Thermographic cameras, ionisers, desinfection: TAIF keeps operating during COVID-19

Maintaining the performance of factories, companies of the Group are resisting the coronavirus epidemic

The forced self-isolation regime was prolonged in Russia until 11 May inclusively. It has been the second month of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, the country has increased the production of test systems, medicines, special medical equipment and means of individual protection many times. The country’s industry is helping to augment the safety margin of the health care system. The capability of the country to mobilise and quickly readjust to the needs of the current situation became possible mainly thanks to effective oil refining, oil, gas and chemical and energy sectors, which are the foundation of activity of TAIF Group. Read in Realnoe Vremya’s report how the Group’s companies are operating during the world coronavirus pandemic and what TAIF is doing to provide safety of the enterprises’ workers.

TAIF on list of core organisations of Russia’s economy

During the global financial crisis, the ongoing sanction policy on Russia and the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic that overlapped with all this, it is especially important for the country to save its economic stability. And TAIF JSC is on the first lines on the first general list of core companies published in early April. The second list of core organisations of the Fuel and Energy Complex of the Russian Federation created by the Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation and published on 17 April includes four key companies of the Group at once: TAIF-NK JSC, Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC, Kazanorgsintez PJSC and TGC-16 JSC.

After the end of the pandemic, many will need the state’s support, if not all sectors of the economy. Oil refiners oriented to the production of car and jet fuel felt a fall in demand from the very first days of the pandemic: the amount of flights collapsed, the number of international and even interregional cargo shipping considerably reduced, car owners are not appearing on roads a lot. Director General of Tatneftekhiminvest-holding PJSC Rafinat Yarullin said this at a meeting of the board of directors.

Sudden fluctuations in prices for hydrocarbon feedstock in world markets have influenced oil refinery and the oil, gas and chemical sector not in the best way. Oil sales are falling. The reserves are full. It is unprofitable to sell the feedstock to the detriment of the economic interests of oil companies. The second quarter of 2020 promises to end with serious losses for oil producing, oil refining, oil, gas and chemical sectors as well as power engineering.

Today the business is focused on performing more important and topical tasks — to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Some plants are repurposed, completely new areas are opening. The subsidiary of Nizhnekamskneftekhim Polymatiz factory and Tatneft’s Elastic increased production volumes of nonwoven fabric to sew medical masks and medical clothes many times, six automated mask production lines were launched in the republic. KVART mastered cord production for them. While enough rubber is manufactured in the republic. The main production is at Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC, which is part of TAIF Group. There are already enough masks produced in Tatarstan to provide workers of all non-stop operating enterprises working on the territory of the enterprise as well as medics, workers of law enforcement agencies, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, public transport drivers.

Aromat factory and POZIS established the production of disinfectants, NKNK will also add its capacities after the certification is completed. The enterprise has already produced a test batch of the disinfectant, which is important during the pandemic. A sample of the disinfectant was sent for a test to Moscow — Russia's consumer protection watchdog Rospotrebnadzor’s Research Institute of Disinfectology.

NKNK: key task is to save production potential and staff

According to Director General of Nizhnekamskneftekhim Ayrat Safin, despite a considerable fall in demand for petrochemical products in the world and Russian markets, they didn’t consider suspending the facility’s operation.

“We have changed our plan for the major overhaul a bit and begun the repairs a bit earlier. We hope by the time our enterprise completes the major overhaul, the situation around the world will have changed. The key task is to withstand this, save the production potential and, first of all, our staff,” Ayrat Safin stressed.

“Strengthened regime, high morale,” this is who the Tatarstan president was told about the organisation of operation and safety provision during Rustam Minnikhanov’s recent visit to Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Nizhnekamskneftekhim didn’t stop the production but switched to a special regime having made necessary changes to the work. All shuttles are disinfected — the enterprise purchased special equipment for this purpose. NKNK created a quick response team to fight COVID-19. Vice Chief Engineer in Process Safety Control and Occupational Safety and Health Ilshat Fatykhov told the president of Tatarstan about the state of affairs at Nizhnekamskneftekhim in general and assured him there weren’t violations and the staff’s morale was high.

“All necessary measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection are being taken. Everyone is provided with protective equipment. The delivery of personnel to and from work has been organized in accordance with the requirements of Rospotrebnadzor. The temperature is measured without contact on the passageways, and the hands are disinfected with antiseptics. We have organized the disinfection of vehicles, passageways, stops, canteens and the company's territory with a special disinfectant solution. Additional checkpoints have been set up for employees of third-party organizations and Nizhnekamskneftekhim,” noted Ilshat Fatykhov. In addition, NKNK as well as TAIF Group in general arranged scheduled work to test the employees for COVID-19.

“There are antiseptics and masks. The workers who begin their shift do a round and leave the facility through another exit. After that, all surfaces are cleaned here. Employees of another shift receive a message that the room has been disinfected and they start their work,” the president was told about the changes made to the operation of the enterprise in the isoprene-monomer plant. After modernisation of the production in 2019, the feedstock production, which is necessary to make synthetic rubber, rose to 333,000 tonnes.

The construction site of a new ethylene facility — EP-600 — is also buzzing with activity. Propylene, butadiene, benzene and related petrochemical products will be made there besides ethylene. This will enable to significantly expand and upgrade the line of products made by NKNK.

“Such construction projects can’t stop. It is necessary to bring people, isolate them for some time and keep working,” Rustam Minnikhanov stressed.

The construction of a 495 MW new gas steam turbine for the central heat power plant goes on.

“All necessary measures to avoid the spread of the coronavirus infection are taken on the construction site. Access to the construction site is restricted. Talks are being held online. The general contractor and client’s staff are taking all preventive measures, they are provided with means of protection,” Director of GST-CHPP Almaz Mukhametzyanov noted in his report.

The health control of the workers who are entering the enterprises and plants of the facility was automated.

The checkpoints were equipped with special thermographic cameras that can recognise faces and automatically spot people with a high body temperature. When such people are detected, the camera gives a sound signal drawing the attention of the security staff and medics on duty.

“If a person who has a temperature of 37 degrees goes to work, the marker turns green and shows the temperature. If the temperature is from 37 to 37,2, it turns yellow. And if body temperature of a person passing through the camera is above 37,2 degrees, it becomes red,” Director of the Automation Centre at Nizhnekamskneftekhim Azat Gibadullin explained to Realnoe Vremya.

The technical novelty will enable to significantly increase the measures preventing the infection from penetration to the plant, thus saving the workers of the facility themselves and maintaining the effectiveness of activity of Nizhnekamskneftekhim plants and enterprises.

KOS continues production

Checkpoints of Kazanorgsintez PJSC were the first among TAIF Group’s companies to be equipped with thermographic cameras. The central checkpoint was equipped first, then the factory’s management was equipped with them. The technology was tested in real conditions precisely at KOS and after proving its effectiveness with a big number of people began to be used in the Group in general. The system effectively complemented the current order of the workers’ temperature measurement in the enterprise’s subdivisions.

In addition, now KOS facilities, and also the first in the Group, are being equipped with industrial active air treatment systems. 27 systems were purchased first, each of which can treat the air on an area up to 700 metres. They were installed in the ethylene plant’s operator’s rooms, mobile systems with a lower capacity were placed in offices of the factory’s management. Another 40 sets were purchased later, which were connected in all plants’ operator’s rooms and big offices. It is planned to buy another lot now to equip the rest of the area. The system, which is absolutely harmless for people, not only effectively cleans the air from small particles of dust and viruses now but also will be useful in the future because it effectively gets rid of pathogenic microbes, mould and fungi.

The new equipment became an effective addition to a set of measures that are already taken. So before the WHO declared the epidemic that broke out in December 2019 a pandemic, that’s to say, on 6 March, Kazanorgsintez introduced restrictive measures to prevent the coronavirus infection, which intensified and updated as the situation with COVID-19 aggravated around the world. The enterprise is regularly disinfecting all surfaces of every room at KOS with disinfectants. When shifts change, the checkpoints of the enterprises are disinfected in a special regime — all turnstiles and frames are thoroughly disinfected every 15 minutes. The cabins of all shuttles delivering the facility’s workers are disinfected too before every trip and afterwards.

Dispensers with disinfectant are installed at the entrance to the enterprise and in office buildings of KOS. It is also recommended to air the rooms at least three times a day. The workers’ temperature is taken at least once in four hours during the shift. If somebody’s temperature goes above 37 degrees, such an employee immediately goes to the health post, which has been operating in a special intense regime since the beginning of the pandemic.

Most Kazanorgsintez office workers have been telecommuting since the beginning of the epidemic. It took just eight days to establish effective work in the new conditions.

Chief specialist of KOS in information technologies and automated control systems and metrology Anatoly Stroyev told Realnoe Vremya in an interview about how this process is organised.

“To date, about 300 employees have been transferred to full-time remote work. These are mainly divisions of the plant management, such as accounting, commerce, finance, UIT, legal department, technical department, production department, press service, department of the chief power engineer, OSBO. But this number is growing, and new requests for remote access connection are received almost every day,” noted Anatoly Stroyev.

The enterprise is strictly following requirements of social distancing. Stop lines indicating a safe distance for the workers appeared in the canteens. Disposable tableware, which is then thrown away, is being used to give portions of food.

All roads, bus stops, loading sites and the territory in front of the Kazanorgsintez checkpoints are disinfected with sodium hypochlorite solution. The production of a low concentration of sodium hypochlorite at KOS began as early as 2017. The eco-friendly compound instead of liquid chlorine is used to disinfect water. And during the pandemic, according to Rospotrebnadzor’s recommendation, the enterprise expanded production volumes and began to apply it to disinfect streets with no harm to key manufacturing processes. The disinfection is carried out in the morning, on days without precipitation.

The set of measures that are taken enabled not to stop the production processes at Kazanorgsintez PJSC even for a minute providing the production of goods that the economy in general and the health care system in particular need so much.

Energy is vital sector

This is why it is impossible to stop central heat power plants. Light and heat in houses and flats, in health care establishments and offices, kindergartens, schools and universities, energy and hot water and steam for enterprises — all this is generated and supplied in necessary volumes by power engineering facilities. Factories of TAIF Group and a considerable part of the population of Kazan and Nizhnekamsk receive habitual heat and comfort thanks to the operation of the Group’s generating company — TGC-16 JSC.

“Power engineering is a vital, life-sustaining sector. Nothing will dramatically change soon in power engineering and for TGC-16. All plans that were made, prepared in the last few years will be performed. Plants can’t stop. We will work as we worked, we will generate electrical energy and heat as we did. We planned repairs and scheduled equipment upgrades, we will implement these plans. The pandemic has affected us only because some foreign material suppliers are delaying supplies citing force majeure. Such problems used to arise with China, now it is mainly India.

We are reconsidering agreements according to plan, considering the possibility of refusing purchases in India and switching to purchases in China. Unfortunately, some things aren’t made in Russia from a perspective quality, and we have to purchase them abroad. As for the rest, everything goes according to plan,” Director General of the generating company Eduard Galeyev shared in an interview with Realnoe Vremya’s journalist.

Power engineering also felt some reduction in consumption because of the suspension of operation of some factories. Also, there is a seasonal reduction of consumption of the same heat by the population. This affected the fall in wholesale prices in the country’s energy market. Nevertheless, Galeyev is sure that this phenomenon is temporary and won’t have a great impact on the sector. They will have to tighten their belts in some areas, postpone repairs and equipment replacement. But when the pandemic is over, the economy in general and power engineering will gradually recover. At this moment the director general of TGC-16 as well as the other companies of TAIF Group calls the continuation of operation and conservation of the staff key.

“Unfortunately, we can’t allow the quick response repair staff of the plant to telecommute. They have to go to work every day and do their job every day. But we are strictly meeting all requirements of Rospotrebnadzor. We have shuttles, they are disinfected before people enter them. People’s temperature is taken at the checkpoints, the presence of masks is checked, the general state is examined. People don’t gather at the checkpoint, go to their workplace. There is control during the day: temperature is taken from time to time, dispensers with a disinfecting solution are placed everywhere. People’s temperature is also taken after they finish their round. Explanatory talks are held about the danger of the coronavirus and how one should protect from it. The recommended distance is respected during meals, disinfection requirements are met. Thanks to these steps, thank God we don’t have infections at the moment. Ionisers are placed everywhere, including in my office. The people are provided with a month’s supply of masks now, first of all, thanks to the support of TAIF Group’s companies. TAIF Group is really a group of companies that actively helps its structures. Nizhnekamskneftekhim and its subsidiary Polymatiz help us very much with receiving masks,” the director general of the generating company briefly talked about the measures taken.

An inspection of Rospotrebnadzor recently visited one of the facilities of TGC-16, Kazan CHPP-3. The inspectors saw how the enterprise was providing and, most importantly, meeting safety requirements during the epidemic. The evaluation of the preventive job is positive. But anyway the generating company considers that no case registered among the CHPP staff is the main achievement of its operation in this area in over almost 1,5 months of the pandemic amid a growing number of infections around the world, Russia, Tatarstan.

TAIF-NK: strict sanitary regime

Immediately after declaring a special sanitary and epidemiological regime in Tatarstan, TAIF-NK created a quick response team to prevent the spread of the coronavirus infection that is daily receiving information about the epidemiological situation. Access to the general public has been restricted since the first days of the pandemic, business trips, visits of foreign delegations have been cancelled in the enterprises and in TAIF Group in general.

All negotiations and consultations have been switched to the format of tele- and videoconferencing. Correspondence and documentation are sent via the electronic document management system, as well as corporate email. In case of special need, it is transmitted strictly through authorized persons.

People have been instructed to observe social distance both at the production facilities and outside TAIF-NK and are well aware of their own responsibility for their own health, as well as the health of colleagues and relatives. Each employee has been provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) at the required level, the plants and entrance checkpoints have been provided with antiseptics dispensers, the stocks of which are replenished when necessary.

Before coming to work, the company's employees independently measure their body temperature and immediately contact medical institutions at the first symptoms of cold-related deceases. At all three refineries of the refinery complex, non-contact temperature measurement of employees begins at the checkpoint and continues throughout the working shift (at least four times a day). The health status of the company's employees is being closely monitored by six health centres that have worked on high alert since the beginning of the pandemic. If adverse physiological indicators are detected, employees are sent home with the strong recommendation to seek aid from medical institutions in the city.

The premises are regularly disinfected and ventilated to prevent the spread of infection. Special attention is paid to passageways and canteens. A convenient and safe service schedule for employees from various TAIF-NK divisions has been developed in the premises for eating, which excludes the possibility of contact. Besides, ozonizing air recirculators have been installed in the canteens. Safe for people, they destroy harmful microbes and viruses due to UV radiation.

Time to help

TAIF Group strives to be a socially-oriented business in any situation. During the pandemic, the Group's companies not only have not reduced but even began to pay more attention to solving socially significant issues. Different ones. For example, thinking not only about today but also about the time when the pandemic and the self-isolation regime ends, the employees of the parent company of TAIF Group — TAIF PSC together with longtime partner — Turkish construction company Enka İnşaat ve Sanayi A.Ş and PARK-Service landscape company — under the leadership of Ilgiz Latypov, the deputy director general of TAIF PSC for construction and major repair, organised a subbotnik in Fuchs Garden — one of the beautiful places of Kazan, which lies at the top of the bank of the Kazanka River. Besides, they continued to decorate the slope itself, planting hundreds of firs, larches, pines and cedars on it.

The irrigation equipment of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC disinfects roads and streets of the city, bus stop shelters and sidewalks with disinfectants on a daily, or rather nightly basis, with the approval and support of TAIF Group management, taking on the most important mission — to protect the lives and health of residents of the petrochemical capital of the republic.

In connection with the pandemic, schoolchildren in Tatarstan, as well as throughout Russia, have been forced to switch to distance learning. But not all families today have modern gadgets that allow teachers to perform tasks on special Internet platforms and support video conferencing. TAIF Group companies provided the families of their employees with many children with the required number of tablets.

Veterans of the Great Patriotic War, home front workers and veterans of TAIF Group productions, as well as people with disabilities are constantly treated with attention and care. Food packages are delivered to them, and volunteer teams formed from volunteers are ready to provide the purchase and delivery of not only the necessary products but also medicines and medications necessary to maintain the health of people who are forced to stay at home in self-isolation.

Hundreds more volunteers from among the employees of Nizhnekamskneftekhim and Kazanorgsintez have been provided with the material produced by Polymatiz, and they are sewing protective masks at home,which are still not enough for everyone in the republic. Ready-made personal protective equipment is transferred to medical institutions of the republic, police officers, emergency situations, ambulance crews, companies that provide passenger transportation — those who, like the employees of TAIF Group, continue to work, despite the difficult epidemiological situation.

In mid-April, when the curve of the graph showing the number of infected people in Russia and Tatarstan began to climb steeper, Kazanorgsintez allocated funds for the purchase of 1,200 special protective anti-plague suits to provide doctors and medical staff of the Republican Clinical Hospital, who were to work in a reserve hospital designed to receive COVID-19 patients in severe form.

TAIF-NK is repairing the apartment of veteran front-line soldier Panfil Pavlov. TGC-16 has announced that all funds planned to be spent on organizing events dedicated to the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War will be redirected to financial assistance and the formation of additional food packages for veterans affiliated with the company.

By Arseny Favstritsky

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