Lukoil, Russian Railways to Open Grease Plant

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Russian grease maker Intesmo, a joint venture between Lukoil and Russian Railways, is ready to launch its new grease plant early next month to supply the countrys vast railway sector and to compete with imports, Lukoil told Lube Report.

Intesmo (Innovative Grease Technologies) is a 75-25 joint venture between Russias biggest lube maker Lukoil and Russian Railways (RZhD), countrys national railway monopoly.

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The 1 billion rubles (U.S. $28 million), 30,000 tons per year grease plant is located at the site of Lukoils Volgograd refinery. The opening ceremony is scheduled for Sept. 8, and Lukoil President Vagit Alekperov and RZhDs head Vladimir Yakunin are among the high officials expected to attend.

The plants technology comprises units for continuous production and units for batch production of several NLGI-category greases, Oleg Mosin, Intesmos general director, told Lube Report on Monday. We use six types of thickeners – lithium, K lithium, calcium, K calcium, aluminum and sodium. The plant features four packaging self-cleaning pipelines.

Finished products will be packed in variety of forms, from 200-liter barrels, to 18, 10 and 1-liter buckets, to 1-liter and 500-milliliter cans, cartridges and 100 milliliter tubes.

The plant started to work in test mode in mid-2012 when a pilot unit for product and technology try-outs and certification testing commenced. From 2011 to late 2013 the company produced around 22,000 tons of greases, mostly for railway needs. The Volgograd plant will fully replace the outdated Kuzaks facility, the Moscow-based Kuskovsky Plant for Consistent Greases, a RZhD grease production subsidiary.

While the largest part of the new plants output is meant for the railway monopoly, it will also supply Russias industry and consumer sectors, and lesser grease volumes are planned for export.

We will produce the main Russian GOST standard products, and we are ready to compete with the imported products that cover the main application areas. We will choose the markets considering the efficiency [of the sales], Mosin said.

Grease demand in Russia amounts to around 55,000 to 60,000 t/y, and Intesmo hopes to meet up to 50 percent of the countrys grease demand. Imports play a big role in Russias grease market, and Intesmo will compete with them. Around one third of the greases consumed in Russia annually are imported by the Western companies such as BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil and Shell, as well as from Ukraine.

Lukoil is Russias largest lubricants producer. Last year it held 48 percent of the countrys lubricants market. RZhD operates more than 86,000 kilometers of railway and is among the worlds largest railway companies.