SOCAR finalizes deal for bitumen plant at Baku refinery

State Oil Co. of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) has finalized a contract with Austria’s Porner Ingenieur GMBH for a grassroots bitumen plant as part of program designed to modernize and expand operations at the company’s Heydar Aliyev (formerly New Baku) refinery at Baku in Azerbaijan.

The state-run company signed an official contract with Porner for construction of the plant, which will be equipped with Porner’s proprietary Biturox bitumen process technology, SOCAR said.

The contract signing follows SOCAR’s announcement in September that it had engaged Porner to provide basic design works for the proposed 400,000-tonne/year bitumen plant, with Fluor Corp. to serve as contractor on the project (OGJ Online, Sept. 18, 2015).

In addition to producing high-quality bitumen, the plant will lower operating costs for the refinery, as well as contribute to improved environmental conditions in the region, said SOCAR Pres. Rovnag Abdullayev.

The new bitumen plant, which comes as part of the refinery’s reconstruction and modernization, is due to be commissioned in 2018, SOCAR said.

Alongside the bitumen plant and reconstruction of tank farms, the Heydar Aliyev overhaul also includes plans to renovate the refinery’s primary crude processing, catalytic cracking, and catalytic reforming units, as well construction of other new installations, Abdullayev said.

Designed to be implemented in stages during 2015-19, the refinery’s modernization and upgrading program will result in 100% production of fuels that meet Euro-5 quality standards as well as high-quality raw feedstock to be transported via pipeline to an associated ethylene and polyethylene plant operated by SOCAR subsidiary Azerikimya Production Union.

The revamp program follows this year’s shutdown and subsequent merger of processing activities at SOCAR’s Azerneftyag refinery with those of the nearby Heydar Aliyev refinery as part of the company’s plan to eliminate economically inefficient production activities and management structures associated with the operation of two separate refineries (OGJ Online, Dec. 29, 2014).

Operations at the Azerneftyag refinery ended on Jan. 1, with some of the plant’s still-unidentified production installations to gradually be implemented into operations at Heydar Aliyev.

The modernization and integration program at Heydar Aliyev, once completed, will increase the refinery’s crude processing capacity to about 7.5 million tpy from its current 6 million-tpy capacity.

SOCAR previously commissioned Porner in 2014 to execute a study on relocation of the atmospheric and vacuum distillation units, a hydrotreater, and a Biturox plant at the Heydar Aliyev refinery, Porner said in a June 2015 informational.

Contact Robert Brelsford at

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