Russian PAO Plant Restarts

Tatneft restarted its polyalphaolefin production after an eight-year hiatus that was due to lack of feedstock supply and sanctions imposed by the international community on several Russian oil majors.

The Tatarstan company said it managed to overcome these hurdles, and the 9,600 tons-per-year base oil plant in Nizhnekamsk- Russias only PAO facility - is now up and running.

Photo courtesy of Nizhnekamskneftekhim

Tatneft restarted PAO production at its base oil plant in Nizhnekamsk, Russia, after an eight-year hiatus. The PAO plant is owned by Tatneft-Nizhnekamskneftekhim Oil, a 75-25 joint venture between Tatarstan’s oil major and chemicals company Nizhnekamskneftekhim.

The first commercial batches of PAOs used for production of synthetic oils have been produced, the company said in its Feb. 26 news release. These products include 2 centiStoke, 4 cSt, 6 cSt and 12 cSt PAO.

Tatneft said that its auxiliary units for production of oligomers of decene-1 are back on their designed operating mode. Decene and dodecene are the lengths of normal alpha olefins most frequently used to make PAOs.

The company said the plant is now also able to produce a 20 cSt cut thanks to process improvements aided by technology developed by the Moscow-based Institute of Problems of Chemical Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The PAO plant is owned by Tatneft-Nizhnekamskneftekhim Oil, a 75-25 joint venture between Tatarstans oil major and chemicals company Nizhnekamskneftekhim. It includes a blending plant where the company produces semi-synthetic and synthetic motor oils and other synthetics such as vacuum and compressor oils.

Gabbas Ilyasov, Nizhnekamskneftekhims deputydirector, told an industry event that the plant can produce up to 3,100 t/y of PAO in the 2 cSt to 12 cSt range and 6,500 t/y of 20 cSt product.

The PAO production will allow us to expand our assortment of high quality products and mark our presence in the domestic lubricant market, the company said.

The PAO plant opened in December 2003 but halted operation in 2010 because of a disruption in supply of linear alpha olefin feedstock from Nizhnekamskneftekhims nearby chemical complex. A few years later, Tatneft-Nizhnekamskneftekhim Oil announced it would restart production by the end of 2015, but delays ensued.

An industry insider at that time told Lube Report that the company delayed its preparation work due to the international sanctions imposed on Russia for its military actions in Ukraine.

According to my knowledge, the company is experiencing problems with the supply of automated systems for the plants processes management, said Oleg Tsvetkov back in 2015. At that time he was head of the lubricants department at VNIINP, the Moscow-based All Russia Research Institute for Oil Refining.

Back in 2015, the price tag for the revamp and the production expansion was estimated at 450 million rubles (U.S. $8.8 million based on exchange rates at that time).