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URALCHEM is going to "rejuvenate" the jubilee factory in Berezniki

URALCHEM is going to "rejuvenate" the jubilee factory in Berezniki

06.02.2012 — Analysis

In 2011, the Perm Region-based Azot Branch of the United Chemical Company URALCHEM crossed the threshold of one million tons in three main types of the products. The large-scale modernization drove up the output and reduced the environmental impact. The budget revenue generating enterprise located in Berezniki brought 520 million rubles in taxes and fees to the budget during last year. In his interview to RusBusinessNews, Dmitry Ivanov, the director of the branch, pointed out that the enterprise boasting an 80-year long manufacturing history intends to take the lead in the Russian chemical industry.

- Taking into account the output of the Azot factory, the increase by even a tenth of one percent is quite impressive. Yet, last year the enterprise adorned its financial statements with integral percents. What made it possible to increase the output by several thousand tons?

- The financial statement numbers are truly impressive. We produced 1,257 million tons of ammonium nitrate (including granulated and water-resistant) (+3.2% as compared to 2010); 1,089 million tons of weak nitric acid (+2.5%); 1,019 million tons of ammonia (+3.6%). In addition, the output of urea increased by 11.38% (to 498.566 thousand tons).

The improved performance is the result of the programs implemented in 2010. Nearly all the production shops were extensively repaired. For example, the repair of the integrated acid production line system in the weak nitric shop was performed concurrently with the rehabilitation of one of the departments. The upgrading of the carbon dioxide compressor and the converter resulted in a 100 ton increase in the urea daily output. Due to the upgraded ammonia converter, the enterprise was able to increase the product output to 1,700 tons a day.

The cleaning of the equipment with furfuryl alcohol helped to reduce the corrosive effect of resins and boost up the performance. The technological supervision over this project was conducted by Ammonia Casale SA (Switzerland), a world's leader in modernization of production of nitrogenous fertilizers. All the operations related to the application of the new cleaning technology were supervised by the Nobel Prize winner Iosif Leites.

- The modernization launched in 2010 has brought tangible results. Are any new record levels expected?

- The United Chemical Company URALCHEM adheres to the principle of continuous improvement. In 2011, about 850 million rubles were invested in re-equipment of the enterprise.

The particular emphasis was placed on ammonia production. We have revamped the treatment unit where converted gas is cleaned from carbon dioxide. The new absorbing agent - methyl diethanolamine - poured into the system will result in increased product output. This absorbing agent will also help to reduce corrosion of the equipment and heat consumption during the treatment process. Furthermore, the high-capacity ammonia production department received up-to-date equipment.

In weak nitric shop, gas turbines, compressors and heat-exchange equipment of three units were repaired; the water-circulation loops were rehabilitated. The pneumatic control system was replaced by the microprocessor control system - the Yokogawa software and hardware complex of the Centum series. It will substantially improve the control over the technological process and conditions of work.

In the higher aliphatic amine and nitrite/nitrate salts production facilities, the modernization program resulted in stabilization of production cycles and helped to extend the service life of the equipment.

The performance of the Azot Branch in January 2012 gives confidence in further improvement of the total output, which is expected to exceed at least by 3% the output of the previous year.

- As a rule, increasing outputs, especially at a chemical enterprise, aggravates the adverse effect on environment. How is this problem being solved at Azot?

- The modernization helped to reduce discharge levels: ammonium ion (about 40%), suspended solids (about 12%), urea (about 42%), sodium (about 26%), potassium (about 11%). The enterprise increased waste disposal and utilization levels by 29%. Besides, the levels of pollutant emissions were brought down - nitrogen oxides - by 5.7%, and ammonium nitrate - by 25.8%.

- Increased product outputs require efforts in product shipment. What has been done in this segment?

- By May 2011 we had completed reconstruction of our own riverside wharf on the Kama River - we constructed a new hopper for ready-to-use fertilizers and extended the railway track. The vessels can be loaded faster due to replacement of the main transporter line and reducing gears of the loading conveyor. Last year, the shipment from the wharf almost doubled, reaching 350 thousand tons.

We also completed the project aimed to increase the quantity of shipments of granulated ammonium nitrate loaded in bulk into mineral wagons. The production facility was equipped with a new line, additional conveyor and hopper. The system was equipped with strain gages for weighing, a new filling system and a service deck. The loading process is controlled automatically, this completely eliminating manual operations.

At the beginning of 2012 we were able to increase granulated ammonium nitrate shipments in flexible containers. The shipment platforms were upgraded, the new hoist and high-speed load-handling Demag equipment were put into operation. The railway tracks were reconstructed and a new diesel locomotive was bought to increase the number of freight cars. Previously, the maximum daily shipment of flexible containers was 30 gondola cars (1.8 thousand tons); at present, it increased to 44 gondola cars (more than 3 thousand tons).

Thus, we have not only increased the shipment quantities, but also have diversified the method of product shipment, having improved the quality of the customer service. Today, the Azot Branch can easily ship the main product - ammonium nitrate by the transport that is most advantageous for the customer. This, undoubtedly, contributes considerably to our competitiveness.

- What are your further plans in modernization?

- The main projects we are going to implement are purchasing and installation of classifiers for finished products in the urea department to improve quality of products, upgrading of the kratzer cranes in the granulated ammonium nitrate department to increase shipment quantities, launching of the automated control system in the production of concentrated nitric acid. The other plans include further renovation of water-circulation loops to reduce water consumption and waste water discharge.

Therefore, a new high-tech enterprise will gradually sprout up, substituting the old-timer enterprise - Azot that will mark its 80th anniversary in 2012. Having huge potential and promising prospects, the enterprise can look to the future with confidence. I am sure that we will be able to create the best chemical enterprise in Russia.

The interview was prepared by Alexei Kravtsov

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