Gazprom Eyes Omsk Upgrade


Gazprom Neft announced last week that it will begin a major revamp of its refinery in Omsk, Russia – a project that will provide feedstock for a long-discussed upgrade of the refinerys base oil plant.

The Russian energy major did not provide a timeline for its work, but an industry research institute predicts the Omsk plant will produce API Group II and III base stocks by 2020.

The revamp is designed to raise the quality of products made by the refinery. Gazprom said it will begin with site preparation and ordering equipment but that it will soon begin construction of a hydrocracker, one of the key units in the provision of feedstock for higher grade base stocks. Hydrodewaxing and hydrofinishing units will be installed later.

Once the project is complete, the new units will supply 250,000 metric tons per year of feedstock that can be used to make Group II and III oils, according to a July 27 press release.

Vladamir Kapustin, head of the Moscow downstream production research and design institute VNIPI, said that by 2020 the Omsk base oil plant should have capacity to make 150,000 metric tons per year of Group II and 75,000 t/y of Group III.

The Omsk refinery currently has capacity to produce 280,000 t/y of Group I base oils. In 2008, Gazprom disclosed a four-stage plan to upgrade the facility to make Group II and III. That plan included construction of a hydrocracker and was described as having a five- to seven-year timeline.

Photo: Gazprom Neft

Work on the project kept getting put off, though, and in recent years the company has not mentioned it.

Stephen B. Ames of SBA Consulting, Pepper Pike, Ohio, said a base oil upgrade would serve Gazprom very well, but he noted that many such projects have suffered repeated delays in Russia.

Under sanctions, they [Gazprom] have been quite successful in gaining additional domestic customers, Ames told a reporter.But most of the new business is industrial lubricants, where Gazpromnefts existing Group I base oils meet the quality requirements.

In order to make similar gains in the more desirable, higher-value automotive lubricants sector, cost effective access to Group II and Group III base oils is an imperative, he said. Gazpromnefts professed strategy appears to be well grounded provided the Omsk project can be completed in a timely fashion – a rarity in Russian base oil refining.

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