Lack of Upkeep Hampers Turkmenbashi


Lack of Upkeep Hampers Turkmenbashi
A view of Turkmenbashi's refinery, which has an API Group I and Group II base oil plant. Photo courtesy Turkmenbashi Oil Processing Complex

Turkmenistan’s only base oil plant has been running at less than half of its 150,000 metric tons per year capacity due to a halted project to modernize the fuels refinery and limited access to new technologies, according to an industry insider.

The operator, Turkmenbashi Oil Processing, has however added to its portfolio of lubricants and fuels, a government official said last week.

Denis Varaksin, general manager of the Berlin -based petroleum products trader Dym Resources, told Lube Report that base oil output at the site has fallen off due to a lack of investment and limited access to refining technologies.

“This is a long-term decline, and the base oil plant there has not been running at full capacity for some time now,” he said during an interview Tuesday. He said the decline has been happening at least since late 2022.

Dym offers services for base oil movement from this and other refineries in the region.

Lubes’n’Greases Base Stock Plant Data lists capacity of the base oil plant at 80,000 t/y of API Group I oils and 70,700 t/y of Group II oils.

“Currently they produce about 4,000 t/y to 5,000 t/y of base oils per month, which is less than a half of its full annual capacity,” Varaksin noted, adding that most of the base oils supplied by this refinery stay in the regions of Middle East and Central Asia.

The announcement of the two new products introduced by the refiner came from the

Turkmenistan Deputy Prime Minister Batyr Amanov. During a cabinet meeting last week, the official said that the refinery introduced its new Hydro Plus branded fuel and a motor oil product used in diesel engines.

“The refinery started to produce API CF-4 [specification] motor oil that can be used in diesel engines in automobiles and other equipment that run in extremely high temperatures,” Amanov said.

The American Petroleum Institute introduced the CF-4 category specification in 1990, to be used for “high-speed, four-stroke, naturally aspirated and turbocharged diesel engines.” The institute has discontinued licensing diesel engine oils against service category CF-4 and now considers the specification obsolete. However, this engine oil continues to be used in the older types of heavy-duty vehicles and machinery that operate in some parts of the world, such as Russia, Turkmenistan and other countries in Central Asia.

Varaksin said Turkmenbashi’s production of finished lubricants varies depending on the availability of lubricant additives. “The blending plant has enough capacity to supply simple finished lubricants made with Group I+ base oils,” he said. “Its load rate depends on the availability of lube additives, which are being imported.”