Tatneft: Doing Fine Despite Sanctions


Tatneft: Doing Fine Despite Sanctions
A Volkswagen Passat on the elevator in the tower for storage and presentation in Varshavka Center in Moscow, Russia. © Pavel L Photo and Video / Shutterstock.com

Western oil companies and lubricant additive suppliers may have pulled back from Russia, but officials with at least one Russian lubricant marketer insist that business is fine.

In an interview with Lube Report last week, a Tatneft official said Russian lube companies have access to plenty of base oil and are able to get enough additives from domestic suppliers to get by.

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“This is an excellent opportunity for domestic producers to return to the Russian market,” said Ramil Shakirov, head of the Tatarstan oil major’s oil and refining product sales management team.

Russian oil companies have “high potential in production of all main base oils used in manufacturing of different types of finished lubricants,” he said, and can produce them “in enough quantity” to meet the country’s demands.

“I cannot speak on behalf of all vertically integrated oil companies,” he said, “but Tatneft has achieved enough abilities and technologies to produce high-quality lubricants.”

Tatneft operates a base oil plant at its Nizhnekamsk refinery with capacity to produce 190,000 tons per year of Group II and Group III base oils. The plant uses wax isomerization and hydrofinishing technology licensed from Chevron Lummus Global. Its hydrogen plant uses technology licensed from Haldor Topsoe, while its project documentation, engineering development, procurement and supervision was handled by VNIPIneft, a research and design institute for the Russian oil and petrochemical industry.

Regarding lubricant additives, which are an essential part of any lubricant formulation, Shakirov said that they too have been replaced with domestic analogues. The four main lube additive makers – Infineum, Lubrizol Corp., Chevron Oronite and Afton – confirmed that they have suspended their operations in Russia.

Additives are crucial in any lubricant product. They control such product characteristics as sludge prevention (detergent additives), anti-oxidation (corrosion inhibitors) or anti-wear properties (viscosity modifiers). Proper additive packages are needed to gain industrywide approval for use of the finished products, be it in the automotive or in the industrial sector.

All this time “Russian companies were active in this field, too,” Shakirov said, adding that Russian marketers have actively developed domestic additives completing field tests in the engines developed in Russia and in the engines made in the country under foreign original equipment manufacturer licenses.

“To tell the truth, they cannot cover wider equipment assortment” produced abroad.

Shakirov confirmed that Tatneft’s new blending plant at Taneco refinery is operational and has capacity to produce 7,000 t/y of motor and transmission oils and 15,000 t/y of transformer and hydraulic fluids.

Tatneft announced the project in 2019, with a price tag of 1 billion rubles (U.S $16.7 million) but its projected capacity was reduced, and its completion and production start were pushed back a couple of times. The plant finally started to operate at the end of May 2021, whenRustam Minnikhanov, president of the Republic of Tatarstan, and Nail Maganov, head of Tatneft, officially opened the plant, along with two other new units (a catalytic hydrocracking unit for expanded production of fuels and a hydrogen production expansion).

The company said then that the plant was designed to accommodate an expansion of up to 60,000 t/y.

Products made at the plant are marketed under the Taneco and Tatneft brands.

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