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Main > News > Experts of TTU: Situation analysis on the market of oil shale technologies. Theses.

Experts of TTU: Situation analysis on the market of oil shale technologies. Theses.

Experts of TTU Ltd:
Situation analysis on the market of oil shale technologies. Theses.

The interest of international companies and private investors to the processing of oil shale is always conditional upon economic reasons: if the cost of production of shale oil becomes lower than the cost of natural oil, many people are ready to invest money into the processing of shale.

Nowadays, in case of acute fluctuations of the cost of natural oil, at the choice of oil shale processing technology of the processing of oil shale, it is necessary to focus on a minimal cost of production of shale oil, which will ensure its cost effectiveness when the cost of natural oil is 40 USD per barrel.

There are only three industrial oil shale oil processing technologies, used in different countries:
- Kiviter (China, Estonia),
- Petrosix (Brazil),
- Galoter (Estonia).

Kiviter - disadvantages: only lump shale, poor efficiency, dirty shale oil, low-energy power gas, bad ecology.
Petrosix - disadvantages: only lump shale, dirty shale oil, high energy consumption.
Galoter - modern technology that allows to process all extracted shale, produce clean shale oil with a low content of sulfur and high-energy char gas, good ecology.

The first two technologies due to their disadvantages do not attract international investors, but many investors during the period of high cost of natural oil relied on the use of new technologies on the basis of ATP and Enefit-280 units. ATP retort with a capacity of 230 tonnes of shale per hour was supplied by Polysius Company (Thyssen-Krupp) to China Fushun Mining group on the Fushun Deposit for 100 mln. USD. The commissioning was planned for 2008, but the attempts of its commissioning have been continuing unsuccessfully for 7 years. Enefit-280 unit with a capacity of 280 tonnes of shale per hour was constructed in Estonia by Enefit Company (Eesti Energia and Outotec), near Narva but it was also unsuccessful. Over 260 mln. euros were spent for its construction, but the commissioning, planned for 2012, did not take place. It resulted in the loss of interest of international investors to these installations.

Galoter technology is provided by three companies on the international market: VKG (Estonia), Eesti energia (Estonia) and TTU Ltd (Russia).

VKG Private Company has 3 units of UTT-3000 type (under Galoter technology), which were renamed by the owners into Petroter-1, Petroter-2 and Petroter-3. The first of them were constructed on the Russian design on the basis of flow charts, mass and energy balances and selection of main equipment done by the experts of TTU Ltd. The commissioning of Petroter-1 took place in December of 2009 and the project targets were reached at the beginning of 2011. The delay of the commissioning phase was caused by non-agreed deviations from the project decisions concerning the choice of the equipment of shale supply, in particular, the installation of rolling crushers instead of hummer crushers, the structural errors of the Customer at designing and production of ash-to-air heat exchanger as well as the refusal of the owners to purchase the operational instructions for the unit operation of TTU Ltd.

After the return back to the initial project decisions (change of crushers and reconstruction of ash-to-air heat exchanger according to the recommendations of TTU Ltd), the unit reached the designed parameters and it currently operates with their excess.
The construction and operation of the unit were made in accordance with the license, received by VKG from TTU Ltd. The successful operation of Petroter-1 and fast repayment of loans motivated the VKG’s owners not only to replicate the units in the territory of Estonia (in accordance with the received license) by means of construction of Petroter-2 and Petroter-3 units, but also to expand to the external technology market with offers (Serbia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and China) in violation of the license conditions. After the consultation of potential customers with the experts of TTU Ltd, the Estonian suggestions were not accepted by Serbia, Uzbekistan and China, and all business relations in Ukraine, where VKG purchased a part of the Boltyshsky deposit, were naturally stopped due to the unstable situation.

Petroter-2 unit in Kohtla Jarve (Estonia) was commissioned in 2014. The commissioning works continued for a month, after that the unit was transferred to constant operation mode. The engineers of VKG together with the equipment manufacturer Alstom Company introduced some changes to the scheme of heat utilization and equipment construction block in comparison with the original (Russian) project and made some mistakes in the construction of waste-heat boiler and ash-to-air heat exchanger. That is why, the operation of the unit is accompanied with emergency shutdowns about twice a week due to a deliberate drop of the water level in the boiler drum. Moreover, due to the deformation of the high-temperature boiler bars, where heat exchanger surfaces (coils) are hanged, the displacement of these elements and the failure of heat exchange in these surfaces occurred. It is necessary to perform expensive repair works and the reconstruction of the heat utilization block because the work on the edge of emergency is not acceptable. The commissioning of Petroter-3, which is fully the same as Petroter-2 (concerning the heat utilization block), is planned for 2015, and, therefore, it is not ready for normal operation.

Such situation is caused by the absence of experience and knowledge of Estonian and German experts for the creation of reliable and cost-effective units in accordance with Galoter technology. This is also supported by the fact that they offered full copies of the Estonian units to international customers, while new scheme and constructive solutions are necessary for the processing of oil shale of other deposits.

Eesti Energia State Company operates the energy facilities, built upon the Russian projects. Among them there are the Baltic Power Plant, the Estonian Power Plant and “Oil Factory”, the Company also constructed and maintains Enefit-280 unit. “Oil Factory” has two UTT-3000 units, which were renamed in 2009 into Enefit-140 by the owners. These units were constructed upon the Russian project for the production of boiler and gas-turbine fuel. Boiler fuel was designed for the combustion in the reconstructed boiler TP-101, building 8B and gas-turbine fuel was designed for Krasnodar Central Heating and Power Plant (TETS-1). Enefit-140 units were at the stage of commissioning and reconstruction of separate supporting systems from 1980 till 1986. These units were the parts of the Estonian Power Plant as a fuel preparatory section but for a long time they were considered as auxiliary units by the administration of the power plant, so their supplying with raw material was made with whatever stocks remain. Moreover, in order to reduce the volume of the commissioning works, the blocks for the utilization of excess pyrolysis heat - waste heat boilers and ash-bearing heat exchangers were removed from the units, which led to the reduction of the efficiency of use of potential shale heat by 12%. Later, the reverse reconstruction of TP-101 boiler, building B, was also made for the transfer from the combustion of shale oil to the combustion of shale. During the commissioning works the disposal facilities for the purification of greasy and phenolic water were not utilized, and their neutralization was made by fire disposal in the boilers of the Estonian Power Plant. Besides, the reconstruction of the shale supply for UTT-3000 units was not made, so their supply with shale was insufficient. In 1986, the administration of the power plant was permitted to export shale oil and obtained the right to spend the money from its sale for the operating needs. From that moment the plant was put into commercial operation and has been working till present. The attitude of the management company Eesti energia towards the processing of shale till 2005 was the same (as an auxiliary non-desired unit) and they even offered to Russian companies to disassemble both UTT-3000 units and move them back to Russia for a token payment of 5 mln. USD. In 2004, Estonia was visited by the group of American experts with the aim of inventory of the power companies for their purchasing by American companies. In the report to the Congress, American experts said that the only interesting facilities are unique UTT-3000 units. From that moment, the attitude of Eesti energia to these units changed completely: with the support of the Government of Estonia, the programs for the construction of shale-processing plants in Estonia and for the export of Galoter technology to foreign countries were developed. In cooperation with Alstom German Company and Outotec Austrian Company, Enefit Company was established in 2009 for designing and construction of Enefit-280 unit, the parts of shale deposits in the USA and Jordan were bought and a powerful advertising campaign was launched. Technical project documentation of UTT-6700 unit, developed by the Russian experts, who worked in Estonia in the end of 1980-s, and left in Estonia after the loss of business relations was used for the creation of Enefit-280 unit. As Russian patent No. 52852 RF was effective on the Estonian territory, German and Estonian experts changed the scheme and UTT-6700 equipment in order to patent their solutions as a new development called Enefit-280. The unit construction started in 2009 and finished in 2012, capital construction costs and current costs for the unit maintenance amounted to over 260 mln. euros. The attempts of commissioning and putting into a short run continued for over 2 years, after that, the initiators of the project and the advertising campaign - the project manager Harri Mikk (2012) and the manager of Eesti energia Sandor Liive (2014) - resigned voluntarily.
Thus, the Estonian companies, competing with TTU Ltd on the market of shale technologies, have the following:
- VKG - three UTT-3000 units, one of them, developed upon the Russian project with an active participation of TTU Ltd, has operated successfully since 2010, the second unit has not been put into safe operation and requires the reconstruction for the return to the technical solutions of the original Russian project and the third unit is at the stage of completion and it will suffer the same fate as the second unit due to improper changes. All three units were developed on the basis of Russian technological solutions, specifically designed for the processing of shale of the Baltic Deposit and the specific conditions of the construction area and cannot be replicated for other countries as they cannot work with the shale with other physical and chemical characteristics;
- Eesti energia - two UTT-3000 units, constructed upon the Russian project in 1980-1984 for the processing of shale of the Baltic Deposit and the specific conditions of the construction area. The hydraulic system with the water flow rate for washout and ash haulage of 14 m3/t is used as a system for the removal of shale ash. Nowadays, it is forbidden to use such systems in the European Union, and it is technically impossible in the Mediterranean countries and Central Asia. To change the original Russian project, ash-bearing heat exchangers and waste heat boilers were removed from the units that led not only to reducing the efficiency of the shale use by 12% but to a high output of pollutants into the atmosphere. Enefit-280 unit, constructed by Eesti Energia in cooperation with Outotec Company and Alstom Company, does not operate. The money, invested into this unit, can be used for the construction of 4 UTT-3000 units.

All operating units of UTT-3000 type in Estonia with a general working lifespan of about 71 years were constructed upon the Russian projects with an active participation of TTU Ltd’s employees. All of them are designed for the processing of shale of the Baltic Deposit and the specific conditions of construction areas. The attempts of Estonian and German experts to change the original (Russian) technical solutions were unsuccessful, which shows the lack of experience and knowledge, as well their inability to create the same units for the processing of shale of other deposits and other local conditions. As a result the initiators of a huge advertising campaign left Eesti energia Company, and the advertising market became still. In fact, VKG and Eesti energia cannot offer anything real on the market of shale technologies.

The experts of TTU Ltd took an active part in the designing and construction of Petroter-1 unit and collected the information about the commissioning works and the unit operation. It allowed to optimize the technical solutions concerning the technological schemes of distillation and condensation sections of the unit and the number of non-standard equipment of the distillation section, to improve greatly the ecological characteristics of the production and to improve the quality of the obtained products and their nomenclature. The expansion of the production nomenclature due to the production of thiophene concentrate reduces the dependence of the production profitability on the natural oil price fluctuations. The profitability will be reached even at the oil price of 40 USD and lower per barrel.

TTU Ltd has been actively working abroad since 2007:
- the engineering investigations for the exploration of shale deposits in Myanmar and Jordan were made;
- the researches of the representative samples of shale form China (Longkou, Maomin, Xinjian), Serbia (Aleksinac), Jordan (Al Atarat, El Lajun, Sultani), Morocco (Tarfaya), Uzbekistan (Sangruntau), Kazakhstan (Kenderlyk, Cherny zaton, etc.), Israel (two parts of Mishor Rotem), Egypt, Brazil and Burmese shale were conducted. The researches were conducted both in accordance with a standard Fisher’s methodics and on the bench scale installation imitating the pyrolisis process in the units of UTT type. The research examined the shale itself and the pyrolysis products and production wastes - ash for its use for the production of cement clinker and metal content. According to the analysis results, the mass and energy balances of the processing of shale were developed, for this purpose an automated calculation program was created,
- the conceptual construction projects of the shale-processing plants and power plants, which became the basis for the issue of the license for operations of deposits were made for different companies of Jordan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Morocco and Israel,
- the bench tests of the process of tiophene extraction from different fractions of shale oil were performed and a required information volume for the development of industrial technology was obtained,
- the technology of purification of char gas with a high content of sulfur from sulfur compounds with the production of sulfur and vitriol acid was determined,
- the technical solutions for the construction of the shale-processing plants and power plants in arid areas were developed,
- the procedure of acquisition of the part of Mishor Rotem Deposit started,
- besides the processing of shale, the experts of TTU Ltd develop the units for the processing of solid municipal waste, black coal, schungite, whose schemes include the gasification processes of raw material, in addition to pyrolisis and combustion,
- UTT-500 units with a capacity of 500 tonnes of raw material per day are developed,
- the schemes for the production of energy as a main product, and not as a by-product are developed.

Scientific and technical potential of TTU Ltd is incomparably higher than that of its competitors, and it is the basis for the development of projects and construction of the shale-processing plants and power plants with the use of the products on the basis of the shale processing in different countries.