Ayrat Safin: ‘Nizhnekamsk is my homeland, I was born here, my children were born here’
A hereditary chemist, an experienced industrial worker, inventor, a talented manager and an avid fisherman — the portrait of the new director general of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC by Realnoe Vremya
Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC shareholders supported the candidacy of a new director general of the enterprise at a meeting of the board of directors on 27 February. Ayrat Safin who had chaired Ethylene plant at Kazanorgsintez PJSC for seven years was chosen. The general public knows little about him. However, specialists from petrochemistry — both Russian colleagues and foreign partners — are very familiar with Ayrat Safin. It is a person who made his way from operator to director of a big ethylene plant, a self-made man and a very reliable, competent specialist — this is an opinion of his colleagues in the sector. He has both introduced new technologies and big modernisation behind. He was back in Nizhnekamsk on 27 February, in his native city where he was introduced to the NKNK management after being appointed. Realnoe Vremya has collected well-known facts about his to familiarise our readers with the new director general of the flagship of Russian petrochemistry too.
Machinist, economist and manager
Like most managers of Kazanorgsintez, Ayrat Safin got two specialised university degrees. He graduated in Machines and Units of Chemical Enterprises and Building Materials Factories by Kazan State Technological University in 1998. He got an education as a manager in Economics and Company Management by the same major university of the Tatarstan chemical industry in 2000.
He began working as car mechanic and machine operator
Ayrat Safin began working almost immediately after school and simultaneously continued his studies. He worked as a car mechanic and battery technician in the road transport shop at Nizhnekamsk Factory of Construction and Metal Works JSC for four years. His career has been linked with the chemistry industry only since 1997. Moreover, Safin dedicated almost 8 years to Nizhnekamskneftekhim. From 1997 to 2001, he worked as a machine operator and then head of a subdivision in Synthetic Rubber plant at Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC. From 2001 to 2005, he occupied different posts in Polystyrene and Gas Condensate Processing plant and gained huge experience in different production-related issues.
Participation in preparation for launch of three new plants
Ayrat Safin comes from the team of today’s Director General of Kazanorgsintez PJSC Farid Minigulov. Mr Minigulov explains how they all together managed to build and launch three new chemical plants in a row. A plant at Nizhnekamskneftekhim was the first to be launched. It was Polystyrene plant at NKNK where Minigulov worked as a chief engineer then. The same team built and launched a complex of two plants in Kazan from 2004 to 2008 — a bisphenol A and polycarbonates plant at Kazanorgsintez.
Farid Minigulov led the project, and several specialists who already had experience in implementing such projects moved with him from Nizhnekamsk at once. Ayrat Safin was one of them, he joined Kazanorgsintez in 2005 as head of the shop in Polycarbonates plant, which was under construction. This factory was successfully built and put into operation, it became not only the only plant in Russia but also one of the few around the world to be built by the safest phosgene-free technology.
“We built several plants together, Ayrat Safin was already one of the key people in the project during the construction of Polycarbonates plant. He participated in all stages from design, licensing to equipment purchase and assembly,” Farid Minigulov director general of Kazanorgsintez PJSC remembers. It wasn’t easy, the launch team had to adapt the existing technology to the operation below zero because such plants had been built only in warm countries before Kazanorgsintez.
Ayrat Safin showed off as an inventor precisely working in Polycarbonates plant when the new technology had to be adapted to Russian winter conditions. He was awarded the badge Expert of Inventiveness and Rationalisation.
Kazanorgsintez’s key projects on bisphenol A and polycarbonate production, Nizhnekamskneftekhim’s polystyrene project were implemented personally by Vladimir Presnyakov, the vice director general of TAIF JSC in petrochemistry and oil refining, a board member of Kazanorgsintez PJSC. His positive review and recommendations also significantly influenced the choice of Ayrat Safin’s candidacy for Farid Minigulov’s team back in the days and later as director general of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC.
Management of 1,000-people staff
In 2013, Ayrat Safin moved as a chief technologist to Kazanorgsintez’s Ethylene plant and chaired the plant during the same year. Ethylene plant is the first in the technology chain at Kazanorgsintez PJSC and one of the oldest plants in the company. It occupies the biggest territory and is considered one of the largest plants of KOS. Its staff totalled from 850 to 1,000 people at different times. The plant speaks very warmly about Ayrat Safin — over seven years of management of the plant, he earned a reputation as a strict but fair manager. It is not accidental that communities and accounts of Kazanorgsintez in social networks were full of comments of congratulations with a tinge of envy of Nizhnekamsk citizens on the day of his appointment at NKNK.
“We have worked with Mr Safin as director of Ethylene plant since 2014. He mastered ethylene production for six years from scratch and quite succeeded in this technology. He quickly understands issues related to equipment, working conditions, workers. There haven’t been moments he hasn’t paid attention to,” remembers Rustem Sufiyanov, the chief mechanic of the ethylene plant at Kazanorgsintez PJSC.
The staff recalls how Safin came in as chief technologist and then became a director after four months of hard work. “Mr Safin is a fair and exacting manager,” Sufiyanov says. “He has been adept at every doubtful moment, situation. He hasn’t accused anybody without foundation, at the same time, he has expressed insistence when carrying out programmes. It has never been possible to fudge the issue. He has always required all tasks to be performed, no matter if it is big or small.” He also noted that if there were difficulties, Ayrat Safin always helped himself if it was within his depth or attracted other subdivisions and structures of Kazanorgsintez to resolve the issue.
“I would note Mr Safin’s determination,” says Aleksey Belov, the chief engineer of Ethylene plant at Kazanorgsintez PJSC. “New pyrolysis furnaces were built in the factory, existing units were modernised. He led these projects from the beginning of their design to the implementation on the spot. If a problem arose, he immediately joined its resolution: he met with executives to get it moving.”
Five years of modernisation of KOS ethylene plant
Ethylene production is considered one of the most complicated in chemistry. During five years, Ayrat Safin actively participated in modernising the Orgsintez’s ethylene plant with a capacity of over 500,000 tonnes a year. A new dual chamber furnace by Technip was launched in 2015, and another four furnaces were built in 2018 as a test. Ultimately, the third big project is a transition of a part of the unit to working by propane as feedstock. “Due to a shortage of supplies from Orenburg, it was made a decision to use refined propane as alternative feedstock,” said Ayrat Safin. “Two stages have been completed nowadays, the third stage is underway now.” Safin managed to launch the main part of the project an heir will have to finish it. In Farid Minigulov’s opinion expressed on 27 February, the new director of the ethylene plant at Kazanorgsintez PJSC hasn’t been appointed yet.
With experience in environmental projects in factory
Special attention was paid to the environment in each of the projects aimed to modernise Ethylene plant. All projects were carefully designed considered all environmental requirements together with TAIF and Director of KOS Farid Minigulov. However, at the same time, with a careful and scrupulous approach, Ayrat Safin’s team managed to find ways of a more effective reduction of the environmental impact and realise them. For instance, only the last four furnaces are to reduce the amount of emissions four times with current production volumes.
Examination of international experience of ethylene production
During the modernisation of the ethylene plant at Kazanorgsintez, Ayrat Safin examined experiences of ethylene production in Germany, France and the Netherlands for long. He had internships in Technip’s plants — it is a licensor of the project at KOS. Technip is the world’s leader in project management, engineering and construction for the oil and gas industry. The company’s staff exceeds 32,000 around the world, Technip’s portfolio includes engineering and construction of 10 main completely integrated petrochemical facilities around the world as well as a big number of separate petrochemical factories.
He bites the bullet and knows how to assume responsibility
Over years of work in petrochemistry, Ayrat Safin has managed to participate in a lot of projects on different scales including in construction, modernisation and launch of new capacities, he has managed to defend his proposals and stance and deliver them to his colleagues. “There have been a lot of stories and situations over the years of work, we both have argued and looked for solutions, we constantly work in close contact,” Farid Minigulov recalls.
Safin has a big experience in dealing with supervisory bodies and working in the Tatarstan economy’s key projects under the spotlight of officials of the Republic of Tatarstan.
“He is a very diligent, curious, positive, very hard-working person,” says Mr Minigulov. “Most importantly, he is a good manager and knows how to assume responsibility paying for everything he was tasked with. It is a very valuable quality.”
Hereditary chemist and native Nizhnekamsk citizen
Nizhnekamsk isn’t an accidental city in Ayrat Safin’s fate. “I come from Nizhnekamsk, it is my homeland, my land, I was born here, my children were born in Nizhnekamsk. There is nothing new to me here,” Ayrat Safin says. He was born in Nizhnekamsk in 1975, graduated from school and studied. He got married and brings up three children — they all were born in Nizhnekamsk too.
Safin is a hereditary chemist. His father is a veteran of Nizhnekamskneftekhim, he worked as an equipment operator in the enterprise for many years.
Avid fisherman and athlete
Childhood spent on the Kama River’s banks formed Ayrat Safin’s big passion for fishing forever. He is said to be a fan of a healthy lifestyle who could be regularly caught in family getaways: on skis in winter and on a bicycle in summer. “He participated in a bicycle rate together with his wife and children. He is a big fan of water polo, he has visited almost all competitions of Sintez team,” Aleksey Belov, the chief engineer of the ethylene plant at Kazanorgsintez PJSC, says about him.
Kazanorgsintez also remembers that Russian Ski Run cannot help but include Ayrat Safin. His team at work followed its leader too: workers of Ethylene plant at Kazanorgsintez are one of the most active participants in competitions and amateur tournaments.
Ayrat Safin is also famous as a big fan of team sports — hockey and football. As a big fan, he has tried not to miss a match of Rubin, Ak Bars and Neftekhimik.
Ayrat Safin has drawn the attention of the management of TAIF to demonstrated competencies and accomplishments at work over the years of labour. This played a role — he was noticed, and it was proposed to declare his candidacy for the post of director general of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC, which was approved by Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov.
Photo courtesy of Roman Khasayev, Vladimir Tunik and press service of Kazanorgsintez PJSC
Born: 01.08.1975 in Nizhnekamsk.
Education: in Units of Chemical Enterprises and Building Materials Factories by Kazan State Technological University (1998 ), Economics and Company Management by Kazan State Technological University (2000).
- car mechanic, battery technician in the road transport shop at Nizhnekamsk Factory of Construction and Metal Works JSC (Nizhnekamsk)
- 1996–1997 — sales director at Fundament company LLC, Moscow
- 1997–1997 — metalworker and repairer in the mechanical repair shop at Plant No. 1 in Synthetic Rubber Production Plant at Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC (Nizhnekamsk)
- 1997–1999 — catalyst preparation operator, chemical reagent production operator in Rubber Polymerisation shop in Synthetic Rubber plant at Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC (Nizhnekamsk)
- 1999–2001 — head of divisions in Rubber Polymerisation shop in Synthetic Rubber plant at Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC (Nizhnekamsk)
- 200 –2003 — mechanic of Polystyrene shop of Polystyrene and Gas Condensate Processing plant at Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC (Nizhnekamsk)
- 2003–2004 — vice chief mechanic of Polystyrene and Gas Condensate Processing plant at Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC (Nizhnekamsk)
- 2004–2005 — head of Rubber Polymerisation shop in Synthetic Rubber plant at Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC (Nizhnekamsk)
- 2005–2013 — head of the shop of Biphenyl and Polycarbonate Synthesis shop of Polycarbonates plant at Kazanorgsintez PJSC (Kazan)
- 2013– chief technologist of Ethylene plant at Kazanorgsintez PJSC (Kazan)
- 2013–2020 — director of Ethylene plant at Kazanorgsintez PJSC (Kazan
Awards: gratitude of Kazanorgsintez PJSC(2006); badge Expert in Inventiveness and Rationalisation (2012); a letter of commendation of the administration of Kirov and Moscow Districts of Kazan (2017); badge 60 Years of Society of Inventors and Innovators of Tatarstan (2018).
Marital status: married, has a son and two daughters.