Unipetrol updates refinery, petrochemical operations

Unipetrol AS is planning to return units hampered by extended shutdowns at its refining and petrochemical operations in the Czech Republic to full production rates by yearend.

At its Chempark Zaluzi petrochemical complex in Litvinov, Unipetrol currently is finalizing reconstruction of the ethylene plant’s steam cracker, which has remained off line following an explosion and ensuing fire at unit in August 2015 (OGJ Online, Dec. 7, 2015; Aug. 14, 2015), the company said in its latest investor report.

To date, repairs include mechanical completion of eight of the unit’s ten furnaces, with reconstruction of the two remaining furnaces to be completed by the end of August.

Following its planned restart in late August using the eight reconstructed furnaces, the 544,000-tonne/year (tpy) steam cracker is scheduled to reach 80% capacity by month’s end, with its return to 100% capacity due to occur by late October, the operator said.

At subsidiary Ceska Rafinerska AS’s 3.3 million-tonne/year Kralupy refinery, Unipetrol said it will start reconstruction and repair of the plant’s fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit during the second half.

Shutdown of the FCC on May 17 following “an extraordinary event” subsequently forced suspension of all crude processing activities at the refinery (OGJ Online, June 3, 2016).

While Unipetrol disclosed no further details regarding a timeframe for the FCC’s repair or the nature of the May incident, the company confirmed it will resume crude processing at the refinery sometime in early October.

In a separate release, however, Unipetrol RPA—operator of the company’s Litvinov chemical complex at Chempark Zaluzi—characterized the May FCC event at Krapuly as an explosion which, alongside halting crude operations at the refinery, also prompted declaration of a force majeure on shipments of polypropylene produced by the Litvinov plant.

In other operational updates for this year’s first half, Unipetrol said it completed scheduled maintenance during March and April at its Litvinov chemical complex and Ceska Rafinerska’s nearby 5.4 million-tpy Litvinov refinery, including a polypropylene debottlenecking project.

Other projects advanced during the first 6 months of the year included rehabilitation of an unidentified hydrocracker and construction of a new polyethylene unit (PE3) at its Litvinov chemical complex (OGJ Online, June 7, 2016).

Alongside ongoing repairs to damaged production units during the second half, Unipetrol said it also will invest in a project related to Jet-A1 fuel production at the Litvinov refinery as well as launch a tender seeking bids for construction of a new boiler house for Litvinov’s reconstructed steam cracker.

Contact Robert Brelsford at rbrelsford@ogjonline.com.

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