Rustam Minnikhanov: ‘Is there money? No? Not at all?’

Baltmash, an innovative company in St. Petersburg, which has taken up the development of materials for LNG tankers under the Arctic LNG-2 project, is ready to breathe life into the forgotten Kamskie Polyany industrial park in the Nizhnekamsk district. This territory has been chosen for the construction of a plant of special insulation materials with a total cost of $75 million, project manager Ruslan Krylov announced at a meeting of the Tatneftekhiminvest Holding board of directors on 27 May. Another exciting idea — to localise industrial vacuum cleaners in Tatarstan — quickly faded. “Is there money? No? Not at all?" the president of the republic Rustam Minnikhanov was disappointed, who seemed to be inspired and pushed the Barnaul manufacturer of equipment to be built in Alabuga SEZ.

“They are imposing sanctions only where we have a gap”

At the regular meeting of the board of directors of Tatneftekhiminvest-Holding JSC, discussion meetings with the developers of critically important import-substituting technologies continued, the search for which began immediately after the introduction of international sanctions against Russia, which blocked Tatarstan industry access to foreign equipment and materials. To avoid negative consequences for the economy, Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov called on them to actively engage in the replacement of Western technologies.

“They are imposing sanctions only where we have a gap," said Rustam Minnikhanov. “If we can do everything that is necessary, then no sanctions [are terrible]. We need to learn. If we have everything, there will be scanty [damage] from these sanctions," he is sure.

It turned out that one of the critically important tasks for the industry is the replacement of European catalysts, which are used in the energy, petrochemistry, and automotive industries for gas emission treatment generated by harmful industries.

“Nitric oxide, it is everywhere, it must be combated," Rustam Minnikhanov addressed Alexander Stakheev, the head of the laboratory of catalysis of deposited metals and their oxides of the Institute of Organic Chemistry named after N.D. Zelensky. “Here in the audience, there are power engineers, chemists. What are your suggestions? Simple or difficult: it depends on whether they will give [us] or not," Rustam Minnikhanov continued to argue. “And most likely, access to catalysts will be difficult," he warned.

Stakheev said that Western companies use fiberglass material for the production of catalysts. On its basis, cells are formed, which are impregnated with a catalyst, after which it becomes durable. By this technology, domestic analogues are also being developed, which in their properties are not inferior to Western ones, he assured. According to Stakheev, they are widely used at enterprises of the fuel and energy complex and metallurgy.

“Are catalysts produced for the automotive industry?" Rustam Minnikhanov interrupted the speaker.

The scientist answered in the affirmative, but with a reservation: “KAMAZ previously worked with Danish Haldor Topse, which used a vanadium catalyst.” According to the scientist, the production technologies of catalysts for the energy and automotive industries are similar, as he put it, “intertwined”.

“Rafinat, what are your thoughts?" the president turned to the head of Tatneftekhiminvest Holding, Rafinat Yarullin.

He did not hide that there are simply no better catalysts in Russia than the Moscow Institute of Organic Chemistry named after N.D. Zelensky. He proposed testing prototypes at energy facilities that emit large amounts of nitrogen oxide into the atmosphere.

“Now many import substitution programmes are being implemented in the country, and we are a major consumer. Let's actively participate in them," suggested Minnikhanov, promising at the same time to talk with the director general of KAMAZ, Sergey Kogogin.

“The support of the local chemical industry is needed”

Baltmash, an innovative company in St. Petersburg, is engaged in the development of materials for LNG tankers for Arctic projects, has announced its readiness to build a plant of special insulating materials in the Kamskie Polyany industrial park in the Nizhnekamsk district. The localisation of polyurethane foam is due to that over the past 10 years the demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) has increased 100 times.

According to the project manager, Ruslan Krylov, polyurethane foam is very popular today, since its use in thermal insulation structures serves to retain cryogenic product and allows at least 2000 LNG loading/unloading cycles during 40 years of operation of the isothermal tank.

“Our consumers are oil and gas companies," Ruslan Krylov said. “Novatek has great needs for 27-tonne structures, Rosneft ship systems, Rosatom plans to build its own ships where insulation is needed," he listed the areas of application. According to him, the market volume will amount to 1 trillion rubles and, probably, global LNG sales will grow.

He said that his team chose the Kamskie Polyany industrial park for the localisation of the plant, since the main chemical enterprises that can become suppliers of raw materials are located nearby: “Our requirements are land of 10 hectares, capacity of 2 MW, transport accessibility.” According to him, the costs will amount to $75 million. “In 2025, we plan to launch a full production cycle," he said.

“What support does he need?" Rustam Minnikhanov asked.

“We need the support of the local chemical industry," Krylov responded eagerly.

Then the president specified — what raw materials are needed? In response, Rafinat Yarullin said that simple polyesters are needed, which Nizhnekamsk Elastokam can supply, and isocyanates “worth 1 billion rubles”.

Here the director general of Nizhnekamskneftekhim, Ayrat Safin, joined the conversation with an important clarification that Nizhnekamskneftekhim does not produce isocyanates, but imports them from Germany. Nevertheless, the project is recognised as viable.

“Well, let's hit the road," Rustam Minnikhanov blessed. And finally he asked: “Is there akcha?"

The guest from St. Petersburg did not understand what akcha is.

“Akcha means money in Tatar," the president explained.

“Yes, we have financial resources," Krylov happily assured.

“Someone calls money resources, and we call money money," Minnikhanov laughed together with the audience.

“If you are looking for a site, here is a special zone in Alabuga”

Just because of akcha, another exciting idea slightly faded, which was presented by Dmitry Bukharin, the head of the branch of the Russian manufacturer of industrial vacuum cleaners Zirael PLC. He proposed to localise the production of Russian equipment in Tatarstan. According to him, vacuum cleaners are distinguished by a triple cleaning system and operate on the basis of powerful turbines. For clarity, one of them was turned on right in the hall. In front of the president, it began to suck in not only dust, but also small stones, but could not swallow everything. Dmitry Bukharin said that the vacuum cleaners themselves are manufactured in Barnaul, but now they are looking for a site for localisation in Tatarstan.

“Of course, vacuum cleaners are needed — the production culture will become higher, cleaning will be carried out more often in the premises themselves," praised Minnikhanov. “If you are looking for a platform, here is a special zone in Alabuga," the president called. “Well, is there money?" “Yuk," Dmitry Bukharin answered honestly in Tatar. “Yuk? Not at all?" Rustam Minnikhanov was disappointed, who, it would seem, had just been inspired by the idea. “Timur [Shagivaleev, the head of Alabuga SEZ], you check it out," the president of Tatarstan jokingly instructed.

Luiza Ignatyeva

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