Base Oil Expansion Planned in Turkmenistan

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South Koreas Hyundai Engineering Co. and LG International Co. are in the midst of a broad project to expand capacity for base oil, fuels and other petrochemicals at Turkmenbashi refinery, the Turkmen Oil and Mineral Resources Ministry said last week.

The project is expected to add 2 million tons per year crude oil processing capacity to the refinerys current 6 million t/y capacity by 2015. It will augment the refinerys light and heavy gas oil processing, along with processing of other residues such as tar oil, according to the ministrys July 21 news release. The unit will help expand the refinerys main products – namely fuels, base oils, condensed gas, coke or bitumen.

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A new vacuum fractionating column has already been erected at the vacuum fuel-oil residue refining unit. The column was transported from the South Korean port of Masan, the ministry said. At the moment, construction is going on at the coke production plant with the tar oil deasphaltization unit and at the preliminary crude oil distillation unit, it said.

The state-owned Turkmenbashi refinerys priority is to increase the severity of crude oil processing.

The U.S. $534 million overhaul of the refinery, located at the Caspian Sea, was launched in 2012 and is expected to finish by mid-2015, according to a Hyundai official, quoted by Reuters agency in 2012. So far modernization efforts resulted in a finished catalytic cracking unit and the units for catalytic reforming, hydro treatment of diesel fuel and treatment of kerosene.

Turkmenistans government expects crude oil processing capacity at the nations two refineries to reach 15 million t/y by 2015. It has set an ambitious target to upgrade its refining industry and boost its oil refining to 30 million tons by 2030. Current combined crude throughput is 10 million t/y.

LG International and Hyundai Engineering are involved in nine refining and petrochemical projects in Turkmenistan with a total worth of $5.5 billion.

In June they sealed a deal with the state Turkmengas to develop a complex for production of polyvinylchloride and caustic hydroxide. Together with Toyo Engineering Co., of Japan, they are building an ethylene, polyethylene and polypropylene production complex.

Both complexes will use natural gas feedstock. The Central Asian nation of 5.2 million people has the worlds fourth largest natural gas reserves.

The Turkmenbashi refinery has capacity to produce 6,500 t/y of API Group I base oils and 70,700 t/y of Group II base oils.