Oil refining in tandem with petrochemistry: straight-run gasoline
Naphtha is a valuable raw material for petrochemistry: how straight-run gasoline outperforms light hydrocarbons?
Straight-run gasoline is one of the first products at the dawn of TAIF-NK JSC's activity Since then, the company's capacities have been repeatedly upgraded, opportunities have expanded, the basket of products has grown, and production volumes have increased. In particular, more and more straight-run gasoline is being produced. What is so important about nafta and what plans the oil refining company builds in this direction — in the material of Realnoe Vremya.
We need more straight-run gasoline
In January 2022, at the Interplastica exhibition site, SIBUR, which is currently implementing one of the largest projects in the domestic petrochemical industry — the construction of the Ethylene-600 complex at the Nizhnekamsk site, announced its intention to adjust the configuration of products planned for release at future production. In particular, in addition to the planned production of a quarter of a million tonnes of general-purpose polystyrene, the company intends to ensure the production of 100 thousand tonnes of foaming polystyrene a year.
“We will also slightly change the portfolio of derivatives in terms of ethylene derivatives and ethylene, propylene derivatives," Sergey Komyshan, the executive director for marketing and sales of SIBUR PLC, said at the time. He also stressed that the Nizhnekamsk SIBUR enterprise is not planned to be transferred to the processing of liquefied petroleum gases instead of naphtha. Moreover, it is planned to additionally load ethylene production.
What does it mean? That more naphtha will be needed. The one that TAIF-NK produces. According to the preliminary results of 2022, the company has produced more than 1,4 million tonnes in total. The main consumer of this product is Nizhnekamskneftekhim.
“Let me remind you that initially the ELOU AVT-7 unit was built specifically to provide raw materials for the Ethylene complex at Nizhnekamskneftekhim and was built in parallel with this unit. Today, all straight-run gasoline produced by ELOU, plus the flows of the HRCC and the Gasoline Plant have now been added to it, goes into the reservoirs of the Nizhnekamsk SIBUR enterprise in mixed flows. There, its pyrolysis takes place with the production of ethylene and a number of other products that are valuable raw materials of petrochemistry," explained Vladimir Lakhomov, the director of the refinery of TAIF-NK JSC.
Ethane, LPG or naphtha?
For the production of ethylene, straight-run gasoline, of course, is not the only possible raw material. Liquefied petroleum gases (LPG), NGLs, and ethane are also suitable for this. But it is naphta in many countries of the world (and Russia is no exception) that is the most popular raw material for the petrochemical industry. This is eloquently evidenced by the statistics.
The objective reason for this is not only that in some regions liquid hydrocarbons — oil, and hence naphtha, are more accessible raw materials, but also what tasks petrochemical companies set themselves for further conversion. If you look at the following table, you can see that ethylene is not the only purpose of pyrolysis. There is also propylene, butadiene, butylene, isobutylene, acetylene, divinyl, benzene... The list of intermediates is extensive, as is the scope of their application. It is naphtha and only it is able to provide high-value raw materials for further processing in sufficient volumes.
“It all depends on the ultimate goal: what needs to be obtained from raw materials for petrochemical production. If only ethylene is needed, then ethane fraction is out of competition. If ethylene, propylene, and a number of other intermediates are needed, then this is already the propane-butane fraction. Well, if the petrochemical production needs a wide range of intermediates for further processing, then there are no other options: naphtha and only naphtha," said Niyaz Khamidullin, the head of the technical re-equipment and long-term development department of TAIF-NK JSC.
Without intermediates obtained from naphtha, it is impossible to create all that wide and popular range of polymers. Divinyl is necessary in the production of synthetic rubbers, butylenes are indispensable in the niche of production of high-octane additives for automotive fuel, as well as in the creation of a wide range of specific polymers, benzene is indispensable in the synthesis of styrene, polystyrene and a number of other petrochemical products.
In total, by the results of the previous year, all refineries in Russia, according to the Ministry of Energy, processed a total of 285 million tonnes of raw materials. Of these, about 7 million tonnes of raw materials account for the capacities of TAIF-NK JSC.
TAIF-NK is ready for an increase in demand for straight-run gasoline
Not so long ago, in an online broadcast of Realnoe Vremya, Tamara Kandelaki — Professor, Doctor of Economics, CEO of InfoTEK-Consult PLC — noted that straight-run gasoline in Russia is in surplus. The product is exported, as it does not have time to be fully processed by Russian petrochemical industries. It seems that the situation is changing.
“The information that I have now: not only SIBUR and its Nizhnekamsk production — Nizhnekamskneftekhim — are currently building/reconstructing ethylene plants with naphtha processing. A significant total share in the production of all TAIF-NK production facilities, that is, both HRCC, and primary oil refining units, and gas condensate processing units, is occupied by straight-run gasoline. TAIF-NK can increase the production of straight-run gasoline by changing the modes of operation of hydrocracking. We have already tried it. I can say that we are ready for the moment when our colleagues launch their new production — EP-600 — and we will be able to provide a significant share of their increased demand with raw materials," Aleksey Khramov, the chief engineer of TAIF-NK JSC, shared in the conversation with the journalist of Realnoe Vremya.