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LOTOS delayed coking unit reaches ready for start-up phase

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

The key plant constructed as part of the Grupa LOTOS EFRA project, namely the coker complex consisting of a delayed coking unit (DCU) and auxiliary installations, has reached the ready for start-up (RFSU) status.

The RFSU means formal completion of the construction. It was preceded by a long process of testing all 95 mechanical, electrical, automatic, IT and other systems, confirming their correct construction and operation, as well as detecting and removing any defects. Now that the RFSU phase has been reached, the systems will be handed over for commissioning, i.e. for testing by its operator: the EFRA Plant is owned by LOTOS Asfalt.

“The RSFU status of the EFRA Project’s main unit is very good news to LOTOS, which will now have an even more efficient, innovative, environmentally friendly and profitable refinery, producing almost exclusively high-margin products,” says Mateusz A. Bonca, President of the Grupa LOTOS Management Board “ With the DCU we will be able to discontinue the production of heavy fuel oil. This is important because January 2020 will see the entry into force of IMO regulations that ban the combustion of heavy fuel oil by ships, i.e. the main consumer of this fuel with a high sulfur content. Instead of this low-value and non-ecological product, we will use heavy residues remaining after crude oil processing to obtain high-quality diesel oil, aviation fuel and coke, thus increasing our refining margins.”

Because of the implementation of the EFRA project, LOTOS will manufacture almost exclusively clean and high-margin products, whose share in its refining output will grow to over 89%, from approximately 77% in 2012. The financial effects of the launch of the coker complex should be visible in the Grupa LOTOS financial results for 4Q19.

The DCU has been built based on a globally unique, innovative Triplan technology (used in only one refinery to date), which ensures fully air-tight processes of unloading coke from the reactors and its further processing and transport. The coke removal will also meet the highest environmental standards.

The start-up process that is about to begin will be a complex project consisting of numerous tests, in which safety is the priority issue. It is also the time for further training of the personnel operating the DCU, being the first unit of this kind at the LOTOS refinery and in Poland, based on a technology different from other systems employed at the Gdansk plant. Training of the coker complex employees was partly conducted in the US, where they learned about systems of this type. Nearly 90 employees of LOTOS Asfalt have new responsibilities, and thus new work-related challenges in operating the EFRA units. Likewise, construction of the new units gave employment to more than 1500 staff of the contractors, mainly Polish companies.

The cost of the EFRA Project run in 2015 – 2019 is some PLN 2.3 billion.

EFRA is the continuation of a wider process of technological modernisation of the refinery and optimisation of the oil processing chain initiated under the extensive 10+ Programme, which raised the refinery’s throughput by 4.5 million tpy. EFRA will significantly increase the depth of oil processing, enabling additional production of some 900 000 tpy of high-margin fuels and 300 000 tpy of coke. The new coker complex comprises DCU, the coking naphtha hydrotreating unit (CNHT), as well as facilities for storage and distribution of coke. Other units built and already commissioned under the EFRA Project include: the hydrowax vacuum distillation unit (HVDU), the hydrogen generation unit (HGU), oxygen production plant, and a power distribution facility. In addition, many other units and facilities, mainly related to logistics, have been constructed and upgraded.

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