MOSCOW (MRC) -- The key plant constructed as part of the Grupa Lotos EFRA Project, namely the Coker Complex consisting of the Delayed Coking Unit (DCU) and auxiliary installations, has reached the Ready For Start-Up (RFSU) status, according to Hydrocarbonprocessing.
The RFSU means formal completion of the construction. It was preceded by a long process of testing all 95 mechanical, electrical, automatic, IT and other systems, confirming their correct construction and operation, as well as detecting and removing any defects. After the RFSU phase was reached, the systems will be handed over for commissioning, i.e. for testing by its operator: the EFRA Plant owned by LOTOS Asfalt, the Coker Complex owner.
"The Ready For Start-Up status of the EFRA Project’s main unit is very good news to LOTOS, which will now have an even more efficient, innovative, environmentally friendly and profitable refinery, producing almost exclusively high-margin products," says Mateusz A. Bonca, President of the Grupa LOTOS Management Board " With the DCU we will be able to discontinue the production of heavy fuel oil. This is important because January 2020 will see the entry into force of IMO regulations that ban the combustion of heavy fuel oil by ships, i.e. the main consumer of this fuel with a high sulfur content. Instead of this low-value and non-ecological product, we will use heavy residues remaining after crude oil processing to obtain high-quality diesel oil, aviation fuel and coke, thus increasing our refining margins."
Thanks to the implementation of the EFRA Project, LOTOS will manufacture almost exclusively clean and high-margin products, whose share in its refining output will grow to over 89%, from approximately 77% in 2012. The financial effects of the launch of the Coker Complex should be visible in the Grupa LOTOS financial results for the fourth quarter of 2019.
The DCU has been built based on a globally unique, innovative Triplan technology (used in only one refinery to date), which ensures fully air-tight processes of unloading coke from the reactors and its further processing and transport. Coke removal will also meet the highest environmental standards.
"Implementation of the EFRA Project solves a problem that is common to all refineries in the world, namely the problem of heavy residues from oil processing. This project takes us to a higher technological level," emphasized Patryk Demski, Vice-President of the Grupa LOTOS Management Board for investment and innovation "However, this is not the end of our innovative path towards the improvement of our refinery. It is a new beginning. We are facing further challenges to make even better use of the potential of our plants and to achieve even better economic results."
The start-up process that is about to begin will be a complex project consisting of numerous tests, in which safety is the priority issue. It is also the time for further training of the personnel operating the DCU, being the first unit of this kind at the LOTOS refinery and in Poland, based on a technology different from other systems employed at the Gdansk plant. Training of the Coker Complex employees was partly conducted in the US, where they learned about systems of this type. Nearly 90 employees of LOTOS Asfalt have new responsibilities, and thus new work-related challenges in operating the EFRA units. Likewise, construction of the new units gave employment to more than 1,500 staff of the contractors, mainly Polish companies.
The cost of the EFRA Project run in 2015–2019 is some PLN 2.3 billion.
EFRA is the continuation of a wider process of technological modernization of the refinery and optimization of the oil processing chain initiated under the extensive 10+ Programme, which raised the refinery’s throughput by 4.5m tonnes annually. EFRA will significantly increase the depth of oil processing, enabling additional production of some 900,000 tonnes of high-margin fuels and 300,000 tonnes of coke per year. The new Coker Complex comprises the Delayed Coking Unit (DCU), the Coking Naphtha Hydrotreating Unit (CNHT), as well as facilities for storage and distribution of coke. Other units built and already commissioned under the EFRA Project include the Hydrowax Vacuum Distillation Unit (HVDU), the Hydrogen Generation Unit (HGU), Oxygen Production Plant, and a power distribution facility. In addition, many other units and facilities, mainly related to logistics, have been constructed and upgraded.
We remind that, as MRC reported earlier, Poland’s second-biggest oil refiner Lotos is looking to buy upstream assets to boost its own oil production, a strategy made all the more important given recent problems with supplies from Russia. Most of the crude refined at Lotos’s refinery in the northern Polish city of Gdansk comes from Russia via the Druzhba pipeline, but flows via Druzhba were suspended last month due to contamination, sending shockwaves through global oil markets.