The sulfur content in the oil supplied to refineries located in the Central European part of Russia is nearing the critical levels, Igor Katsal, Deputy Vice President of Transneft, JSC, announced at the fourth meeting of the expert group of Transneft, which was held on April 3, 2013 and addressed the oil quality issues. “the quality parameters of the oil flow supplied to the central group of refineries – Samara and Udmurtia refineries - have reached the critical threshold or, in other words, the maximum value, above which the industrial processes of refining are no longer adequate for manufacturing of marketable oil products without their revamping and upgrading,” he said .
I. Katsal reminded that the sulfur amount in the oil of the Russian grade – Urals – is steadily increasing. For example, from 2005 toо 2012 the increase in sour crude oil was 18.3 mln tons and reached the level of 72.5 mln tons. The deterioration of the quality was mainly caused by the oil supplied from Tatarstan, Udmurtia, and Bashkiria. “In 2013 the Company is planning the further increase in the supplies of sour oil, which will go up by 4.5 mln tons to 76.5 mln tons as compared to 2012,” he said and then noted that sweet crude oil is supplied to the Transneft System from the Vankor field. According to I. Katsal, the growing production in this field results in increasing amounts of sweet oil, but it causes another problem – increased oil gravity. “In 2013, due to Vankor the increase in the sweet oil amount was 110 mln tons. However, there is another tendency – the percentage of oil with complicated geological characteristics and anomalous quality parameters is increasing. For example, the Vankor field oil, the target supply amounts of which will reach 25 mln tons in 2013, has 0.12% sulfur content, i.e. it can be classified as sweet oil. In the meantime, it has abnormally high gravity values – 875 kg/m3,” he said.
The Deputy Vice President explained that Transneft, JSC, thinks that the Ministry of Energy must pay attention to this problem. The problem can be solved, if Russian refineries become refocused on refining of oil with higher sulfur contents. “The methods offered by the Ministry of Energy, including the quality bank, cannot solve the problem,” I. Katsal said. “The problem can be solved only through refining at refineries,” he stated, having pointed out that sour oil should be taken care of, primarily, by TANECO and Samara-based refineries.