used in the manufacture of graphite electrodes. Its properties make needle coke appropriate for use in the production of electrodes requiring low electrical resistance and low coefficient for thermal expansion. It is used in the metallurgy, nuclear, chemical and space industries. The production of these electrodes was previously possible only through the use of imported raw materials.
The first experimental batch of needle coke from the Omsk Refinery was obtained in 2015, it not having been produced in Russia prior to that. In 2015, the Omsk Refinery, together with Gazpromneft-Bitumens and specialists from the Ufa State Petroleum Technological University, conducted a pilot test to produce a trial batch of 1,000 tonnes of needle coke.