EPC met with Nizhnekamskneftekhim (NKNK), a subsidiary of a diversified holding TAIF, to present its process of isocyanates manufacturing - one of the main components of polyurethane. A delegation of the German engineering group came to Kazan with the technology licensor Chematur, Sweden. A reporter of Realnoye Vremya investigated on the details of the talks.
To Cover Domestic Consumption Completely
Why can the proposal of EPC and Chematur - to start production of isocyanates in Tatarstan – be attractive? First, this polyurethane component is available in Russia only through import and, in case the plant is put into operation, domestic demand may be fully covered with domestically produced product. Second, after start-up of a promising ethylene complex at Nizhnekamskneftekhim, necessary raw materials for isocyanates manufacturing will be available. Recall, now the tender for the general contractor for the ethylene complex project is underway and will be completed in late September.
‘The complex will supply many intermediate products to be converted into end petrochemicals. Thus, the first 600,000 tpa polyethylene train will produce some 270,000 tpa of benzene. Of course, we will seek an opportunity to further process them,’ Vladimir Busygin, Board Chairman of Nizhnekamskneftekhim, Deputy General Director, Nizhnekamskneftekhim Group Management and Strategic Development, TAIF said to clarify the situation.
Jens Henkel, CEO, EPS said in response that he was ‘especially glad to hear about the plans to expand the production of benzene, which is in short supply in the market. You will have raw materials, so all we will have to do is to start a business,’ Mr. Henkel dropped a hint and gave the floor to Chematur representatives, the process licensor.
‘Since the beginning of 1986, the company began studying the isocyanates technology and, therefore, we have accumulated a 30 year experience. We offer a patented technology and develop basic design,’ Conny Lundstedt, Marketing Director, said. In addition, he noted that notwithstanding the change of the company’s owner in 2014 - Chematur became a 100% subsidiary of The Connell Group, China, - it remains a Swedish company, for which the way was paved by Alfred Nobel. In 1930, he formed a separate department in the Bofors concern to address the challenges of the chemical export business and at the very same period Chematur performed its first export project.
What Is The Market Capacity?
According to the estimates of Chematur’s representatives, the current demand for isocyanates in Russia is 400,000 tons per year. There are two types of isocyanates most commonly used in the industry: toluene diisocyanate (TDI) and methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI). TDI is used in the production of flexible polyurethane foams that are further applied to produce foam, different seats, mattresses, varnishes, coatings, sealants, and adhesives. MDI is required to manufacture rigid polyurethanes. It has high thermal insulation properties, which determines its main application: thermal insulation for buildings, refrigeration equipment, and pipe insulation.
It should be reminded that Nizhnekamskneftekhim and BASF Polyurethanes have a JV established as early as in 2000, which manufactures and sells Elastokam polyurethane systems in the Russian market.
How to Ensure Safety
It became clear during the meeting that isocyanate manufacturing is impossible without phosgene, an extremely hazardous substance. ‘Production safety is insured by the plants’ reliability,’ Lars Stenmark, Director Development, Chematur said. Only words are not enough here, however. ‘Phosgene manufacturing always raises many concerns and we must study the plant operation scheme in details,’ Vladimir Busygin noted. ‘Besides, the Department for Nizhnekamskneftekhim Group Management and Strategic Development, TAIF PSC will conduct market analysis with forecast till 2025, study the consumption norms, emissions and effluents, compare them with respective Russian standards, and evaluate raw materials consumption balance, where, by the way, one of the components is nitric acid of high concentration. And the question — who may supply highly concentrated acid in big quantities — is still open. As early as in the autumn, probably, there will be more clarity on many of these issues. To avoid a delay, the potential partners decided to have the next meeting in the middle of September.
EPC Group (Germany) manufactures industrial equipment, develops and implements infrastructural projects and industrial plants. The scope of EPC’s services include the services over the entire technological cycle and the lifetime of a plant. The group has implemented in total over 1,000 projects in more than 40 countries around the world.
Chematur Group (Sweden) performs engineering, construction, and equipment supply for chemical industry. The company has supplied over 800 plants worldwide based on its own technologies. Chematur Group is fully owned by a Chinese company The Connell Group. The company’s total headcount is over 4,500 employees.