- And you do gasoline in petrochemistry, right?

    Hi, Habr!

    Continuing our series of publications, we decided that in order to understand the basics of digital chemistry, we need to tell a little about the essence of the company's business. Clearly, along the way, we will simplify it so as not to turn the story into a boring lecture listing the entire periodic table (by the way, 2019 is officially the year of the periodic law, in honor of the 150th anniversary of its discovery).

    When answering the question “What is petrochemistry and what products does it create?”, Many people confidently answer - fuel, gasoline and other liquid-fuel. In fact, to put it mildly, this is not quite true. As a petrochemical company, we are mainly engaged in the processing of by-products of oil and gas production and the production of synthetic materials, which constitute a significant part of the environment of each of us. It is believed that out of 5 of any items that surround us at any one time, 4 are created thanks to petrochemistry. These are laptop cases, pens, bottles, fabrics, bumpers and tires for cars, plastic windows, packing of favorite chips, water pipes, food containers, medical equipment and consumables ... In general, here:

    My name is Alexey Vinnichenko, I am responsible in SIBUR for the Advanced Analytics direction. With the help of analytical models, we adjust the optimal modes of technological processes, minimize the risk of equipment breakdowns, predict market prices for raw materials and products, and much more.

    Today I’ll tell you what these products are and how we produce them from primarily associated petroleum gas.

    Gas path

    When oilmen pump oil, associated petroleum gas goes along with it (APG, along with oil the gas cap rises to the surface, which is usually located in the seams of the earth together with oil). During the Soviet decades, most of it was simply burned, since environmental issues were a secondary factor, and for utilization of APG, an expensive infrastructure needs to be built, especially since domestic oil fields are located mainly in the harsh edges of Western Siberia. As a result, the torch lights were clearly visible even from space. With the passage of time, the state’s position on burning has become tougher, the consumption of synthetic materials, and hence the need for raw materials for them, has increased, and the view on the problem of APG flaring has been revised. Back in the USSR, processing of APG into useful products began to develop in the country. but the process was really restarted in the early 2000s. As a result, now only SIBUR processes about 23 billion cubic meters of APG per year, preventing emissions of 7 million tons of harmful substances and 70 million tons of greenhouse gases, which is equivalent to annual emissions of motor vehicles in an average European country.

    So, oil companies sell us petroleum gas. We have created an extensive network of pipelines in Western Siberia that delivers gas to our gas processing plants. At these plants, the gas undergoes primary processing, being divided into natural (natural) gas, which goes to the gas transportation system of Gazprom and then goes, for example, to your house, if you use a gas stove, as well as the so-called “wide fraction of light hydrocarbons” (NGL) - a mixture, from which, later under a different combination of temperature and pressure, we get all the variety of chemical products.

    We collect NGL from our Siberian factories through the pipeline system and pour it into one large pipe with a length of 1,100 kilometers - from the north to the south of Western Siberia - through which the product reaches our largest production site in Tobolsk. By the way, a very interesting city full of history - Yermak, Mendeleev, the Decembrists, Dostoevsky, and Rasputin is also close by. The first stone Kremlin in Siberia. Part of this story can be seen in the film "Tobol", which comes out in late February. In the film, by the way, starred in the crowd, including our employees. But back to the production in Tobolsk.

    There we divide the resulting raw materials into individual components and fractions, process the products into liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Liquefied gas itself is a ready-made product that can be offered to the market and customers. Propane, butane - tanks with gas for country farms, cans for refilling lighters, environmentally friendly fuel for cars. In general, all this can be sold to the buyer. What we partially do. But what happens to the rest of the raw materials, which are not used to create liquefied gas, in Tobolsk and at the company's facilities in Tomsk, Perm, Tolyatti, Voronezh and other cities with our petrochemical plants.

    Gas separation unit. Column equipment


    LPG polymers pass through the pyrolysis stage (or alternative chemical technologies), where we get the most important monomers for the production of polymers - ethylene and propylene. The man in the street does not come across these substances, as they do not enter the open wide market. We process monomers into polymers, which are plastic granules. In general, the polymers themselves (polyethylene, polypropylene, PVC, PET, polystyrene, etc.) visually in the form of granules differ slightly from each other. Now we produce all main types of polymers - polyethylene (the most popular polymer in the world by tonnage), polypropylene PVC.

    The main areas of use of polyethylene and polypropylene - utilities, food packaging, building materials, automotive industry, medicine and even diapers.

    Pyrolysis furnaces

    PVC is probably familiar to everyone primarily through plastic windows and pipes. As for polystyrene, you see it almost every day. Often used for making substrates for vegetables and fruits in supermarkets, it can pack takeaway food in cafes and restaurants. But we produce another version of polystyrene foam - construction, which is superior in its thermal insulation properties to mineral wool and other heaters. Eco-friendly hives are also made from it. Remember Luzhkov? He's a fan of foam hives.

    Eggs in foamed polystyrene packaging

    We are currently building Tobolsk, Russia's largest petrochemical plant, ZAPSIBNEFTEHIM, with a capacity of 2 million tons of polymers per year. If you take all the products of this plant alone for a year and make plastic pipes out of it, it will be possible to replace all the rust pipes in the Russian Federation (more than 2 million kilometers of water pipe).

    25 kg bag with polypropylene granules

    We sell plastics in granules - this is the most convenient form for transportation (you can put the granules in a 25 kg bag or in big bags for several centners) and for further processing at the buyer's plant. There you just need to pour this plastic into the container and melt it under the necessary pressure and temperature, creating the necessary forms and imparting the necessary qualities.

    Handful of plastic granules

    Why under different temperature and pressure - because of the same polymer can make several types of plastic, differing in their physico-chemical properties. For example, from the same granules can be made as a thin plastic bag, and durable pipe. Customers, receiving granules from us, can add additives to them, achieving the desired properties. Therefore, there are many different brands of plastic of the same type.

    We also make PET, from which Coca-Cola and PepsiCo make containers for their products.


    By the way. We also make rubber. There are two rubber in the world - natural and synthetic. Moreover, the price and demand of synthetic fairly tightly tied to the price and demand for natural. This happened historically, since the natural rubber was originally introduced to the market. Natural rubber is collected by peasants of individual southern countries, and then they are handed over to processing companies. Synthetic - a product of petrochemistry.

    Hevea Brazilian , the main source of natural rubber

    We sell rubber to tire companies in briquettes.

    Rubber briquette

    Tire companies are the main consumers of rubber, we supply it for Bridgestone, Pirelli, Michelin, Continental and other manufacturers. At the same time, that today is quite a rarity for the Russian industry, we possess unique advanced technologies. For example, on the basis of our technology, we are building a new plant in Gujarat (near Goa) with our Indian partners.

    But not only tires - because of the rubber make and many other, less well-known, but also the necessary pieces. These are all kinds of covers, gaskets for cars, a lot of products for the plumbing industry, which are also found in every home, soles for shoes.


    This, by the way, is the peculiar beauty of petrochemistry as an industry. You can extract something and go to sell, or find a way to process and get some more value-added products.


    No matter how it sounded, polymers and other petrochemical products have become integral elements in the life of modern man. Partly because all this is quite new from a global point of view, a large number of myths and horror stories, they say, with synthetic materials, you have to be careful by default only because they are chemistry. By the way, in one of the following posts, colleagues will debunk several of the most popular myths about the fact that plastic in the microwave is guaranteed to undermine your health and mood, and your favorite soda in glass is always * tastier than the same soda in a plastic bottle.

    * always, except for blind tests

    Bonus for those who read to the end - our cartoon, which describes in more detail some stages of the creation of polymers.

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