Tatarstan's economy driver turns 53: Nizhnekamskneftekhim holds its position despite global downturn

Tatarstan's economy driver turns 53: Nizhnekamskneftekhim holds its position despite global downturn
Photo: Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC

Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC, part of TAIF Group, is of strategic importance for the Republic of Tatarstan and the country as a whole. Today, the petrochemical company is one of the main components of the economic development of the region, which largely determines the level of well-being and social security of the residents of Tatarstan. On December 25, 1960, the first sled-tractor train arrived at the site of the future construction, and in 1967 the first batch of products was received at the petrochemical plant. Since then, for more than half a century, Nizhnekamskneftekhim has not lost its leading position, producing products that are competitive in the domestic and foreign markets. Read about the success story and no less ambitious plans for the future in the material of Realnoe Vremya.

“A good job starts with a settled life”

July 31, 1967. The date that will forever go down in the history of Tatarstan. On this day, the first products were received at the сentral gas fractionation plant of Nizhnekamskneftekhim. This is how the dynamic development of the plant began. Here is how this day is described in historical reports:

“In the evening of the same day, a solemn meeting was held on the square near the city cinema Voskhod. From his rostrum it sounded: “A remarkable victory has been won on the Kama banks. The State Commission signed the act on commissioning of the first stage of the Central gas fractionation unit (CGFU)and approved the schedule for the development of the design capacity of the unit.”

The period of construction and launch of production facilities of the first complex of the plant was carried out for four years, starting from May 1963. Over this time, six large rectification columns with a height of about 40 metres were installed, overpasses were built, kilometres of pipes were laid, equipment was strapped, cooling towers and other facilities of the plant's property were built.

The period of construction and launch of production facilities of the first complex of the plant was carried out for four years, starting from May 1963. Photo: Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC

A combined schedule was used to speed up commissioning and capacity utilisation. At the units, the builders were doing their job, while the installers were already assembling plates in the columns, and the maintenance staff was conducting an audit of the equipment.

At the same time, along with the plant, they started to build houses, shops, libraries, kindergartens, schools, hospitals, sports facilities, heat and water supply facilities, and treatment facilities in the city. “A good job begins with a settled life," Nikolay Lemaev, the founder of Nizhnekamskneftekhim, said during his lifetime.

Dynamic development of the plant

At the end of May 1967, a 245 km long product pipeline started operating, which supplied raw materials from Minnibayev to the CGFU. Then the first torch was lit. The right solemnly to light it was given to the first director-general of the chemical plant, Nikolay Lemaev. He fired a flare gun and lit the gas above the pipe.

Already 3 years after receiving the first batch of products, in 1970, the chemical plant launched new complexes for the production of isoprene monomer, isoprene rubber, trimethylcarbinol, tiles, mastic and other petrochemical products.

In 1972, the second unit of the gas fractionating unit was commissioned, making the plant the largest in Europe. Photo: Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC

In 1972, the second unit of the gas fractionating unit was commissioned, making the plant the largest in Europe. Over the years, the range of products has been expanded.

In the 1980s, the plant continued its progressive development and new production facilities appeared, even though the economy of the Soviet Union was generally stagnant. Before the collapse of the USSR, Nizhnekamskneftekhim had launched the production of polyethers, alkyl phenols, surfactants and other petrochemical products.

In the 1990s, when many companies just wanted to survive, Nizhnekamskneftekhim was developing by putting into operation the production of alpha-olefins and triethylaluminium. In the 2000s, the company launched production of polystyrene, polypropylene, polyethylene and ABS plastics.

Moving on

Over the past 6 years, Nizhnekamskneftekhim has put into operation a number of production facilities: the fourth line of production of polystyrene, production of linear alpha-olefins at the plant of oligomers and glycols, production of formaldehyde, isobutylene, isoprene at the plant of isoprene-monomer, two new pyrolysis furnaces at the plant of ethylene.

In 2019, the plant of oligomers and glycols started producing new products — high-molecular polyethylene glycol. Photo: Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC

In 2019, the plant of oligomers and glycols started producing new products — high-molecular polyethylene glycol. The products are widely used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. To start production, Nizhnekamskneftekhim introduced the new unique equipment — a crystallization unit, as well as a robotic product packaging line.

The production of a new brand of rubber SKD-N 44M1 started on the modernized production line of the SKDN plant of synthetic rubbers. The company's pilot plant developed a technology for producing three new brands of synthetic rubbers: DSSK-621, DSSK-628 and DSSK-610. All of them correspond to the 4th and 5th generations of rubbers in terms of performance and environmental friendliness.

With the launch of the new production of DSSK, which is necessary for the so-called green tyres, Nizhnekamskneftekhim will become one of the few companies in the world that produces all the main types of synthetic rubbers for the tyre industry. The production capacity for the production of DSSK is 60,000 tonnes a year. In 2019, Nizhnekamskneftekhim launched a new production of the KDI-M catalyst, which meets the needs of existing production facilities of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC in dehydrogenation catalysts in full.

A new benzene extraction unit was brought to full capacity at the ethylene plant. It optimised the processing the benzene-containing fraction inside the production, unloaded existing energy-intensive units, and increased the production of benzene to 265,000 tonnes a year.

Breakthrough in the field of ecology

Speaking about the development of the petrochemical giant, it is impossible to pass by the topic of ecology. Last year was a breakthrough year for Nizhnekamskneftekhim in addressing environmental issues. The company completed the second stage of the large-scale reconstruction of biological treatment facilities and the construction of a new 15 km long industrial waste water collector. The collector increased the capacity of the system for transporting wastewater to treatment facilities, increased its safety and reduced the environmental burden.

The company completed the second stage of reconstruction of biological treatment facilities and construction of the new industrial wastewater collector. Photo: Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC

During the second stage of the reconstruction of biological treatment facilities, outdated mechanical treatment facilities for chemically polluted wastewater — sand traps — were replaced, a collector switching chamber was built, and additional treatment stages were included in the technological scheme in the form of a pool for collecting trap product and a sewage preaeration unit. At the mechanical treatment unit, one of the best technologies in Europe for treatment of steam-gas mixtures — the biofiltration method — was introduced. Specialists could select a system of biofilters with a treatment efficiency of up to 95%.

In total, more than 3 billion rubles were allocated for the reconstruction of the BTF and the construction of an off-site industrial reservoir. In general, 423 events were implemented within the 4th environmental programme from 2014 to 2019. The total cost of environmental protection during this period was about 29 billion rubles.

Nizhnekamskneftekhim purchased and launched a special mobile ecomonitoring post that gives the opportunity to quickly remove a complete environmental cross-section of the atmospheric air at any geographical point in the Nizhnekamsk region. The measures implemented under the fourth environmental programme made it possible to improve environmental performance indicators from 2014 to 2019 and reduce the specific consumption of raw materials by 9,7%, water for technical needs — by 10,2%, air emissions — by 18,6%, and heat energy costs — by 6,2%.

Record production volumes

According to last year's reports, Nizhnekamskneftekhim shows a steady positive trend, despite the global economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In 2019, the company produced 2,5 million tonnes of products. The main contribution to production volumes was traditionally made by rubbers — 679,000 tonnes and plastics — 717,000 tonnes.

In 2019, the company produced 2,5 million tonnes of products. Photo: Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC

Last year, Nizhnekamskneftekhim's revenue amounted to more than 174 billion rubles, profit from sales of almost 28 billion rubles, and net profit — 23 billion 708 million rubles. The company allocated 45 billion rubles to finance modernization, technical re-equipment, reconstruction, and creation of new production facilities. Thanks to this, record volumes of ethylene, benzene, and styrene production were achieved last year; the output of isoprene from isobutane was increased to 217,000 tonnes.

Social responsibility

All these years, Nizhnekamskneftekhim has developed in close relationship with the city. The largest social facilities in the city, millions of square metres of housing — all this was built under the title of the chemical plant.

The company continues to fulfill its city-forming mission. The company takes special care and attention to improving the quality of life of employees and residents of the city. In 2019, the polyclinic No. 1 was modernised, a burn unit was opened in the city's multi-specialty hospital, and modern ambulances were purchased. Major projects were launched to reconstruct sports facilities and children's health camps.

With the support of TAIF management, Neftekhimik football stadium was reconstructed according to the RFU standards, one of the best shooting ranges in the Volga Region was opened, as well as the Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War of Neftekhimik search team, and the company's Veterans' Council received a new renovated office.

Birthday in special conditions

Nevertheless, the team of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC meets its 53rd birthday and 100th anniversary of TASSR in difficult conditions... From March to May, with the introduction of anti-epidemic restrictions by all countries, about 130 tyre factories were forced to stop in the world, and the remaining production facilities were working under a reduced load. As a result, Nizhnekamskneftekhim reduced the shipment of rubbers. The disrupted logistics led to overstocking of the company's warehouses. In this regard, Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC took all necessary measures to load the existing capacity, retain staff and avoid layoffs, and ensure the payment of salaries to the staff.

During this period, during the pandemic, petrochemists showed more unity and corporate spirit than ever before. They sewed medical masks on their own and distributed them to volunteers, social workers, pensioners and doctors. In April, the company purchased and promptly launched an automated line for the production of masks. Personal protective equipment is produced by the subsidiary company, Polymatiz.

In April, the company purchased and promptly launched an automated line for the production of masks. Photo: Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC

The masks produced by Polymatiz primarily provide TAIF Group employees, as well as medical and law enforcement personnel, and volunteers — those who continue to work during the period of self-isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since April, petrochemists have handed over tens of thousands of medical masks to medical, social and public institutions in the city.

Besides, the company has started industrial production of its own antimicrobial disinfectant Antiseptic DS-1. The disinfectant has passed state registration in Rospotrebnadzor of the Russian Federation. The studies have confirmed its safety and 100% effectiveness in the fight against infectious agents. State registration confirms that the product is approved for production, transportation, purchase, storage, sale and use.

Specialists of production and technical departments, engineers of scientific and technological and design centres of Nizhnekamskneftekhim were engaged in the development of the antiseptic. All the work was carried out in the shortest possible time, after which a trial batch of antiseptic was produced on the basis of the pilot industrial shop of the R&D centre.

Antiseptic DS-1, produced at Nizhnekamskneftekhim, will be used for the needs of TAIF Group — for disinfection of surfaces of premises and vehicles, as well as for hand treatment. Its production is established on the basis of the experimental industrial workshop of the R&D in the amount of more than 16,000 litres a month with the possibility of increasing production.

High intellectual potential and systematic approach

Today, the company continues to implement its investment programme. The main direction of the company's development at the moment is to increase production capacity, including through the construction of the new ethylene complex.

The basic design of the EP-600 project has already been completed, the work continues on the development of working documentation, a construction permit has been obtained, and large-capacity equipment has been delivered and installed.

According to the EP-600 project, deliveries and installation of large-capacity equipment have begun. Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov

The new plant will produce ethylene in the amount of 600,000 tonnes a year, propylene — 272,000, benzene — 246,000, butadiene — 88,000 tonnes. The project was launched in June 2017, when the Memorandum of strategic cooperation was signed between TAIF Group and German Linde AG at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. The general contractor of the project is Turkish Gemont.

Another equally ambitious project is the construction of the steam-generating unit of the CCP-CHP. The main equipment and more than 60% of auxiliary equipment were delivered to the site. Almost 70% of the planned construction and installation works have been completed, and finishing works have begun in production and office premises. The outlines of the future cooling tower with a height of 89 metres are already emerging.

The need to build the CCGT is caused not only by the need for additional electrical power but also by the possibility to use blow-offs from existing plants as fuel. The power plant will reduce the load on the atmosphere by burning gas in special burners of gas turbine installations.

Over its half-century history, the company has experienced many ups and downs, but it has never lost its leading position. High intellectual potential and systematic approach in all areas give the opportunity to produce products of a high degree of conversion, which are in demand around the world. And the implementation of new long-term development plans further strengthens the position of Nizhnekamskneftekhim as the flagship of the domestic petrochemical industry.

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By Lilia Yegorova