Kazakhstan is endowed to develop petroleum chemistry sector

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The petroleum chemistry industry is growing so fast in the world. For instance, the production of plastic has grown for more than five times bigger in last thirty years: only in Iran the investment in plastic consists of US $12 bin and during 2004 19 mln tons of synthetic products have been made, but only two years later the volume of the production increased by 30 mln tons. There is a big rate of production growth in the same field in China as well. According to the academic of National academy of sciences RK and honorable oilman of the USSR Nadir Nadirov Kazakhstan, which is endowed with rich reserves of raw hydrocarbon materials, should develop the petroleum chemistry industry.

- The practice shows, - says Nadir Karimovich, - that the price of petroleum chemistry products is 4-5 times higher than the price of initial raw material. Surely, the demand and the price for polystyrene which is used for making thin and single-use packaging, foil, phone body, computers, all electronic engineering, and also insulating materials, is increasing in every five years. There is a great need for polyethylene, polypropylene, synthetic rubber, polyvinylchloride, surface-active agent, and additives. That's why the government has received the task from the president to work out overall development plan for petroleum chemistry industry in Kazakhstan for nearest 10 years.

- The successful implementation of the plan is connected with the petroleum chemistry clusters. What are the perspectives of it nowadays?

- For successful cluster development in field of petroleum chemistry industry there are concrete requirements: the global chain of surplus value, attractive location (infrastructure, innovative culture), business environment (favorable tax climate), ventures funds (high level of investment), scientific- research potential, and also high qualified labor force. Now you can judge from this point.

Some specialists, it is true, name various companies and holdings such as LPP "Kazneftechim" and its ventures: "Kazheftechimkopa", "Kazheftechim-volokno", "Kazheftec- himtrans", "Kazneftechim-commerts" as typical petroleum chemistry clusters. However, they are holdings not clusters. There are some corresponding productions, but on consumer market their products are taking place trivial part, 20 per cent of the segment. This is the result of trace rooted back to the USSR when production was dependent on raw material supplier and there was a big labor division. Of course, the collapse of the USSR resulted in break between consumer and supplier. For example, tire plant in Shymkent has hardly re-employed people, but its dependence on foreign suppliers is still high.

- You have highlighted the conditions which can promote the successful clustering, but it would be necessary to underline the science because only this can be the source of new ideas and technologies.

- Sure. Kazakhstan's scientists, for example, have been studying and researching the process of receiving benzyl and alkylation (i.e. affixture of benzyl and ethylene as a result to get ethyl benzyl which is the main basis of alkylation). I'm myself got dozen of copyrights to invent of catalysts converting the hydrocarbons into aromatic compounds - benzyl. All these projects were of great importance and taken into account while building Kazakh oil refinery plant, Aktau plastic plant.

- However, our plants are criticized for low quality of hydrocarbon refining on which millions of dollars are spent.

- In reality things are not so bad, though the initial projects of the ORP (oil refinery plants) were not supposed to make petroleum chemistry products. But, for production with surplus value, i.e. with deep raw material refining in all three Kazakhstan's ORPs there are all prerequisites. I think that the implementation of the project which gives the production of benzyl, ethylene and propylene should begin. For this, we need new ventures and enterprises.

- That is, existing and operating Kazakhstan's oil refinery plants can really provide the petroleum chemistry development?

- The first steps of increasing the possibilities of ORP have already been made. By the end of this year re-construction of Atyrau oil refining plant should be complete. As a result the depth oil refining for the auto benzene with trade mark АИ -92, АИ-93 and diesel fuel on European standards will increase from 62,5 % to 85- 92%. Therefore, the volume of local oil refining, including Tengiz sulphite oil, will reach 5 mln tons a year. Moreover, new technological installation on hydro fining, dewaxing of diesel fuel, izomerization, modernization of catalytic reforming, fractionation of benzene fraction (distillate benzene), sulphur production and others will operate. On the same level with high quality fuel Atyrau oil refining plant can produce benzyl as one of the main components of petroleum chemistry development.

There is also a situation. In all three Kazakhstan's oil refining plants there are installations of catalytic reforming that are used for aromatic compound production - benzyl homologues - added to motor oil to increase octane curve. It should be added much more than used to, though according to the international ecological requirements the content of aromatic additives in benzene shouldn't exceed 1 per cent. If we start to follow strictly this requirement we can entirely direct home-made benzene to petroleum chemistry development, namely, polystyrene production. In this case our ORP will cover all deficit benzyl which is the reason of standing giant plant in Aktau - plant on producing polystyrene.

By the way, within the scope of Atyrau ORP re-construction the feasibility study for the construction of the complex that will produce up to 150 thousand tons of benzyl a year has been developed. After the reconstruction it will be possible to increase octane curve of different motor oil types due to the installed izomerization in plant. As for fraction of gas cokes rich in ethylene and propylene (today this gas is used for heating the plant) it will be used as the second important element necessary for petroleum chemistry or as the high octane component for benzene.

That is, produced benzyl can be used and necessary only for the petroleum chemistry. Instead of benzyl which increases the number of octane based fuels it will be important to develop the process of izomerization, alkylation and oligomerization. This is the requirement of time. It allows without a construction to create new plants and new infrastructure not dependent on import.

It will be also important to use the potential of ORP for ethylene production, propylene and other basic components needed for petroleum chemistry development. Associated gas can be also ideal raw material for their production. So far they are being burnt: only in Kumkol oil field annually

200 mln cubic meter associated gas is burnt.

In addition to all above mentioned our petroleum chemistry can produce so called surface-active agents (SAA). We need to increase the coefficient of burnt fuel and decrease the noxious gas. SAAs also help to solve problems connected with oil exploration, transportation and refining. The scientists of Institute of Chemistry and natural salts at National Academy of Sciences developed technologies on receiving the SAA demulsifying agent "Atyrau". During the test at Atyrau, Shymkent, Pavlodar and Volgograd ORP it was proven that "Atyrau" SAA demulsifying agent is doesn't give a way to world analogy, even exceeds them. It showed the high level efficiency on dehydration and desalting of oil. This demulsifying agent can be produced in Atyrau ORP which allows saving millions of dollars. But now SAAs are bought from foreign countries.

- What measures have been taken towards petroleum chemistry production by the government?

- Last year the feasibility study based on scientific grounds on re-animating petroleum chemistry giants of Kazakhstan was developed by the Ministry of energy and mineral resources. It highlighted the optional sources and volume of hydrocarbons to develop petroleum chemistry industry, and mainly, creating National oil chemical industry techno park in Atyrau oblast with local Oil and gas institute. JSC "Exploration and production KazMunaiGas", the daughter company of national company "KazMunaiGas" has decided to finance partially this techno park. The rest of the finances are expected to be provided by foreign companies.

To my mind, the government should adopt a law that limits import of foreign technologies into Kazakhstan which do not meet effectiveness and ecological standards. Concerning this issue the scientists rely on the support of the deputies "Otan" party who are taking the major places in legislative meetings and local representatives bodies of all levels.

In nearest ten years period Kazakhstan should produce oil up to 100- 150 mln tons a year. The half of the oil should remain in republic where it will be refined and exported as an ultimate product of high surplus value. By the way, I have proposed this idea when I was given a request to develop scientific-technical program for petroleum chemistry development and define the scientific and raw material potential, material-technical resources, demand for the product, and the main thing - our competitiveness on world market.

- You have just said that the main problem of organizing and developing petroleum chemistry techno park will depend on foreign companies, but we have own scientific potential...

- I will support your point of view: there are new waves of Kazakhstan scientists whose contributions have been recognized by the world scientific community. For example, Academic Bakhytzhan Zhumagulov's projects on oil-gas extraction (recovery) dynamics, mathematic modeling, operating oil field process optimization and ecology in petroleum chemistry industry are well known. These projects are now being re-published to be accessible abroad. Academic Tuleush Serikov's researches in the field of oil lubricants, converting the natural gas into value petroleum chemistry products are also famous. Academic Valikhan Bishimbaey with co-authors invented oil bitumen solid of high efficiency, this was awarded by State prize in 2005.

In the field of petroleum chemistry the Institute of organic catalysis and electro chemistry after Sokolsky, leading by the president of National academy of sciences RK Murat Zhurinov, the Institute of chemical sciences after Bekturov under the supervision of academic Edil Nurgozhin, the chemical department of National University and others are making big contribution to the petroleum chemistry development. Therefore, you are right that we have ample scientific and production potential to create "National petroleum chemistry industry techno park" which has been already operated in Atyrau oblast as the intellectual center where new production technologies for petroleum chemistry should be created.


Raushan Shulembayeva