Base Oil Reactor Sails on Long Voyage

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Base Oil Reactor Sails on Long Voyage
The shipping company hired by Gazprom Neft unloads the hydro treatment and catalytic dewaxing reactors at a river dock in Omsk, Russia. Photo courtesy of Gazprom Neft

Gazprom Neft is one step closer to completing an upgrade for its base oil plant in Omsk, Russia, after delivery of some vital elements – a hydrotreating unit and catalytic dewaxing reactor.

The equipment, conveyed to the site last week, was delivered after a phased and complex water journey of more than 9,000 kilometers through Russia and international seas, the company said in a March 25 press release.

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The 220,000 API Group II and III base oil plant features hydro treatment and catalytic dewaxing technology licensed by ExxonMobil and is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2022. Equipment for the U.S. $424 million project is installing reactors, high-pressure separators, storage tanks, pipes and valves – all supplied by Russian manufacturers.  

The manufacturers – both leading Russian makers of heavy machinery for the petrochemical industry – are Volgograd-based Volgogradneftemash and Uralkhimash from Yekaterinburg. Weighing a combined 1,300 tons, the hydrotreater and dewaxing reactor required a specialized logistics scheme with phased shipment by river and sea vessels, the company said.

Before it sailed off on its long voyage in northern Russia, the reactor first completed an equally complex and geographically challenging inland journey that included a network of Russia’s vast river routes and canals.

“The journey consisted of three phases,” a Gazprom Neft spokesperson told Lube Report on Monday. “The shipping company used self-propelled module transport vehicles, crane lifting of the eqpment on the river barges and waterway shipment of heavy weight transport from Volgogradneftemash to the river docks in Omsk.”

According to the company, the equipment manufactured in Volgograd, in the south of Russia, was shipped on the River Volga via the Rybinsk Reservoir north of Moscow, and then over the lake of Onega, along the White Sea Canal, all the way up through Russia’s northern system of lakes, and then it sailed into the White Sea.

The second, international phase of transporting hydrotreating unit and the reactor involved part of the Northern Sea route that stretches from Novaya Zemlya in the west to the Bering Sea in the east, which includes Barents and Kara seas. Continuing all the way north to the tip of the Yamal Peninsula, the shipment than turned to sail southward into the Gulf of Ob in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug.

The final phase of the operation began when the equipment went on its second river waterway journey above the Arctic Circle, making a stop at the deep sea vessel anchoring site at a port on river Ob, to be transferred on a river barge. Then, it traveled southward on the rivers of Ob and Irtysh to Gazprom Neft’s specially constructed heavy weight river dock at the refinery site in Omsk, located in the southern part of Siberia.

“The key stage of the operation was realized in its ‘last mile’, when the shipment was delivered without parsing of the equipment and with no stoppage of the [base oil plant] construction process,” the spokesperson said. “The most interesting technical task was moving the equipment on the construction site using several specially constructed platforms,”

The complex logistical operation took several weeks, the company said.

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