Kazakhstan’s state-owned JSC NC KazMunayGas (KMG) subsidiary ANPZ LLP is repairing the fluid catalytic cracker (FCC) at its 100,000-b/d Atyrau refinery following the unit’s unplanned shutdown in early February.
As of Feb. 7, a specially created operational headquarters at the refinery was managing repair and restoration works on the FCC with support from specialists of Axens SA, which licensed the unit’s catalytic cracking process technology, ANPZ and KMG said.
Based on results of an inspection of the unit carried out by Axens, ANPZ said it expects to complete all necessary repair work by Feb. 18, with preliminary startup activities at the cracker scheduled to run from Feb. 18 through Feb. 22.
Official restart of the unit is planned for Feb. 23, according to ANPZ.
ANPZ initiated an unscheduled shutdown of the catalytic cracker on Feb. 1 following an increase in the temperature profile of the unit’s regenerators, ANPZ and KMG said on Feb. 3.
Following the Feb. 1 incident, KMG also confirmed terminating Rakhimzhan Zhangabylov, ANPZ’s first deputy general director, as well as issuing a severe reprimand to Murat Dosmuratov, the refinery’s general director.
Magzum Mirzagaliyev, chairman of KazMunayGas, additionally called for a special response team—led by Arman Kairdenov, deputy chairman of KMG’s refining and petrochemicals management board—to investigate the FCC incident and make further personnel decisions for the refinery based on results of the investigation.
During the FCC outage, Mirzagaliyev has also instructed Kazakhstan’s three refineries—including the Atyrau refinery, POCR LLP’s 120,000-b/d Pavlodar refinery, and PetroKazakhstan’s 120,000-bd Shymkent refinery—to maximize capacity utilization to ensure sufficient output of light petroleum products to meet regional demand and prevent a national fuel deficit.
“Amid the repeated criticism expressed by the country’s leadership towards [ANPZ] and the ongoing disruptions in its operation, we will take the toughest action. Such incidents are inadmissible at a time when supply of petroleum products to the domestic market is a pressing issue,” Mirzagaliyev said.
Before the Feb. 1 unit shutdown, ANPZ most recently was forced to halt operations of Atyrau’s catalytic cracker and associated installations from Jan. 10-11 amid a shortage of free LPG storage space resulting from untimely LPG truck pickups from regional gas network companies under a distribution schedule administered by Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Energy, ANPZ said.
While ANPZ confirmed restart of the FCC and related process units on Jan. 11, the operator said the temporary outage reduced the refinery’s normal output of:
- 500 tonnes/day of LPG to 20 tonnes/day.
- 6,000 tonnes/day of motor gasoline to 1,500 tonnes/day.
- 4,000 tonnes/day of diesel to 2,000 tonnes/day.