This autumn, a new production complex of the multi-industry holding (TAIF) will be able to convert oil residues — vacuum residue and mazut — into diesel fuel meeting Euro-5 standard and straight-run gasoline.
'It's like the launch of a spacecraft with a human being inside. We have no right to make a mistake' Albert Shigabutdinov, head of TAIF commented on the commencement of the start of the Heavy Residue Conversion Complex commercial operation during the meeting with the partners - KBR T&C, USA. The licensor of the core technology headed by its President John Derbyshire arrived in Kazan to meet with the top managers of the companies forming TAIF Group and to discuss all issues of the forthcoming autumn launch of this ambitious project, which will make the refining process almost waste-free. A correspondent of Realnoe Vremya online newspaper observed the negotiations.
Harder of The Hardest
‘We knew that the project would not be an easy one and we were ready for it. However it turned out to be even more difficult than we had expected' Albert Shigabutdinov, head of TAIF said at the beginning after welcoming the American delegation of KBR T&C, the licensor of the Veba Combi Crañking (VCC) process. This process is the core technology of the Heavy Residue Conversion Complex of TAIF-NK PSC. This project will be the first of its kind in Russia and the largest VCC-based plant globally. Recently, the construction of two smaller pilot plants with much lower feedstock processing capacity designed on the basis of the same technology was completed in China.
'I wanted to start with the same point, i.e the complexity of the VCC Unit' John Derbyshire, the President of KBR T&C responded. His company with a total headcount of 27 000 employees operating in more than 70 countries globally is one of the largest companies in the world in the field of engineering, procurement and construction. The company traces its roots back to the times when motor cars were rarity and telegraph was the primary tool of communication.
Today, KBR T&C actively participates in the largest and most innovative global-scale projects that are often implemented in remote areas with severe natural conditions.
'When I visited Kazan two years ago, oil price was USD 127 per barrel. So, the changes are dramatic. Now everyone is in a tough situation and suffers because of the drop in oil prices. Nevertheless, we observe a good progress in your work on the start-up of the VCC technology. Many specialists around the globe keep an eye on TAIF-NK's project. And one of the objectives of our meeting is to discuss all the issues and potential areas of concern related to the start-up of the technology. We also should draw up a detailed start-up plan' John Derbyshire noted having assured the participants of his personal interest in the successful implementation of the project. 'Once the technology is put into commercial operation, TAIF-NK's refinery will become the most successful one in the world' the President of KBR T&C stated with confidence.
The complex will allow achieving almost non-waste oil refining process. After three-stage conversion of heavy residues into synthetic oil in the VCC process, the product will undergo a standard hydrocracking process in the fixed-bed catalyst, which will finally give us high-margin light oil products: propane and butane fractions, naphtha, diesel fuel meeting Euro-5 environmental standard, as well as clean vacuum gas oil, which is the main raw material for the production of Euro-5 gasoline. The launch of the complex will bring almost doubled profits.
In general, VCC technology has existed since the 1930s and was developed in Germany for the processing of coal into motor gasoline at a 750-atmosphere pressure.
Later, this technology capable of processing a wide range of heavy raw materials, though requiring high pressure, was forgotten: at that time, light oil was produced in sufficient quantities, which allowed manufacturing light oil products without application of special technologies and, most importantly, incurred much less costs. At the beginning of the 2000s, however, it was BP who got back to this technology and upgraded it. As a result, it has become possible today to process heavy raw materials at much lower pressure of 210 atmospheres. In 2010, BP transferred the right to sell the license and the technology worldwide to KBR, an American company.
'The technology itself raises no doubts. However, we have some questions...'
An intrigued head of the licensor company asked when the launch of the entire complex was expected. In response to this, Vladimir Presnyakov, Deputy General Director, TAIF PSC said: 'We plant to charge the first batch of feedstock in September. We aim to achieve the commercial operation mode by the middle of November, but not later than in December. Nevertheless, all that has not been proven commercially yet raises concerns.
'The technology itself raises no doubts. There are questions concerning the engineering part in respect of the operation of all the equipment purchased. The second point: how will the proprietary pressure let-down valves work? And the next one is the staff training. Of course, we conduct educational activities and trainings, too. We even train our staff to disassemble and assemble the back-up valves within 4 hours. But still we should eliminate all possible mistakes and problems that may occur during the plant startup taking into account its huge capacity' Vladimir Presnyakov noted. 'Well, this is like the launch of a spacecraft with a human being inside, so we have no right to make a mistake' Albert Shigabutdinov commented on the commercial startup of the HRCC.
In addition, in the course of the discussion the partners often referred to the experience of China, which faced some problems after launching a VCC unit. 'We had some issues communicating with the client. They were not eager to cooperate in such a tight manner as we do. Besides, they switched to another feedstock, different from the one the unit was designed for initially' Steve Mayo, Director, Refining Technology, KBR T&C said to explain the reason of the problems arisen at a Chinese plant.
It was decided to discuss the aspects of the coming start-up in more details right at the site of the Heavy Residue Conversion Complex in Nizhnekamsk, where the American company also planned to visit Nizhnekamskneftekhim and thoroughly discuss potential cooperation in the framework of the ethylene plant construction, namely, the construction of two cracking furnaces. 'Besides, based on the information we have, the main objective of NKNK is to maximize the production of benzene, divinyl, and butylene-isobutylene fractions. We would like to help you in this area, too' John Derbyshire highlighted.
More details regarding the interests of KBR T&C in Russia are coming in a soon-to-be-published interview taken by Realnoye Vremya, and the details about the projects of two major holdings - KBR T&C and TAIF - in our further publications.
In 1998, M.W.Kellogg and Brown & Root Engineering and Construction merged that resulted in the creation of one of global leaders in engineering, procurement, construction and services - KBR.
M.W. Kellogg was established by Morris Woodruff Kellogg in 1901 as a small pipe production company in New York, which later became a world-class engineering company. The expertise and knowledge of Kellogg in the area of engineering and its aspiration towards innovations led to the development of cutting edge technologies and new achievements in the industry. In the 1960s, the company made a revolution in the fertilizer industry having developed a new ammonia production technology that allowed food production growth worldwide. In the late 1980s, M.W. Kellogg was acquired by Dresser Industries, which later merged with Halliburton in 1998.
Brown & Root Engineering and Construction, whose core business is road construction and general contract work, was established in 1919 when the brothers George and Herman Brown created a construction company in Texas. Brown and Root started its business activity with road construction, however, soon it engaged in other activities. After the end of the World War II, Brown & Root focused on offshore projects. In 1947, the company entered the global market after the construction of the first offshore oil platform located in the sea, 43 miles away from the shore of Morgan City, Louisiana.
Brown & Root performed construction works for many benchmark projects in Houston including the Gulf Freeway, Soccer Stadium of the Rice University, NASA objects, Minute Maid Park and also in the framework of the projects implemented by oil refining and petrochemical companies and offshore platforms driving the global economy. In 1962, Brown & Root was acquired by Halliburton.
KBR (abb. Kellogg Brown & Root) carved out from Halliburton in 2006 and reached a whole new level after successful IPO on the New-York Stock Exchange. Today, KBR has customers in more than 70 countries.
In 2014, KBR optimized its business and focused on its core areas: engineering, procurement, construction, and services in the framework of hydrocarbon-related projects, and government orders.