April 8 (prw) -- Leading Russian oil group Lukoil has put back the planned launch of a major ┬2.6bn gas-chemicals expansion project in southern Russia to 2016 or 2017. The lingering global economic recession played a significant role in the group's decision to postpone completion of the Caspian gas-chemical complex and the expansion of its existing Budyennovsk chemical cracker. The complex, originally set to go on stream this year, was already postponed until 2013.
Lukoil planned the complex in Budyennovsk with a 15 billion m3/year gas processing capacity after discovering six important oil and gas fields in the Caspian Sea. The new chemical complex will source the Caspian natural gas for production at its new 600,000 tpa PE plant. Lukoil is not alone in reassessing the timing of its strategic projects. Another Russian petrochemicals player, Salavatnefteorgsintez, based in the Russian semi-autonomous republic of Bashkortostan, has again postponed its plan to build a 120,000 tpa high density polyethylene (HDPE) plant, originally scheduled for 2006.
The company had hoped to launch the new polyethylene operation in Salavat by last year but it missed the latest deadline at the end of 2009. But Russia's leading petrochemicals producer Sibur Holding is still forging ahead with its several polymer projects. Its Tobolsk-Polymer scheme, including the construction of 510,000 tpa propylene and 500,000 tpa polypropylene plants in Tobolsk, Tyumen state, is due on stream in 2012.
Meanwhile, Sibur has been reticent to confirm the exact launch timing of Russia's first worldscale vinyl complex in Kstovo in the Nizhny Novgorod region. Including a 330,000 tpa PVC plant, the Rusvinyl complex - a joint venture project between Sibur, Solvay group offshoot SolVin and BASF - was set for start up this spring. Despite a slowdown in Russian national growth, demand for polymers is still growing, albeit slowly and seems set to remain more buoyant than for chemicals generally through to 2012, Russia's Economic Development Ministry has said.