Investment in future opportunities, including in innovations to reduce the consumption of natural resources, materials and energy are considered by PETROTEL-LUKOIL as its strategic priority for the following period.
2021 is a special year for LUKOIL. It marks 30 years of development, research and implementation of new projects in over 30 countries and four continents.
On this occasion, Alexey Kovalenko – CEO PETROTEL-LUKOIL, shared some thoughts on the achievements as well as prospects of the refinery for the following period.
PETROTEL-LUKOIL refinery has received numerous awards, prizes and medals of honour for its contribution to the development of LUKOIL company. What are the most important and recent achievements of the refinery you run?
Alexey Kovalenko: PETROTEL-LUKOIL has been re-created to be a model of refineries in terms of BAT, in terms of specific refinery indicators and in terms of efficiency and top-quality products. Despite its small processing capacity, the refinery has always fulfilled all challenges, during its strong reconstruction. Despite the social and economic crisis, the current coronavirus pandemic and other factors, PETROTEL-LUKOIL has moved forward with a complete implementation of BREF documents and also of Directive 2013/84/EU related to best available technologies and the Directive 2010/75/EU of the European Parliament, focusing on environmental investment (revamping performed), making ‘PETROTEL-LUKOIL’ become one of the top enterprises in the crude oil refining industry of Romania, significantly improving the crude refining depth – up to 99.5%, and increasing the quality of products; due to the high amount of investment in the revamping interval, we continue the plan on revamping production capacities and safe environment, complying with the General Development Programme of Refinery and UE requirements. The refinery in its modern image meant the Reconstruction of facilities for Crude and Vacuum Distillation, Diesel Hydro-treating, Catalytic Reforming, FCC, Gas Fractionation and Isomerization, Fuel and LPG Loading Facilities as well as construction of new units: Hydro-treatment of FCC Gasoline (Prime G+), New Hydrogen Plants, MTBE-TAME Unit).
Two current major investments with an excellent result for the air quality and environment should be included in this frame of recent achievements, benefits:
- A long-termed revamp of Delayed Coker Unit done on stages is to bring to zero the emissions from processing;
- Construction of a new Sulphur recover unit is to allow zero emissions in the accidental release of Sulphur oxides which may be generated in case of technical incidents.
A good modernization, in terms of energy efficiency, has been done with Vacuum atmospheric distillation heaters and Catalytic reforming heaters, same in case of air compressors. Presently, we are also carrying out the optimization of heat exchange within VAD (Vacuum atmospheric distillation) and Real Time Optimization.
Although last year has been challenging, our Company has found as always, the best solutions to maintain both its employees and facilities and to revive this year AS Phoenix, as our First Executive Vice-president of LUKOIL enjoys saying. REFINERY PETROTEL-LUKOIL has been awarded by the top management of LUKOIL Company, for the best unit (CCR UNIT) and also in February 2021 a good number of managers and processing employees have been awarded medals of honour, diplomas and signs of gratitude for their contribution to the total development of Company. So, we believe that this is a result of a professional work and one based on our team!
What concrete directions do you plan for the following period under the motto ALWAYS MOVING TO A BETTER FUTURE (economic, social, environment, community)?
Alexey Kovalenko: People and Environment are definitely requiring most of our attention now. Environment, because the difficult challenges imposed by technologies, market and climate, are requiring a permanent investment and re-adjustment of our means of technology – currently the refinery is undergoing a short process of maintenance to bring a plus into our main units and most of all to environment, which is a mandatory action not only for this industry but for all of us.
Current modernizations are taking place with: Catalytic Cracking Complex; Delayed Coker Unit; Diesel Hydrotreating Unit.
Currently, there is a number of technological solutions that can significantly reduce CO2 emissions even at highly complex refineries. The most promising solutions are carbon capture and the use of renewable energy to produce hydrogen, the production of modern biofuels and energy efficiency improvement, which we have in mind, and consider to implement.
On the community side, the PETROTEL-LUKOIL refinery has always been present through its charity program and grants offered under Lukoil policies (as mentioned in other editions of this energy magazine) towards social and economic perspectives for the regions where it activates. Thus, an encouragement for young people to preserve traditions of the regions and create career and projects opportunities has been motivating within the grants LUKOIL has implemented in Romania two years ago -Romania is the first EU country where LUKOIL company has brought its tradition of these grants with positive impact and generating continuous results today.
How do you assess the impact of changes imposed by the European Union on the fossil fuels market on refinery’s activity?
Alexey Kovalenko: We live in a world still based on oil, natural gas or coal. If we look at statistics, we may notice that more than 70% of the energy is one based on oil and gas. Nuclear energy has reached 14% and green energy covers our needs somewhere at 9% in Europe. We see that green energy has started growing rapidly, thus our Company has been doing research and included in its Strategy some points as targets both for short and medium term.
The company’s strategy includes some main targets, such as increasing the energy efficiency and technologies supporting green energy in all refineries. Company predictions, based on scientific research and global statistics also referring to transportation, suggest that in the forecast period, European countries will not be able to completely exclude diesel, as commercial transport is the main consumer of diesel in Europe. For a short period, European demand for diesel may even grow.
As a future perspective, we may expect that the share of light grades in the mix of refined feedstock will reduce, that the spreads between light and heavy oils will increase and increasing the spread between dark and light petroleum products will be promoted. Consequently, this will improve the economics of the refinery’s conversion processes. (There is a direct correlation between the production of high-quality light petroleum products and the volume of carbon emissions. The more complex the refinery, the more conversion processes it runs and the more carbon it generates).
According to other companies’ views, between 2020 and 2025, the global distillation capacity will increase by 12 mb/d.
Do you consider, in the following period, to initiate projects dedicated to the production of green energy, possibly by accessing European funds, or you rely exclusively on protecting and supporting the existing production components?
Alexey Kovalenko: The Company shall continuously improve its current facilities and with a view to current challenges we are creating our strategy and analytics and action as to the best of our reserves, environment and employees.
Investment into future opportunities, including into innovations to reduce the environmental impact, to promote energy saving technologies, but keeping up with a perfect output, are considered by our Company as its strategic priority.