Slovnaft expanding petrochemical capacity at Bratislava integrated complex

June 2, 2022
Slovnaft AS has let a contract to Linde Engineering to deliver services for an upgrade of an existing production unit that will increase polypropylene output at the operator’s integrated refining and petrochemical complex in Bratislava, Slovakia.

MOL Group subsidiary Slovnaft AS has let a contract to Linde PLC subsidiary Linde Engineering to deliver services for an upgrade of an existing production unit that will increase polypropylene (PP) output at the operator’s 124,000-b/d integrated refining and petrochemical complex in Bratislava, Slovakia.

As part of the June 1 contract, Linde will provide all installation works—including construction, commissioning, and testing—for a large-scale revamp of the complex’s PP3 plant that will extend the plant’s current PP production capacity by 18% to 300,000 tonnes/year, the service provider said in a release.

Based on several studies performed by Linde Engineering between 2016-20 that laid the foundation for Slovnaft’s investment decision to undertake the project, the proposed PP3 plant revamp has been designed to improve operational flexibility of the unit by enabling production of multiple product grades and employing intermediate storage to ensure “just-in-time” production, Linde said.

The revamp project—which also will expand the plant’s associated storage to 61 silos from its current 45—additionally will incorporate environmental measures to capture waste gas streams to ensure compliance with local regulations, according to Linde.

Aimed at helping Slovnaft meet rising demand from the polyolefin processing industry, the proposed PP3 upgrading project comes as part of the operator’s goal of reducing production of fossil fuels while strengthening its production of basic plastics in accordance with MOL Group’s broader updated 2030+ strategy, Slovnaft and Linde said.

The contract award to Linde Engineering for the PP3 production unit revamp follows Slovnaft’s previous award to the service provider for original construction of the plant less than 20 years ago, said Gabriel Szabó, executive vice-president of MOL Group’s downstream division.

Project timeframe

Further details regarding the PP3 modernization project and newly awarded contract were not revealed, but Juergen Nowicki, Linde Engineering’s chief executive officer, did confirm the project, once under way, would be completed within a “narrow timeframe” given the unit’s “interdependency with other process facilities” at the Bratislava complex.

While neither Slovnaft nor MOL Group has specifically mentioned the proposed PP3 revamp elsewhere, Slovnaft revealed in a May 19 release that it would undertake the first 2-month leg of its three-part 2022 turnaround activities at the Bratislava complex beginning on May 20.

Scheduled to run through July 20, the more than €36-million summer turnaround will involve intensive maintenance works focused mainly on improving environmental performance and safety of the complex’s technical equipment, as well as reducing the energy intensity of production activities, at 21 production units located within both the refining and petrochemical sections of the complex, Slovnaft said.

"The maintenance and [modernization works will include] the refinery's distillation and hydrocracking production units, as well as key petrochemical production units, including the [low-density polyethylene] LDPE4 plastics production unit,” said Lukáš Noskovič, Slovnaft’s manager of project management and planned turnarounds.

“During the summer turnaround, we will also implement investment projects, such as replacement of the distillation furnace with a new, more efficient and reliable one; replacement of pumps at the circulation centers with lower electricity consumption; [and] replacement of the distillation column with a new extension enabling a more efficient distillation process," Noskovič added.

While Slovnaft confirmed the May-July turnaround will include execution of €25-million worth of investment projects to be carried out at five of the complex’s production units to improve their environmental and safety performance, the operator did not identify the remaining four refining and petrochemical units involved as part of the summer investment plan.

Divided into spring, summer, and autumn legs, Slovnaft’s 2022 cycle of planned turnarounds at Bratislava will cover works at nearly 40 production units and installations at the site and require an overall investment of €52 million, the operator said.

The summer leg is slated to be the most extensive of the three turnaround periods in terms of the volume of planned works, according to Slovnaft.