TAIF and SIBUR: ‘We have a lot to learn from each other’
A delegation of the management and specialists of SIBUR Holding paid a business trip to TAIF Group’s plants
On the threshold of the union of the petrochemical and energy businesses, the management and specialists are familiarising themselves with specifics of each others’ factories. In late July, a delegation from TAIF was in Tobolsk where they talked and exchanged experiences with their colleagues for three days. On 9 August, specialists of SIBUR paid a return visit. Read more in Realnoe Vremya’s report.
Wasting no time
In April 2021, TAIF and SIBUR announced the intention of uniting petrochemical and energy capacities. In July, the Russian Federal Anti-Monopoly Service supported the motion of SIBUR Holding PJSC to buy 100% of voting stocks of TAIF JSC and noted that after complying with all the conditions of the service’s order, the deal will allow strengthening Russia’s position in the world market of petroleum products and petrochemistry.
The sides plan to seal the deal as early as the third quarter of 2021. Before this event, the management of both groups decided to establish close contacts between the companies’ specialists. A schedule of visits was created. ZapSibNeftekhim that TAIF representatives visited was the first on the list. It was three days of work with a hectic schedule where presentations, meetings, discussions alternated with the familiarisation with plants.
“For us, this first meeting is the beginning of a big joint journey, the opportunity to establish contacts not only with the top management of the companies but also horizontal communication between the enterprises in technology development, reliability and other areas,” SIBUR’s board member, Director of the Directorate for Basic Polymers Pavel Lyakhovich noted during this first meeting.
More than 20 specialists and directors of SIBUR Holding’s plants chaired by him and Igor Klimov — a SIBUR board member and managing director of production efficacy — arrived in Kazan on 9 August. A plane with the guests landed at the international airport at 9.15 a.m., at 10.45, the SIBUR delegation did PCR tests (the requirements for combatting the COVID-19 pandemic are mandatory for everyone) was in the conference hall of Kazanorgsintez PJSC on the 13th floor of the administration building.
Three days in non-stop mode
As soon as the guests went upstairs to the conference hall, which is the highest point of the administration building of Kazanorgsintez PJSC, they literally were paralysed near panoramic windows with a great view of the whole production site of the petrochemical complex. The hosts — TAIF and Kazanorgsintez — explained with obvious pleasure what the colleagues from SIBUR saw in front of them. However, regrettably for both sides, the observation of Kazanorgsintez with a bird’s eye view had soon to be stopped. That is the rule.
“Welcome! We will show you all the materials about Kazanorgsintez, TAIF Group, energy. In fact, we think the format of the meeting will be like that of ZapSibNeftekhim: reports, questions can be asked and issues can be discussed during these reports. Let’s work,” Director General of Kazanorgsintez PJSC Farid Minigulov set the pace in his welcome speech.
Vice Director General of Energy and Information Technologies at TAIF JSC (Editor’s note: the parent company of Group) Ruslan Gizzatullin specified that during this trip, the guests would have the time to familiarise themselves only with the Kazan part of the petrochemical and energy activity of TAIF, that's to say, enterprises and plants of Kazanorgsintez itself, the Kazan CHPP-3 as well as water treatment and intake facilities. However, judging by the trip programme, which rather resembled a book of average thickness, these days promised to be more than eventful for both the guests and the hosts.
However, at least the next few weeks promise to be intense. The SIBUR team is going to visit Nizhnekamsk plants of TAIF Group, while a tour to key capacities of SIBUR Holding is awaiting their colleagues from Tatarstan.
Day one, acquaintance
The processes on the first day of arrival can be briefly characterised this way. Even though the majority of the guests and hosts are already familiar with each other. Some have known each other for long, while others managed to talk during the trip to Tobolsk, it was an acquaintance of representatives of plants and the management of SIBUR with TAIF Group, with factories and plants of Kazanorgsintez, implemented investment, environmental and social programmes, activity in process safety and mechanical operability assurance, staff policy, resource and energy supply...
Every report and a session of questions and answers were given half an hour. Nevertheless, when people speak the same language and can instantaneously recognise both the similarities and differences of used technologies, mutual interest and readiness to exchange information are so active, time flies quickly. It became clear in the first report and session of questions and answers that the programme would be corrected during the meeting. A part of the discussions dragged on for an hour and more instead of the 30 minutes, the specialists delved into detail and nuances, both companies’ management joined the conversation. Answers raised new questions and requests for clarifications. And the dialogue could be stopped only with the sides’ effort. Business cards and assurances that the discussion would certainly continue online later and in a narrow circle constantly flew above the table. But as soon as a new report began, everything repeated, though in a different way: questions, clarifications, data, numbers, contacts... It became clear that some reports and discussions would have to be postponed to days two and three.
“Our colleagues from SIBUR are interested in many issues because we have common topics, common production. SIBUR enterprises as well as TAIF enterprises make monomers, polymers. The colleagues compare our capacities with their production, ask questions because we have a lot of solutions to the problems SIBUR will have to face. They, in turn, have a unique experience that is interesting for us. When two technologists join a talk, a heated discussion begins. They simply cannot stay apart unless they find the truth,” noted Vice Director General of Production at Kazanorgsintez PJSC Rinat Zaripov noted.
“These are the first visits. We gradually see where there is enough information, where there is a shortage, how much time it takes for the optimal effect. I think the programme at Nizhnekamskneftekhim will be amended because of the nuances we have found here. I think it must be at least three but not more than five days. We will try to strike the happy medium,” Igor Klimov answered Realnoe Vremya’s journalists’ question with a smile about if three days were enough for such a visit.
Petrochemical production cannot do without water. Also, caring about the environment, the plants need local treatment facilities. By the end of the first day of the business trip, the SIBUR team headed to these facilities.
“We have heard and seen how our colleagues work. We understand our enterprises, our treatment facilities have interesting solutions, but we also see that the colleagues from Kazanorgsintez have things to share and they are proud of this. And we share this pride because we see this really corresponds to what they do and the best world practices,” Yuliya Popova, head of Corporate Policy at SIBUR, shared her impressions.
Day two, production
The second day of the SIBUR delegation’s visit started the same way — in the conference hall of Kazanorgsintez PJSC. However, this time, general information was replaced with a more detailed conversation about specific plants manufacturing ethylene, organic products, low- and high-density polyethylene, bisphenol A, polycarbonates (Kazanorgsintez is Russia’s unique producer), a new ethylene-vinyl acetate plant (only TAIF makes it in Russia too), etc. It was also said about IT technologies that are used, a report on the factory’s energy infrastructure was delivered too. And here the discussion turned out to be almost more active and lively than on day one. And only an invitation to visit those sites mentioned could stop the flow of information exchange.
“Of course, I am glad about the way the meeting is going: it is the country’s two largest petrochemical companies, when engineers, managers, experts meet and can freely discuss implemented projects and those ideas that are underway today, discuss plans for the future, this is a big job, of course. We see a lot of ‘similarities,’ let’s call them this way, we see differences too. I have personally written down a few interesting thoughts, ideas I am certainly going to discuss with my colleagues and see how these moments are done in our company. In general I think that such exchange favours the development of our two organisations in general,” said board member, SIBUR’s Managing Director of Production Efficacy Igor Klimov. He particularly noted: “We have discussed the example of using the APC by Schneider Electric at Kazanorgsintez. Here it was introduced in the 2005-2006s, while for us, in our new project of the APC of Schneider Electric will be key. Your experience of use of this system is very important for us, of course. At further meetings, we will learn this information and knowledge in the best way and as much detail as possible.
Yulia Popova, head of Corporate Policy at SIBUR, also emphasised the importance and significance of such live communication:
“We understand how such formats — face-to-face communication and exchange of information, panel discussions — allow establishing communication that provides both an effect and exchange of the best practices faster and more effectively when we meet this way.”
In answer to a question about the applied benefit of such exchange of experience and practice, Popova replied simply:
“Why reinvent the wheel when one can ask a colleague, ask a professional who has already resolved these issues? We understand that it is good, it is helpful when we can say what we have, our positive experience, exchange phone numbers. I have seen my colleagues exchange not only their phones but also counteragents’ phone numbers and tell each other how and in what issues they cooperate.”
“Both we and TAIF have business processes. These business processes are similar in some areas and different in other areas. Both the realisation and approaches to performing similar tasks can be different. It is interesting to understand the essence of these business processes, figure out what’s their difference, how they can complement each other. You have the best practices in some areas, we have them in others. And it is interesting for me to understand how it works, see the differences. It is useful to compare you and us in the good sense of the word, not to find out ‘who is cooler’ but choose the best for our future company,” stressed board member, Managing Director of the Director of Basic Polymers at SIBUR Pavel Lyakhovich.
Day three: work on areas
On day three of the SIBUR delegation’s business trip to TAIF Group’s plants, the guests were divided into two groups. One group remained at Kazanorgsintez to particularly discuss issues of the petrochemical giant’s investment policy, efficacy of services that are responsible for technical maintenance and repairs of key and auxiliary equipment as well as the social policy of the complex and Group in general in detail. The second group that primarily consisted of specialists went to get acquainted with Tatarstan capital’s biggest thermal power plant Kazan CHPP-3, which is a part of TAIF Group’s power company TGC-16 PJSC.
“The Kazan CHPP-3 is the youngest but at the same time the biggest and powerful power of the plant with a capacity of 790 MW. It started operating in 1958. It has been functioning as part of TGC-16 since 2010. Over this time, the CHPP has gone through a multi-stage process of modernisation and development. Thanks to this, the latest energy technologies and equipment whose efficacy indicators meet the world’s best standards are used here. In 2017, we launched a powerful turbine that doesn’t have analogues in Russia. It had a synergetic effect, solved the problem of Kazan’s energy deficiency, raised the reliability of power supply at KOS due to the separate operation of 110 KW buses, created a 220 KW ring in Kazan. The Kazan CHPP-3 became the second backbone facility of the 220 KW Kazan Energy Ring. Due to this, the total blackout of Kazan is almost excluded now, while after the implementation of the 284 MW power turbine at KOS, falls in the voltage below 0,7 will also be ruled out for consumers of the city. The Kazan CHPP-3 improves and keeps uninterruptedly modernising its capacities. So since 2019, we have been participating in a competition of projects designed to modernise thermal power generation,” Director General of TGC-16 JSC Eduard Galeyev briefly said in his welcome speech about the facility the guests of SIBUR were going to visit.
The specialists of SIBUR were familiarised with the history of TAIF Group’s power company. They were told how tough the situation was in the early 2000s when more than 200 emergency shutdowns took place in petrochemical enterprises because of the imperfection of the energy system and absence of strategically important plants of the Fuel and Energy Complex that are necessary for uninterrupted operation. Moreover, in some cases, the whole city with a population of more than a million people had no electricity.
A truly reliable system that guarantees an uninterrupted energy supply was created in Kazan with TAIF Group and Grid Company. While the petrochemical complexes of Group are already implementing a project of the future: Nizhnekamskneftekhim is preparing to operate in test mode, while Kazanorgsintez is building its own electrical and thermal energy plant with a capacity of 495 and 284 MW respectively. All this interested the colleagues from SIBUR very much.
“I am convinced that the colleagues are on the right path from a perspective of the development of the enterprise’s energy reliability. The equipment and those power plants they have are the latest, the most energy-efficient. The launch of the gas turbine in addition to the energy reliability of Kazanorgsintez and Nizhnekamskneftekhim will be absolutely great. The complementarity of the current chart is time tested. Our colleagues have done a huge job. The very fact that there has been no shutdown for external reasons since the enterprise launched three independent power sources means a lot,” noted Vladimir Tupikin, director of energy and resource supply at SIBUR, after the visit to the CHPP-3.
He also stressed:
“Those issues we will have to be resolved together are rather challenges of the time. It is issues related to the environmental impact, CO2 emissions. We see the solution offered here and in Nizhnekamsk envisages today’s trend — use of hydrogen as fuel (Editor’s note: petrochemical by-product), which already makes brake specific electrical energy production at least a quarter more effective from an environmental perspective. I think we will work on all these projects together.”
The three days, as members of the delegation of SIBUR Holding admitted, flew by. The more the guests learnt, the more questions and desire they had to go into some nuances, they say. However, the work on the exchange of information and clarification of details will go on after the colleagues from SIBUR go back to their plants.
“We live in the era of modern technologies. I would say just three years ago: ‘Come on, it takes much more time.’” But 2020, which was unpleasant in every sense of the word, transferred most communication to another dimension: videoconferences, calls. And we are actively working with these instruments, they complement live communication. It was very important that we managed to get acquainted not only as executives but established contacts among key employees. This means that we can call each other, be on first-name terms and speak not only a human but also a professional, ‘power’ language. It seems to me that all this has already been done and arranged, and precisely this is probably the most important thing,” Vladimir Tupukin expressed his opinion.
The summary of the visit was made via teleconference that connected the headquarters of TAIF JSC — the parent company of TAIF Group — with Board Chairman of TAIF JSC Albert Shigabutdunov and Director General of the parent company of Group Ruslan Shigabutdinov as well as Board Chairman of SIBUR Holding PJSC Dmitry Konov with the central office of SIBUR LLC — a managing organisation of SIBUR Holding with Mikhail Karisalov, board chairman and director general, and conference halls of Kazanorgsintez PJSC, TGC-16 JSC where specialists of TAIF Group and SIBUR continued talking.
“Thanks for the openness, benevolence, positivity even despite the tough questions we ask from time to time. The colleagues answered them, prepared additional information. The more you learn, the more questions arise. At the same time, we established direct contacts and we can work not during big trips but discuss details in dialogue with subspecialists. I personally think that I have seen several practices that are absolutely useful for our enterprises. Particularly, on day one, we were in the treatment facilities and saw several solutions that seem to be obvious at first sight but they aren’t widely used in our enterprises. We paid attention to them too. Of course, the discussion and great enthusiasm in cooperation of technologists of our enterprises in similar technologies have had a good impression on me. Here we speak the same engineering language and I will let myself say that it will unlikely be possible to find pyrolysis competencies in the country that are greater than TAIF’s competencies. We cannot help but take advantage of this synergy and start monetising it as soon as possible,” Igor Klimov stressed from Kazanorgsintez’s conference hall.
Vice Director General of Energy and Information Technologies at TAIF JSC Ruslan Gizzatullin agrees that the communication was established and it was very effective:
“I think we talked about the general vision and outlooks for environment, sustainable development well. There was a good dialogue on automation, digitalisation. Here our approaches coincide in many ways. Some areas are better here, other areas are better there. In general we follow a general trend. By uniting our efforts and experience, we win in many aspects. We acquainted our colleagues with our approaches to providing reliability of energy supply charts and, in fact, those joint projects we managed to implement together with Grid Company and the system operator. I think our experience will be useful, and we are always ready to work together here. The key offer is to stay in touch. We will be glad to learn the colleagues’ experience and practice, especially in carbon footprint estimates and planning, calculation of taxes in cross-border regulation. Here, SIBUR made more serious progress. As for technical measures, here both companies follow a general trend. We are ahead in some areas, they are in others. And I think we can learn a lot from each other,” he noted.
Dmitry Konov thanked the hosts for the organisation of the meeting and the eventful programme for the visitors:
“I am glad that we have made the first two steps in mutual acquaintance. ZapSibNeftekhim already hosted a TAIF delegation. Our specialists saw the plants of Kazanorgsintez and TGC-16. Hopefully, we all are very glad about the results of these trips. They are educational, interesting and useful. I am sure that we will continue this practice. On the one hand, it brings the teams together. On the other hand, it is looking for the most effective practices. Also, they help establish human relations between the staff of partner companies. With great joy and pleasure, we hope to keep hosting representatives of TAIF Group, enterprises of Tatarstan in our enterprises. We hope to visit your Nizhnekamsk site until the end of August.”
“I am sure the potential of these trips and groundwork is really big technologically, effectively, economically. In the end, the economy of an enterprise determines if the enterprise earns money and if it can implement new projects and develop. I hope our observations will be useful for the colleagues from Kazanorgsintez and TAIF and really hope for your observations at ZapSibNeftekhim and other enterprises that will help us to work on the efficacy of our processes,” Konov added.
At the end of the meeting, Albert Shigabutdinov stressed:
“Politics is said to be the continuation of the economy. While the economy is the continuation of concentrated industrial potential. We all work in this area. We are thankful to you for the visit and sincere interest in our accomplishments. Working jointly on a common result, as our first president says, ‘we are all doomed for imminent success.’ And I am sure the results of the job we are doing now will soon be seen.”