‘We share the same values in development’: SIBUR delegation visits Nizhnekamskneftekhim

A delegation from SIBUR visited one of Europe’s largest petrochemical enterprises Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC. This was a return visit — the petrochemists familiarised themselves with the organisation of technological and organisational processes at ZapSibNeftekhim for three days. On the eve of the union of the businesses of TAIF Group and SIBUR Holding, such meetings help them get to know partner enterprises better, establish personal contacts, exchange experience in performing tasks that are common in the industry. Read in Realnoe Vremya’s report what impressed the representatives of SIBUR at Nizhnekamskneftekhim,

Business partner with a half-a-century-old reputation

An extensive programme waited for the SIBUR delegation in the petrochemical capital of Tatarstan. For four days, the representatives of the holding visited key plants and projects under construction at Nizhnekamskneftekhim. The familiarisation with the company began at the headquarters. Director General of NKNK Ayrat Safin welcomed his colleagues from SIBUR.

“Nizhnekamskneftekhim has a more than half-a-century history. The uniqueness is that the enterprise was born first, the city appeared lter. Nizhnekamsk and Nizhnekamskneftekhim are closely connected. The enterprise completely provides the city with potable water, maintains biological treatment facilities,” he noted.

According to Safin, over 54 years, the company has created an image of a reliable business partner, gained unique experience of mastering modern technologies, producing new types and brands of products.

“Nizhnekamskneftekhim is a world leader in synthetic rubber production. The company also manufactures a wide range of polymers that are in demand from different sectors. A big product portfolio allows the enterprise to overcome different difficulties. Nizhnekamskneftekhim is also a talent factory. The qualification of specialists is very high, especially in rubbers. The whole world resorts to us for licences and consultations,” Safin stressed.

As the NKNK director general noted, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, a subsidiary of Nizhnekamskneftekhim was one of the first to launch a line to produce non-woven protective masks. The company started to make its own antiseptic and ramped up the production of oxygen at the nitrogen and oxygen station for Tatarstan health establishments.

“We had the lowest coronavirus incidence in the republic. Today we are first in vaccination rate. About 78% of workers of the enterprise have already been vaccinated,” Safin noted.

By the way, before entering the territory of Nizhnekamskneftekhim, the representatives of SIBUR compulsorily did a test for coronavirus, the strictest preventive measures were followed in every facility.

On day one, the delegation went to Synthetic Rubber Plant. New production of lithium polybutadiene rubber using lithium as a catalyst (L-DBR) was launched in November 2007. Now Synthetic Rubber Plant manufactures SBR-3, NdBR, L-DBR that are used by Russian and foreign car tyre producers.

“They are familiarised with the enterprise now. We are showing our accomplishments. Something is a novelty for the SIBUR delegation. A lot of questions about control, costs and the prime cost of briquettes, rubber screening have arisen. We are open for dialogue, however, as well as they are. Everybody is ready to help each other” noted Oleg Nesterov, vice director general and production director of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC.

The delegation of SIBUR also looked over the new solution-polymerised styrene-butadiene rubber (SSBR) plant with a capacity of 60,000 tonnes a year. Nizhnekamskneftekhim started to build it in 2019. The active phase of the project coincided with the introduction of stringent restrictive measures related to the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, all construction works were fully done. The first briquette was made in the new plant in January 2021, while the solemn opening took place in May.

SSBR is attractive feedstock for the tyre industry, the so-called green tyres are made of them. They are eco-friendly, with improved performance characteristics, including safety. Tyres made from such rubber are famous for their resistance to wear, frost and dynamic endurance. They have low rolling resistance, due to which fuel consumption reduces. SSBR is designed to be used to make rubber goods and shoes, conveyor belts.

Styrene-butadiene-styrene thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) is another new type of polymer that is made in this plant. This product is used as an additive to an asphalt concrete surface and roofing materials. High compatibility with road and roof concretes, the optimal balance of mechanical endurance and elasticity as well as the possibility of multiple recycling without degradation are among key features of TPE.

“This is my third visit to Nizhnekamskneftekhim. The scale of the development that has taken place over this period is impressive. We have seen new SSBR and TPE capacities. Well done! The enterprise steadily increases its product portfolio. As for synergy, we have good experience in thermoplastic elastomer production. We were the first in Russia to launch this production. We took a lot of knocks on our way. There can be synergy here: using our experience, Nizhnekamskneftekhim can cover this path much faster. Some things that our colleagues from NKNK do well can be also useful for us, for instance, the wide range of NdBR brands. Such related products are very interesting for us. After the merger, the product set of synthetic rubbers will become one of the widest in the world,” thinks Director General of Voronezh Synthetic Rubber Plant Ilya Korzhenovsky.

After that, the delegation headed to Butyl Rubber Plant. Today this plant is the world’s third largest butyl rubber supplier, which is used to make car tyres, and one of the world’s biggest halobutyl rubber manufacturers. They are used in tubeless tyres. A few years ago, the enterprise set up the production of gum rubber and started to make elastomer for the pharmaceutical industry.

“We have seen a well-organised production process. Everything is as it should be on an industrial site. Our team arrived not only to get acquainted, but we also want to define points of mutually beneficial cooperation to have valuable effects for the companies,” stressed head of production analytics at SIBUR LLC Yevgeny Polikarpov.

At Butyl Rubber Plant, the guests looked over the shops, equipment, evaluated the process automation — from rubber reception to packaging. A robot that can place briquettes into all types of containers interested them.

“Nizhnekamskneftekhim resembles a whole city. We are pleased to share the same values in development and improvement. Personally, as a person who is responsible for efficiency and development, it is flattering. At the same time, I see synergy and the possibility of speaking the same language of the future, as I already told Kazanorgsintez engineers. In rubbers, our activities together with the management in Voronezh and Krasnoyarsk are a field for synergy. Rubber has historically been attributed huge meaning in Nizhnekamsk. Nizhnekamskneftekhim has a lot of developments, own licences, innovations that are useful for SIBUR,” Board Member and Managing Director of SIBUR Igor Klimov who supervises production efficiency, energy and resource supply shared his impressions.

Then, the dialogue went on at the company’s headquarters. They talked about the results of Nizhnekamskneftekhim’s activity since 1995, development stages through 2030, discussed the organisation of occupational and process safety, the implementation of projects on sustainable development and environmental protection where both companies have significant progress.

“Today we have managed to exchange opinions. The union will be an impulse for further development. We can receive feedstock from SIBUR we lack, distribute feedstock and product flows. The symbiosis of the SIBUR colleagues’ system and high professionalism of Nizhnekamskneftekhim will provide a good result. Everything will work,” Ayrat Safin shared the results of the first day.

The scale of the enterprise is impressive. How much labour was invested in its construction”

The SIBUR representatives’ second day at Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC wasn’t less eventful. A tour began with Oligomer and Glycol Plant. Ethylene oxide, ethylene glycol, Carbitol, ethyl cellosolve, nonoxynols, trimers, propylene tetramers, alpha olefins, simple polyesters, polyethylene glycols, triethyl aluminium are manufactured here. They have quite a wide range of applications — chemistry, medicine, defence, textiles, the pulp and paper industry. To assess the production scale fully, the guests went upstairs to a viewing platform.

“We are at a 40-metre height overlooking the ethylene glycol plant. The plant includes 12 shops. The plant employs a bit more than 1,000 people,” said Director of Oligomer and Glycol Plant Sergey Krasilnikov.

This year, Oligomer and Glycol Plant has successfully mastered the production of polyethylene glycol NPEG-2400, which is used to make the fifth-generation superplasticising admixture for concrete. The new technology allows keep storing concrete before laying it, its durability significantly rises too.

“The scale of the enterprise, NKNK, is impressive. How much labour was invested in its construction because the whole Soviet Union had worked on its creation. There is a possibility of modernising it together, making its larger and more effective,” noted Director of Energy and Resource Supply of SIBUR Vladimir Tupikin.

Nizhnekamskneftekhim’s key investment projects

The site of an EP-600 factory, which is under construction, was the next stop. The implementation of the ethylene plant with an installed annual capacity of 600,000 tonnes and derivatives is an important investment step in the development strategy of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC in the next years. This facilitates the reinforcement of the company’s status as a big market player in Russia and CIS countries, increase in the production of target goods — rubbers and plastics.

It is planned to annually process 1,798,500 tonnes of feedstock (naphtha) in the plant. Here 600,000 tonnes of ethylene, 273,000 tonnes of propylene, 88,000 tonnes of butadiene, 249,000 tonnes of benzene will be made. The works in the project kicked off in February 2019. Nowadays the facility in the active phase of construction.

“Germany’s Linde AG designs and delivers equipment. Gemont company from Turkey is the contractor general. Nowadays 2,893 people are employed, 2,684 are working on the site. The EP-600 complex is 30% ready nowadays,” Director of EP-600 plant Lenar Nagimullin started to explain.

According to him, its own local treatment facilities that will treat process water and return it to the process is the key peculiarity of the project. Also, the production will use smokeless flares and an incinerator to bury heavy residues.

Nowadays the main manufacturing equipment — pyrolysis furnaces — is being assembled in the EP-600 ethylene complex, which is built at Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC.

Six pyrolysis furnaces will be installed in total: five of them will be used in the process, one is in reserve. As specialists note, such equipment doesn’t have analogues in Tatarstan. Compared to the furnaces of the operating ethylene plant of the company, these furnaces have higher productivity. Their construction is distinctive because they have two radiant sections and one common convection section. This allows using different types of feedstock in the furnace. For instance, the furnaces ВА004, ВА005 and ВА006 can simultaneously run on both petrol and recycled ethane and propane. The furnace is 62 metres high.

“We have a big base of lessons related to the construction and launch of ZapSibNeftekhim. There are a lot of plans for the Amur project. The scale of the new EP-600 construction project of Nizhnekamskneftekhim pleases us. It is great to see how the plant is arising from scratch. We briefly had a look at the schedule of construction, start-up and commissioning, launch together with our colleagues. We agreed that the managers of the project will learn some lessons from the launch of ZapSibNeftekhim. We try to use the best latest solutions in our project in Svobodny. We will familiarise our colleagues with this information, perhaps, they will have the time to learn something. Perhaps, the schedule will change, we can initiate some changes,” Board Member and Managing Director of SIBUR Igor Klimov told Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent.

Energy foundation for current and new production

The mechanical completion of a new 495 MW CCGT-TPP power plant is almost 100%. The delegation of SIBUR visited it a few hours to a milestone — the launch.

Nizhnekamskneftekhim’s new 495 MW gas turbine will become a reliable energy foundation for both current and new petrochemical plants. Associated petroleum gases from plants of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC will be used as key fuel. This will become an important competitive advantage for the CCGT-TPP both from an economic and environmental point of view.

To compare, the KPI with the classic gas turbine cycle is about 30%. While the steam and gas cycle provides a higher KPI, more than 50%, thanks to its high efficacy. Switching from the steam turbine to the steam and gas cycle, energy made a real revolutionary breakthrough.

Own water treatment plant

Nizhnekamskneftekhim is not only a modern petrochemical enterprise but also an example of a socially-oriented business. The visitors made sure of this after seeing Nizhnekamskneftekhim’s water treatment plant. Just 13 years ago, the city with a population of 240,000 people didn’t have its own water treatment plant. Water came from Naberezhnye Chelny to Nizhnekamsk via 40-kilometre steel pipelines. The volumes weren’t enough, this is why up to 30% of clarified filtered water treated with high doses of chlorine solution to prevent the population from contracting infections had to be added.

The state-of-the-art water plant opened in November 2007. It was built altogether: industrial enterprises, the urban, republican and federal budgets made their contribution to funding the construction. Investments in the construction of water treatment facilities totalled 1,5 billion rubles, half of which was allocated by the chemical tycoon Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC.

The water treatment plant daily receives about 70,000 cubic metres of water from the Kama River. Here it undergoes five treatment stages. Disinfection in UV units allows eliminating 100% of viruses. Also, water is treated with highly effective coagulant and flocculent, passes through filters loaded with quartz sand from the Mount Khrustalnaya as well as Sorbent’s charcoal filters.

“Our water treatment plant is unique. After being treated with highly effective coagulant and flocculent, being stored in three-layer horizontal basins, primary filtration through the quartz sand of the Mount Khrustalnaya, the treated water goes through the final treatment stage, which is filtration through activated charcoal,” says Director of the water treatment plant SOV-NKNK JSC Alexander Gnedenkov.

The water treatment technology used in the plant develops year after year. The support of TAIF and Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC in the large-scale renovation of the water treatment plant allows keeping the treatment quality of potable water at the highest level.

“SIBUR enterprises are not often backbone companies. We are end consumers. Here (Editor’s note: the comment was made during the visit to the water treatment plant, a subsidiary of Nizhnekamskneftekhim), we see the scale, responsibility, safety requirements according to sanitary rules and norms. Care about the environment in general is characteristic of SIBUR too. We try to participate in environmental campaigns, events together with the cities. We consider all new projects through the lens of their impact on the atmosphere and water. Our enterprises aim at zero water consumption, closed cycles,” noted Chief Engineer of SIBUR-Neftekhim JSC Mikhail Gurlev.

Over 3 billion to reconstruct WTF and build sewage tank

The Water Treatment Facilities of Nizhnekamskneftekhim became the last point of the visit to the enterprise’s facilities. By the way, the reconstruction of the biological treatment facilities is the most significant environmental project of the company in the last years. Assuming responsibility for this strategic project literally since the foundation of Nizhnekamsk, the enterprise has maintained it for more than half a century. Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC has allocated more than 3 billion rubles to renew the facilities and build a new external tank.

“Now the whole treatment process is absolutely hermetic and provides the reliability of the sewage transportation system to the WTF. The use of a tank to catch particles is designув to remove oil products from sewage, while the use of closed air tanks allows removing and catching unpleasant chemical smells that are emitted in sewage treatment. Active silt, or special bacteria, really improve the efficacy of removing organic compounds and oil products from sewage,” said Nail Nafikov, chief engineer of Water Supply, Sewerage and Sewage Treatment Office.

The reconstruction that was done provided better qualitative composition of chemically contaminated sewage arriving for further biological treatment as well as treatment of polluted air until meeting norms. By the way, the WTF of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC treats not only sewage of the enterprise but also sewage from the industrial hub as well as urban sewage.

“We have seen in general the water circuit, infrastructure and sewage treatment technology. There are interesting practices and technologies designed to catch and remove hydrocarbon gases thanks to biofilters in the WTF as well as active development of local technologies to reduce the content of phenols, formaldehyde, methanol and lithium compounds in the sewage,” said Director General of BIAXPLEN Ltd Marat Falyakhov.

“All discussions are held in a friendly atmosphere”

After examining the production process, the visitors started to sum everything up. This was done via teleconference. Board Chairman of TAIF JSC Albert Shigabutdinov, Director General of Group’s head company Ruslan Shigabutdinov, Board Chairman of SIBUR PJSC Dmitry Konov, Manager of SIBUR Holding and Board Chairman and Director General Mikhail Karisalov participated in the meeting.

“We work by a long tradition — fruitfully and in close contact. We exchange experience in major repairs, automation of digital development, implementation of investment programmes. Everybody is as frank as possible,” Vice Director General of Energy and Information Technologies at TAIF PJSC Ruslan Gizzatullin opened the conference.

“All discussions are held in a friendly atmosphere,” Director General of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC Ayrat Safin continued. “Questions are answered immediately. I would like to say that the CCTG-TPP was put into operation reaching 30 MW in test mode. I congratulate everybody on this event!”

Board Member, Managing Director of Efficacy and Production at SIBUR LLC Igor Klimov noted the top organisation of the meeting.

“Everything is very convenient from a perspective of logistics, organisational moments,” he said.

“Haven’t you lost anything?” Dmitry Konov joked.

“No, we haven’t we have found friends,” Klimov replied. “We focused on the discussion of technological issues, tariffs, digitalisation. We dedicated the first day to rubbers, the second day to plastics, today we have seen biological treatment facilities and the water treatment plant. I have put down several practices. Mr Safin personally gave me a tip, thank you. We also saw the site of the new EP-600 plant. Without doubt, the construction will end in a year.”

“The scale of the production is impressive. We daily spend 3-4 hours on industrial sites. Clearly, our languages are different at times, but our ambitions are certainly similar. Our colleagues are fans of their business, don’t stay idle, launch new plants. The expertise degree is impressive, almost everybody we talked with know their area very well. Now we switched from dry questions to the explanation of the context and already join the successes of Nizhnekamskneftekhim, participated in the launch of its own CCGT-TPP,” said Alexander Popov, a board member, managing director of the Directorate for Plastics, Elastomers, Organic Synthesis.

“I hope the team will move only forward. A big team arrived in Nizhnekamskneftekhim. Those responsible are on the site. Real professionals hold talks,” stressed Director General of TAIF JSC Ruslan Shigabutdinov.

The results of the visit to Nizhnekamskneftekhim were positively assessed by both sides. The guests noted that the dialogue turned out to be as open as possible and enriched them with new knowledge that will be used to the full to achieve new, more ambitious results.

Concluding the teleconference, TAIF JSC Board Chairman Albert Shigabutdinov thanked the representatives of SIBUR for their visit and productive communication.

“Thanks to all the participants, especially the delegation of SIBUR for coming. As Mr Konov says, it is time to turn words into deeds. Not only shares but also incomes should go up in price.”

Liliya Yegorova. Photo: Albert Muklokov, Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC

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