Bilfinger to help Total with turnarounds at Leuna refinery

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The TOTAL refinery in Leuna has recently awarded Bilfinger two further major contracts worth roughly EUR30 million: the first involves exchanging the reactor systems; the second, performing the turnaround for the plant’s POX methanol facility, according to Hydrocarbonprocessing.

More than 800 Bilfinger specialists will be involved in these two projects.

TOTAL’s refinery Mitteldeutschland in Leuna is one of the most modern industrial plants in Europe. Its output products include gasoline, heating oil, liquefied gas, diesel and methanol - indispensable raw materials for any economy. It is easy to see that operating and maintaining such a huge facility is no simple task.

The first of the contracts - replacing the six reactor systems - will have to be carried out in the midst of ongoing production operations and, if at all possible, without any downtimes. This is because the reactor systems, along with the downstream plant components, convert heavy petroleum residues from the refinery into methanol, a key industrial input chemical, by means of partial oxidation (POX). This will be the most extensive refurbishment work ever done on the Leuna plant, which is one of the last industrial holdovers from the Communist period in Eastern Germany. The project is expected to result in a 20% increase in the volume of methanol produced.

A project of this magnitude requires careful advance preparation; accordingly, planning was begun as early as at the start of 2019. Gerald Weber has been looking after the plant’s maintenance for a long time. The twenty-year veteran of Bilfinger’s Engineering & Maintenance service line explains how he and his team will bring the plant up to the latest technical standard: “We will be removing and modernizing each of the reactors individually, which weigh between 60 and 70 tons - a process that will take 85 days each. Our tasks will also include building a new burner-cooling system."

The project’s logistics present a particular challenge: The plant components to be installed are big and heavy. Thus, a special crawler crane with a capacity of 600 tons will be used to fit the reactors into place. Several days will be needed just to set up and remove the crane and to prepare its operating lane – a process that will have to be repeated for each of the six reactors. Transporting the crane and its appurtenant equipment will require some 50 trucks. Weber provides the details: “So you see that our services consist of more than the pre-assembly work and the conversion as such. Just as important is our preparatory planning and our coordination of the various trades on the construction site. In the end, everything has to run like clockwork. It’s high-precision work. Of course, safety always comes first.” The reactors are scheduled to be replaced by the end of 2021, thereby completing the project.

By this time, the second contract awarded to Bilfinger - the refinery’s turnaround in the fall of 2020 - will also have been completed. Gerd Braune, the engineer at the Bilfinger Engineering & Maintenance service line who is supervising the turnaround, explains: "Operators are obligated to shut down their plants in this way at regular intervals. This sort of general inspection is intended to ensure that the plant remains technically reliable, legally compliant and environmentally friendly. We will be making the plant fit for the next six years while providing top-to-bottom maintenance.” The plant has to be kept idle while all this is going on, Braune points out, thereby causing substantial turnover losses for the operator: “Our job is to keep these losses as small as possible. Every additional day of downtime for the plant increases the economic damage our customers stand to suffer."

In order to keep such downtimes as short as possible, Bilfinger has developed its own in-house concept for executing turnarounds. "How we go about it exactly is a trade secret,”"says Braune and laughs: "But I can say this much: Efficient scheduling and work planning are essential.

Another factor is that our workforce is highly qualified and very familiar with the routines involved in such interventions. What’s more, we’re using digital solutions to an increasing degree." The results speak for themselves: Every year, Bilfinger performs around 30 comprehensive turnarounds of industrial plants across Europe. The service field responsible for turnarounds has expended 4.5 million man-hours of work in recent years – and this without a single accident entailing lost working days.

This hopefully will hold true also for the turnaround of the TOTAL refinery Mitteldeutschland. Bilfinger acts as general contractor for a number of the plant’s systems, including the POX methanol facility. The maintenance services, which have been planned far in advance, must be completed within four to six weeks. This will involve opening, inspecting and cleaning innumerable containers and pipes – and of course also repairing them if needed. Subsequently, the individual components will be inspected and certified by the German Technical Supervision Association (TUV). Braune sums up: "What counts here is experience, familiarity with the routines, and keeping a cool head: Every move has to be executed perfectly and the relevant work steps have to be clear to all involved."

To ensure that this is the case, giant workflow diagrams wallpaper have been hung up where everyone can see them. These depict the individual work steps and work packages, which can then be checked off as they are completed. Thus, everyone will be able to keep an eye on the big picture. As Braune puts it, "A turnaround is a like a vast mosaic composed of many small tiles representing work packages, one that has been painstakingly planned two years in advance." In fact, a planning period this long is indispensable: Certain portions of the plant will be turned into huge construction sites for short periods of time, where many people will be expected to work in coordination at very close quarters. It goes without saying that, despite the intense time pressure involved, occupational safety and diligence will always have top priority.

With these two projects, Bilfinger will support the TOTAL refinery in further boosting its competitiveness. The complete replacement of the reactors will form part of the "Leuna 2020+" catalogue of measures intended to make the refinery viable for the future. By ramping up its production of methanol, the refinery is reacting to declining demand for heavy fuel products.

As MRC reported before, Total is evaluating new gas cracker project in South Korea as part of petchems growth strategy.

Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 1,724,670 tonnes in the first ten months of 2019, up by 7% year on year. Shipments of all PE grades increased. The estimated PP consumption in the Russian market in January-October 2019 totalled 1,066,520 tonnes, up by 7% year on year. Supply of block copolymers of propylene (PP block copolymer) and homopolymer of propylene (homopolymer PP) increased, demand for statistical copolymers (PP random copolymer) decreased.

Bilfinger is a leading international industrial services provider. The Group enhances the efficiency of assets, ensures a high level of availability and reduces maintenance costs. The portfolio covers the entire value chain from consulting, engineering, manufacturing, assembly, maintenance, plant expansion as well as turnarounds and also includes environmental technologies and digital applications.

The company delivers its services in two service lines: Technologies and Engineering & Maintenance. Bilfinger is primarily active in the regions Continental Europe, Northwest Europe, North America and the Middle East. Process industry customers come from sectors that include chemicals & petrochemicals, energy & utilities, oil & gas, pharma & biopharma, metallurgy and cement. With its 36,000 employees, Bilfinger upholds the highest standards of safety and quality and generated revenue of EUR4.153 billion in financial year 2018.

NSRP refinery produces 4.6 M tons in first year

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Vietnam’s Nghi Son oil refinery (NSRP) has produced 4.6 million tons of petroleum fuel in its first year of commercial operation, reducing the country’s reliance on foreign petroleum imports, reported Hydrocarbonprocessing with reference to the company's statement.

The USD9 billion refinery, which begun commercial production in Dec. 2018, met a third of Vietnam’s demand for petroleum fuel products, the company said in a statement.

The statement said NSRP, Vietnam’s second refinery, had contributed over 11.66 trillion dong (USD502.69 million) to the state budget as of Nov this year.

The 200,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery, located 260 km (160 miles) south of Hanoi, is 35.1% owned by Japan’s Idemitsu Kosan Co, 35.1% by Kuwait Petroleum, 25.1% by PetroVietnam and 4.7% by Mitsui Chemicals Inc.

As MRC wrote before, NSRP undertook a planned shutdown at its polypropylene (PP) unit on October 22, 2019. The unit remained shut till end-November, 2019. Located at Nghi son, Vietnam, the PP unit has a production capacity of 400,000 mt/year.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, the estimated PP consumption in the Russian market in January-October 2019 totalled 1,066,520 tonnes, up by 7% year on year. Supply of block copolymers of propylene (PP block copolymer) and homopolymer of propylene (homopolymer PP) increased, demand for statistical copolymers (PP random copolymer) decreased.

ABS imports to Ukraninan market rose by 23% in Jan-Nov 2019

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Imports of acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) to the Ukrainian market grew in the first eleven months of 2019 by 23% year on year, according to MRC's DataScope report.

Thus, imports of material into Ukraine totalled 5,600 tonnes over the stated period. This figure was at 4,600 tonnes in January-November 2018.

November ABS imports into the country were 670 tonnes versus 810 tonnes a month earlier and 720 tonnes in November 2018.

South Korea is the largest ABS supplier into the region. The share of Korean material in the total shipments fell in January-November 2019 to 45% year on year (2,600 tonnes) from 61% a year earlier (2,800 tonnes), with LG Chem's shipments being at 1,630 tonnes and Lotte's imports - at 760 tonnes.


PC production in Russia down by 8% in Jan-Nov 2019

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Overall Kazanorgsintez's polycarbonate (PC) production dropped in the first eleven months of 2010 by 8% year on year to 71,500 tonnes, according to MRC's ScanPlast report.

Russia's only PC producer's output of material decreased in November 2019 by 12% from October, totalling 7,300 tonnes. Production of material was 6,600 tonnes in November 2018.

PC-007 grade was the most popular among consumers. It accounted for 74% (48,990 tonnes) in January-November 2019 versus the share of 70% (50,300 tonnes) in the first eleven months of 2018. The share of PC-007 grade was 66% (4,900 tonnes) in November 2019.

HDPE production in Russia decreased by 9% in January - November

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Russia's production of high density polyethylene (HDPE) totalled about 795,800 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2019, down by 9% year on year. All producers increased their output, according to MRC's ScanPlast report.

November HDPE production in Russia grew to 65,500 tonnes, whereas this figure was 45,900 tonnes a month earlier. Low output in October was a result of shutdowns for maintenance at Stavrolen and Kazanorgsintez. Thus, overall HDPE production reached 795,800 tonnes in January-November 2019, compared to 877,600 tonnes a year earlier. All Russian producers reduced the production of HDPE, while Kazanogrsintez showed a minimal decrease in production volumes.

The structure of polyethylene (PE) production by plants looked the following way over the stated period.

Russia's November HDPE production at Kazanorgsintez increased to 36,600 tonnes from 16,700 tonnes a month earlier. The Kazan producer shut down its production for a turnaround from 26 September to 20 October. The Kazan plant's overall HDPE output reached 454,900 tonnes in January-November 2019, up by 1% year on year.

Stavrolen produced 20,100 tonnes last month, compared to 7,100 tonnes in October, the Budyonovsk producer shut its production capacities for maintenance from 6 September to 18 October. It is also worth noting that, ethylene production facilities in Stavrolen had worked with reduced load until mid-November. The plant's overall output reached 241,400 tonnes over the stated period, down by 9% year on year.

Gazprom neftekhim Salavat decreased capacity utilisation in November, the plant's total production decreased to 8,100 tonnes from 10,500 tonnes a month earlier. The Bashkir plant's overall HDPE output reached 95,600 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2019, down by 12% year on year. Such a great reduction in HDPE production was caused by a long turnaround in July, whereas the Salavat producer did not shut its production capacities for maintenance last year.

Nizhnekamskneftekhim produced exclusively linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) over the stated period.