Powerful Plant – Powerful Pace

view of factory during nighttime

Tobolsk-Polymer – a SIBUR subsidiary and the largest private investment project in the petrochemical field in Russia’s contemporary history – started to operate in the test mode this spring. Already by the end of this year, Russia will be able to give up on polypropylene import – and this is a real breakthrough in the Russian petrochemical industry.

Construction of Tobolsk-Polymer plant, in which SIBUR invested RUB 60 billion, started at the end of 2009. Now, in just three years, the petrochemical complex is almost ready and only commissioning activities need to be finished. When the enterprise starts operating at its full capacity, which will happen in 2-3 months, it will produce 500 thousand tons of polypropylene per annum.

Construction site of the new plant, which looked like a huge anthill not so long ago, now has a completely different look: steel structures and process equipment installation finished at propane dehydrogenation and polypropylene production facilities. Column and heat exchanger vessels, drums, reactors, proportioners and filters are put in place. The most abnormal-sized column weighing 1,095 tons and designed for propane-propylene fraction separation jumped to 96 meters above the ground level. All these mostly outsized and heavy equipment units were manufactured at the works of South Korea and EU countries. It was delivered to Tobolsk along the Northern Sea Route, the Ob and the Irtysh.

Meanwhile, capacities at the operational petrochemical plant are expanding in an aggressive manner. As a result of stage-by-stage modernization, the Central gas fractionation unit initially designed to process 3 million tons of broad fractions, is now processing 3.8 million tons annually. For this purpose, column, pumping and heat transfer equipment had to be replaced, cooling tower installed and process control system updated.

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Installation of the second gas fractionator was completed last year. Specialists of SOP&G Group mounted on the foundation the first rectification column, 38 meters high, 3.6 meters in diameter and weighing 211 tons. It is intended for ethane-propane fraction separation. The column was lifted by two Liebherr cranes at a time, lifting capacity was 750 and 350 tons respectively. The next columns called for machinery with bigger lifting capacity.

For this purpose, a real giant was purchased – crawler crane Liebherr LR 11350 with the lifting capacity of 1,350 tons (having unique boom design – S-boom and P-boom). As of today, SOP&G Group is the only Russian company possessing this type of crane which is under free circulation on the territory of Russia.

Upon customs clearance, the crane was directly sent to Tobolsk-Neftekhim site where it did a good job while installing six units of heavy-lift column equipment and complex process piping/steel structure unit. But the most outstanding job was lifting the ethane-propane fraction recovery column, which measured over 80 meters in height, 4.5 meters in diameter and weighed 574 tons, and an isobutane-butane fraction recovery column, more than 59 meters high, 4.5 meters in diameter and weighing 300 tons.

After execution of these two projects, overall capacity of Tobolsk-Neftekhim gas fractionation units reached 6.6 million tons of broad fractions per annum. This kind of unit capacity will be the largest in Russia and one of the largest in the world.

SOP&G Group continued to work at Tobolsk-Neftekhim facilities in the current year. Just so, crawler crane Liebherr LR 1350 participated in completion of installation of flare tip and steel structures, and a telescopic crane Liebherr LTR 1100 assisted in laying the pipeline for the flare unit.

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In the meantime, SIBUR is proceeding to preparation of a new and even more massive project called ZapSibNeftekhim. An agreement has been signed with Linde AG (Germany) to design a pyrolysis production works for 1.5 million tons of ethylene with subsequent production of 2 million tons of various polymers annually. This jumbo of the world’s petrochemical industry is located next to Tobolsk-Polymer and Tobolsk-Neftekhim.