For the past two years, Russian oil companies are actively trying to reduce imports of more expensive foreign components necessary for production of fuels and motor oils. Sanctions and the subsequent devaluation of the ruble, oddly, only has improved the situation in terms of import substitution and creating your own consumable products — catalysts and additives. What made the oilers in the case of import substitution in oil refining has told “news” the Vice-rector for innovation activity and commercialization development of Gubkin Russian state University of oil and gas. Gubkin Mikhail Silin.
In early 2014 the government had the idea to actively promote import substitution in many sectors of industry, and great attention was paid to just energy. How you consider, whether it is fruit in General and, in particular, in oil processing and petrochemistry?
— To say that in two years we have revolutionized. But to say that we are backward in this respect the economy, too, because our refinery is very well developed. Basically, the development is judged by two main criteria: depth of processing, that is, the share of light oil products obtained from a ton of oil, and their quality. Now, the depth we have, what unfortunately the press rarely writes, over the past 20 years has witnessed a revolution. Now average above 70%, and some factories, for example, at the Omsk oil refinery “Gazprom Oil” — and above 90% in the next few years to achieve a refining depth of 90%. Increasing depth through the use of additional equipment is hugely important — if you just distill the oil, the share of “light” will be only 50%.
— What kind of equipment are we talking about?
Is, in General, the catalysts [of the installation, the accelerated processing of oil in refineries]. The problem is actually very serious — all catalysts have a lifespan, and like to buy new if they suddenly will be sanctioned?
— Dependence on imported catalysts have high?
— 10-15 years ago was very high, but now many Winky [vertically integrated oil companies such as “Rosneft”, “Gazprom Neft”, etc.] over the past five years has established the production of catalysts of almost all types.
— Can a specific company to call?
— “Rosneft”, “Gazprom Neft” also they succeeded, in principle, the substitution of more costly imports do almost everything. That pleases, implement and develop our research institutes, a serious breakthrough here. Plus an important aspect of any Vinca is and processing of heavy oil residues, such technologies are just being developed in our Institute of petrochemical synthesis. A large set of catalysts is done in Chernogolovka and Novosibirsk, it turns out, the major centers of competence we have three. I think that the sanctions and the devaluation of the ruble is very well pushed to the development of their refining.
— Catalysts, it turns out, this is the main missing link in our oil refining?
— One of the main. There is still a need for the production of their additives [improve fuel quality and oil] and for the production of gasoline and oils. The problem is acute, more than 50% of all additives that we get from abroad. Have questions for the production of chemicals required for the components of these additives. It is impossible, however, to say that companies don’t think about it — the same “LUKOIL”, “Gazpromneft — lubricants”, structures “Rosneft” actively moving on its raw materials.
— The program of import substitution somehow affected their production? In October, the Prime Minister reprimanded several officials in different ministries for improper use of funds for import substitution and other anti-crisis program of the government.
— I don’t remember our oilmen abused, they need only to praise. The oilers have only 1.5 million people, and together they give about 50% of tax revenues.
When the ruble became convertible, the substitution nobody has yet thought of importing something. And of course the oilers are the first to say — clearly, there is a “Lada”, we love them, but I want same in the car ride, if I want to bring the maximum profit, I’ll likely choose the best process that will make me a leader. But it’s a shame that this philosophy is very much sagged science, building their competencies. The scientist has sat with no money — and went into trade, and to educate the new generation is very difficult. You can’t just click it, create a scientific school.
— Do you think that now the companies are investing in science enough?
— Why are nested, our University cooperates with all companies, can’t complain. But there are many nuances — there is a branch of science that Winky used to do it, through their research institutions. Although the world’s major developments are done in Universities. Still, attention to high school science we would like more. Developed outdated perception of Universities as a base for new staff, but not as innovators.
But research on the topic of creating your own competencies you, anyway, to continue?
— Where the same without this. Need to calculate risks for the future, and companies understand this and understand.
What then hinders the process?
— The Unas are weak resource base, few small-tonnage chemistry. There’s the giant plants, but they are sharpened by certain additives, and other components we have. Build while in the Soviet Union.
— If the import is there, then how the Boards are generally produced oil? May have been imported?
— Went just on his own, but because of the lack of additives and some chemical oils were not very good quality and not every car would have worked. But then it’s the cars were his, the main thing was not to forget to change the oil more often. Now almost all of our leaders create oil according to international quality standards for marine engines including.
For the last couple of years the situation with additives like something has changed?
— So far, so to say. Slowly, the dollar begins to influence, but do not pay attention to our market, as China and India.
— Is there a problem in terms of deterioration of the oil refinery that affects the processing?
— Of course, affected, but this problem is solved — our refineries are quite modernized over the last 15 years.
— Now the government is considering changing the tax maneuver and the existing taxes on oil, including, in the direction of their increase. Many experts fear that this will affect mining and processing. You agree with that?
— As they say now oil, easy oil is over. And unstable tax system does not contribute to the improvement of production. You can, of course, to increase the oil recovery factor, but it is expensive and costly. But even if you leave the mineral extraction tax [tax on extraction of mineral resources, the Finance Ministry expects it to grow]that is, most of these reserves will remain unprofitable, and the fall in prices of profitability obviously does not add. Change or tax increase carries too many risks — from the decrease of investments in scientific researches till direct drilling of new fields. It is possible to solve the immediate problem, but strategic, in that case, to ruin.
— Do you think that diversifying the economy is necessary or better to continue to invest in oil industry?
This diversification talk too much, but, in fact, doing nothing. There is such entertaining effect — the ruble invested in the oil industry, to bring 8 rubles in the development of the economy. A perfect example is the shale gas revolution in the United States. So it happened, it took to make the powerful drilling machines to produce drill pipes, underground equipment hydraulic-fracturing, pumps, tanks, chemical agents and so on. To build a mobile plant, if you want. Expensive to produce oil from shale? Expensive. But for the economy it’s a real mobilization — dropped a lot of money for the development of industries, in fact, on the private market [to December 2015 oil from the USA was not exported]. Thus the very oil industry has pushed the economy and led to a repeated reduction in gas prices. And the cheaper the gas, the cheaper the production of the same metal.
There is a dispute: the oilers are saying “stop scaring the fuel and energy sector”, economists — it’s time to kick our addiction to oil. Not a question, let’s get off, but where? Perhaps the FEC tractor economy? We need, and what they say each year the Ministry of industry and trade, to raise the building. In my opinion, the search for national technological ideas do not necessarily have to be the waste from the oil industry.
— As an option, some officials have suggested to refuse from the export of oil, as in his season in the US, and switch to the export of oil products, explaining that their cost is higher. In your opinion, do it better and is it worth it to increase its competence in oil refining and the number of refineries in principle?
— I don’t think it is worth doing. Imagine you in the garden grows well carrot. Why to abandon it in favor of cabbage, if cabbage does not sell? For the balance of refining capacity excess. Now in the world market of petroleum products in excess of, the cars are getting more economical, and Europe is gradually moving to green energy. Build new refineries makes no sense. As for the petrochemical industry, the oil companies are actively trying to build the same Surgutneftegaz, SIBUR and other companies. But it is important to represent where the market is going.