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Highlighting the pros

Date of publication: 29 March 2018 Printable version

Energy efficiency saves hundreds of millions of roubles for oil transportation company.

Far Eastern subsidiary of Transneft has been implementing energy-saving measures within the scope of the Year of Energy Saving declared at the Company.

Professionals clean the oil pipeline from the paraffin materials that settle down on its walls on a quarterly basis, so that the main line pumps do not consume extra electricity

Fine work

The notion of a year is quite conventional, since an energy management system has been functioning at all production facilities of the oil transportation giant for several years now. Thus, 2018 does not only mark a new period in the Company’s energy saving efforts but will also be the year to summarise the results of the previous stages.

Let us remind you, since 2009 our country has seen serious efforts in improving energy efficiency of the economy. It was then when the following objective was set out by the law: to reduce energy intensity of the gross domestic product by 40%. Transformations in the industrial sector have proved to be the most significant, yielding the most tangible results. Oil transportation, which already has its leaders, is one of such industries.

In 2017, Transneft Far East (the Company operates the second phase of the Eastern Siberia – Pacific Ocean trunk pipeline (ESPO-2) spent less energy per ton of crude pumped than many other oil transportation companies.

“No renovation was needed,” says Vitaly Stepanov, Chief Engineer of Transneft Far East. “Our enterprise, which was founded just a decade ago, is unique, having had cutting-edge technologies included in its design documentation as early as at its design stage. We haven’t lost that competitive edge over time, which explains the need to apply the widest possible array of existing technical means and methods, which was a crucial objective in the initial stage.”

For example, in the first years of operation. the Company set the need for developing the most efficient crude pumping modes as its priority. The oil transporters sought assistance of the academic community from a specialised institute: it was impossible to apply the existing developments at the time, and the Company’s technological capabilities were unmatched in the industry. The modes were, in fact, developed from scratch. As a result, in the first years of operation the number of running main pump units was reduced thanks to a more effective load distribution. This was done in 2014, to result in huge savings of 47.5 million kWh of energy within a year, which translates into RUB 92.2 million.

Systemic approach

The Company has been implementing the energy saving and efficiency improvement programme since 2014, and its action plan is scheduled until 2022. When the Company’s professionals speak of their best practices in this sphere, the unified control system (UCS) is always mentioned first. There’s a good reason why Transneft Far East can be proud of this software suite. The smart system is intended to control processes as well as work and automatic protection modes of ESPO-2 sections. Every single moment it ensures safety of crude oil transportation via the 2,000-km-long pipeline. Control centres in Khabarovsk (the main centre), Belogorsk and Dalnerechensk (both backup centres) receive information about everything occurring in the linear portion and at the oil pumping stations.

“UCS enables a one-touch start and shutdown of the pipeline’s process section. In abnormal situations it instantly brings the PS out of service, whereby crude oil continues to be pumped via a pipe bypassing that PS, without stopping for a single moment,” Vitaly Stepanov explains.

Such uninterrupted operation is a key component of energy efficiency since any cessation of oil movement means enhancing pumping volumes to make up for the downtime and an additional start after that. Notably, during a 10-second starting sequence the motor consumes the same amount of energy as during 40 minutes of operation. The Company calculated that UCS saves 50 MWh annually by preventing pauses in operation of the ESPO-2 process section.

“We have been able to achieve a lot using such contemporary equipment as hydraulic couplings and variable frequency converters (VFCs),” says Viktor Dobrovolsky, Chief Engineer at the Chief Power Engineering Section of Transneft Far East. “They control the rpm rate of pumps and allow to consume as much energy as needed for pumping a definite volume of crude oil”.

As such, a motor cannot change its frequency (rotations per minute). It always runs in the pre-set mode, rotating at the set rpm rate. Earlier, a gate valve was used to control pressure in pipelines, by mechanically closing the flow. This process is very energy-intensive. At the ESPO-2 pipeline, a hydraulic coupling ensures the rpm rate and the pressure required at each point of time (at the ESPO offshoot to the Komsomolsk Refinery this is done by a VFD (variable frequency drive).

Other ways to optimise costs include maximum friction reduction inside a pipeline and preventing clogging. The problem is that crude oil contains heavy suspensions. These settle down on the inner walls of the pipe and may, over time, drastically shrink its diameter. In order to prevent the main pump units from consuming any extra energy due to those paraffin materials, the pipeline is cleaned on a quarterly basis. The figures are quite convincing: over the past 3 years the use of PIG traps at ESPO-2 has translated in saving 4,248 MWh of energy (RUB 9.2 million).

Every trifle matters

“Heating is another huge cost item,” continues Viktor Dobrovolsky. “Transneft Far East facilities are not connected to central networks, the heat is provided by the Company’s boiler houses.”

There is a multitude of measures the Company has planned or is already implementing to curb boiler fuel consumption. For instance, in 2016, Transneft Far East installed an indoor temperature control system. Some of heating radiators were fitted with electronically programmable automatic regulators. The sensors are now able to respond to changes in outdoor temperature and adjust the heating. The temperature is reduced to 15°C on days off and holidays, when there are no employees at the facilities. That’s how the Company forgot about overheating and saved RUB 1.6 million in one year. In 2018, Transneft Far East will install automatic temperature control systems in 24 buildings and facilities of Belogorsk Regional Oil Pipeline Directorate (RPD).

Motor fuel costs are a special issue. Just like heat, this is an energy source, which can and must be saved. Here’s the recipe: optimise haulage routes, rule out empty runs and downtime. Fuel consumption dropped by 20% after the Company’s trucks, cars, buses and specialty vehicles the were fitted with GLONASS kits.

As for lighting, we have managed to reach 70% savings. Nine out of ten luminaires used at Transneft Far East facilities have been replaced with LED light sources. We started in 2015 with indoor lamps. In 2016, we upgraded the façade lighting, and last year worked on the outdoor lighting, which helped us save a huge amount.

“We installed LED searchlights, which gave more light and enabled us to save some RUB 6 million,” Mr. Dobrovolsky relates.

As a rule of thumb, best result is achieved when saving is closely tied to innovations. In a serious company every trifle matters…


In 2017, Transneft Far East underwent surveillance audit for compliance with the ISO 50001 energy efficiency certificate. The Company confirmed full compliance with all requirements of the standard.

Facts and figures

The second phase of the Eastern Siberia – Pacific Ocean pipeline system is 2,047 kilometres long

9 oil pumping stations have been built at the ESPO-2.

588.46 mWh was consumed by all PSs of Transneft Far East in 2017.

The total length of the 220 kV high-voltage power lines that are the responsibility of Transneft Far East is 143 kilometres.

The total length of the 10 kV overhead transmission lines that are the responsibility by Transneft Far East is 2,081 kilometres

Over 90 million roubles were allocated to improving energy efficiency by Transneft Far East in 2015-2018

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