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SOCAR commissions new bitumen refinery as part of reconstruction

By Scott Jenkins |

Azerbaijan´s state energy company SOCAR recently held an opening ceremony for its new Biturox plant in the Heydar Aliyev Refinery near Baku, Azerbaijan. EPCM-Engineering Partner Pörner and SOCAR announced a successful commissioning as first part of the refinery reconstruction.

SOCAR closed an old refinery, now located within the city, and is expanding the Haydar Aliyev refinery for efficient oil processing at the latest international standard.

The first subproject of this ambitious project represented the bitumen plant operating with the worldwide proven Biturox process of the Austrian technology company Pörner. The EPCM contract of Pörner included licensing, pilot testing, basic and detail engineering, supply of main components as well as site supervi-sion, commissioning and start up assistance for the process plant and ancillary plants.

By using the Biturox process, high-quality bitumen can be produced from the Azerbaijani crude oils by oxidation of refinery feedstock. The further improvement of the national road network of the 86,600 km2 large country is an urgent issue of the government.

Using the latest off-gas treatment system, and designed for an annual capacity of 400,000 tons of road-paving bitumen grade 40/60, this plant meets the high demand for quality bitumen for the further expansion of the road network of Azerbaijan. It optimizes operating costs for the Heydar Aliyev refinery and significantly improves the ecological situation of Baku region.

The project consists of two areas. The first area includes the Biturox Plant, where the reactor produces road-grade bitumen according to international standards. The second area consists of 6 storage tanks and a loading station with six truck loading points.

The Pörner Biturox Technology is a substantial solution for the International Maritime Organization (IMO) 2020 regulation, which reduces the global limit for sulfur in bunker oils from the current 3.5% to 0.5%. So from 2020 refineries will no longer be able to sell their unrefined residues as bunker oils or as marine fuel.

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