• Slovnaft successfully finished the planned turnarounds
  • the company has invested more than EUR 60 million in summer maintenance and modernisation
  • a high number, up to 21 production units were shut down
  • approximately 1800 external workers, mainly from engineering companies, participated in the works

Bratislava, August 1 2022 – After more than two months of planned tunarnounds, the refinery of Slovnaft in Bratislava is now in full operation and its production is available for the domestic and foreign markets. A total of 21 production units have been gradually shut down since the end of May 2022. Slovnaft has invested more than EUR 60 million in their cleaning, maintenance and modernisation, thus reducing the environmental burden, increasing the energy efficiency of petroleum product production and strengthening the safety of complex technological processes.

"Slovnaft has successfully started up the last production unit in maintenance and thus completed the summer phase of planned turnarounds. Regular inspection, cleaning and maintenance of production equipment is an important and crucial part of safe and efficient operation of the refinery and petrochemical facilities. Slovnaft's production units are now fully operational again and the company is able to satisfy the needs of the domestic and foreign market," says Martin Bičan, Head of Project and Turnaround Office at SLOVNAFT, a.s..  

During the summer shutdowns Slovnaft spent almost EUR 36 million on the inspection and maintenance of its production facilities and invested more than EUR 24 million in their modernisation. During the most extensive summer part of the turnarounds, 21 production units were gradually shut down and restarted after the work was completed. The last of them was the Ethylene unit – a key part of Slovnaft's petrochemical production, where the first phase of the modernisation project was carried out, aimed at operational safety and lifetime extension. The production unit has new measuring instruments and control valves, new piping, and the reliability of compressor operation has also been improved. In total, approximately 1,800 external workers were involved in the works during the summer shutdowns.

A unique project within the summer phase of the turnarounds was the replacement of the aging atmospheric furnace on the Atmospheric Distillation 5 (AD5) unit, which had been in operation since 1967, with a new one. At the same time, the AD5 column was replaced with a new one, which makes the distillation process more efficient and reduces the risk of fire. The replacement of two pumps in the Circulation Center of the refinery brings a direct reduction in energy consumption. Electricity consumption within the Circulation Center should be reduced by 6.7% annually.

"Although the planned summer shutdowns were extremely demanding in terms of the scope and nature of the work, we were able to complete the required scope of work within budget without a major adverse event. The work during the summer shutdowns was in line with the principles and standards of the Turnaround Excellence programme, which aims to reduce the time of planned shutdowns and thus also the negative impact of the refinery operations on the residents in the vicinity of the refinery," adds M. Bičan. Slovnaft informed about the impact of the works on the comfort of residents around the refinery on its website and via the Sused Slovnaft (Neighbor Slovnaft) mobile application.

This year's cycle of planned turnarounds will conclude in the autumn. Three production units will be shut down for approximately three weeks. In total, Slovnaft will invest a total of EUR 78 million in maintenance, repair and modernisation of more than half of its production units this year within the framework of three planned shutdowns – spring, summer and autumn.

  • The Research Institute for Oil and Hydrocarbon Gases (VÚRUP) was established in 1952 in the laboratories of the first Apollo refinery in Bratislava, with branches in Cologne and Prague
  • in 1992 VÚRUP developed the Anabex additive for the Slovnaft refinery, which enabled the transition of the old vehicle fleet on Slovakia to unleaded petrol
  • three years later, thanks to Anabex, Slovakia became one of the first five European countries to introduce exclusively unleaded petrol in order to protect the environment
  • currently VÚRUP owns accredited laboratories, is involved in research and process safety and covers the Hydraulic groundwater protection, which protects Žitný ostrov

BRATISLAVA, July 22nd 2022 – The Research Institute for Oil and Hydrocarbon Gases in the past, called VÚRUP, a.s. today. The company, thanks to which Slovakia belonged among the first countries in the European Union to get rid of leaded petrol, celebrated its 70th anniversary in July this year. Since its foundation in 1952, the Institute has created excellent conditions for young chemists and their intellectual potential has contributed to the development of a key area of the economy. The development of the Institute reflects changes Slovakia has undergone since the Second World War.

"From the very beginning, VÚRUP profiled itself as an institute with great ambitions and high demands on the level of expertise of its employees. The emphasis on the quality of the people and the high level of results has been maintained even as it has expanded its competences in all the activities that it has gradually incorporated into its portfolio," says Zsolt Novotný, Director of the VÚRUP, a.s.

In the first decades of its existence, the Institute's research projects were oriented towards the processing of sulphur paraffinic crude oils, which were imported to Czechoslovakia from the former USSR. Among the first important works conducted was research on catalytic hydrotreating of oils for Slovnaft. The Bratislava refinery was one of the first in the world to use this advanced process. The VURUP’s system of corrosion protection of production equipment was also of great benefit to the refining practice.

Photo of the laboratory of VÚRUP from the period of the company's establishment.

After 1990, the VÚRUP focused primarily on the quality of motor fuels produced in the Bratislava refinery. Domestic research resulted in the development the Anabex additive in 1992. It enabled the transition of the older vehicle fleet in Slovakia to the use of unleaded petrol. In 1995, Slovakia was among the first five countries in Europe to use unleaded petrol exclusively. The transition to low-sulphur diesel fuels is also connected to the VÚRUP. After 2000, the VÚRUP also became more involved in European research projects.

Photo of the laboratory of VÚRUP from the 80's.

In addition to research and development activities and testing in independent laboratories, the VÚRUP, a.s. currently also covers process safety and environmental services. The so-called specialty production, which provides dearomatization of n-alkanes, production of small-tonnage products and their sale, has also been maintained. Environmental geological surveys were also added a few years ago. This includes hydraulic groundwater protection, which protects the river island of Žitný ostrov and its groundwater, and is managed by hydrogeologists alongside experienced technicians.

Photo of the laboratory of VÚRUP nowdays.

The VÚRUP is a modern diversified company. Over seven decades the Institute has changed, but it still concentrates the intellectual power and creativity of people coming from chemical and natural science background and enables them to implement projects with specific outputs. This is evidenced by the immediate start of SLOVNAFT HYGI Fluid disinfectant production after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. "VÚRUP has always had concrete and measurable results. We have been connected with practice from the beginning, we are solving real tasks, cooperating with similar foreign institutions and expanding our scope. We are employing       people who want to develop their expertise. I believe that a company with such a long tradition and excellent results has a successful future ahead of it," concludes Zsolt Novotný.

About VÚRUP, a.s.

VÚRUP, a.s., is a 100% subsidiary of SLOVNAFT, a.s. It focuses on research and development, has accredited testing laboratories, operates Hydraulic Groundwater Protection, is an accredited company in the field of process safety and environment and is engaged in small tonnage production, with more than three quarters of its production consisting of n-alkane products. The company employs up to 200 people.

  • a pair of Slovnaft service stations close to the village of Pohranice near Nitra completed
    the missing infrastructure for the travelling public in both directions
  • the new service stations offers a complete range of traditional and alternative fuels
  • Slovnaft invested EUR 4.3 million in the construction of twin service stations
  • more than 60 new jobs had been created in the region thanks to the 24/7 operation of
    the new stations

Bratislava, 17 June 2022 – The new modern service stations raised on the PR1BINA expressway close to the village of Pohranice near Nitra in both directions for cars, drivers and travellers. The sections of the expressway without the possibility of refuelling have thus been shortened by approximately half. There is a full range of traditional fuels, LPG, AdBlue and a 150 kW charging station for electric vehicles on offer. Moreover, a unique feature will soon be available on site: refuelling of CNG comfortably directly from the refuelling stands. Slovnaft has invested 4.3 million euros in the construction of the pair of service stations, which offer both environmentally friendly solutions and accessible services for people with physical disabilities and limited mobility. The stations have created more than 60 new permanent jobs in the region. Slovnaft currently operates 272 service stations in Slovakia.

"Our newest service stations are unique in several areas. The five integrated refuelling stands are located in the largest roofed refuelling area. The stands are equipped with self-service payment terminals and customers can draw water for their windscreen washer from the Ecotanks while they are filling up. The restaurant part of our stations has undergone the most significant transformation. At Pohranice, our customers will find a modern gastro concept that responds to the demand for quality home cooking. We are thus reaching a new level of on-the-go catering," said Oszkár Világi, Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of SLOVNAFT, a.s.

The largest refuelling area offers a generous space for convenient access directly to the shop without refuelling via separate passing lanes. Slovnaft emphasised ecological solutions at the two new service stations – Ecotanks are installed at each dispenser for cars, saving both time and nature – washer fluid can be pumped directly during refuelling in the required quantity and without creating plastic packaging waste. Green roofs, green fences, heat pump heating and smart exterior and interior lighting that reacts to the movement of cars and customers, energy-saving LED lights. These attributes approve the environmental friendliness of the new Slovnaft service stations.

The shop offers a comfortable and customer-friendly shopping design and surprises with a new concept of a modern restaurant and kitchen that brings traditional Slovak cuisine from quality ingredients. The atmosphere of the restaurant is underlined with rustic interior elements, wood details and 3D printed custom designer lamps. Whether you choose to sit in the restaurant or fancy a coffee to go, the traditional and reliably high quality Fresh Corner menu is not to be missed.

"Motorway service stations are the safe spots for travelling customers on their journeys. They need to rest, to recharge or refuel their cars, but also to relax and to energize themselves. I believe that our customers will be delighted by our new restaurants, which will surprise them not only with their design, but also with tasty meals made from quality ingredients. The rush on the motorway service stations can be enormous, so their operation must run reliably like clockwork," emphasized Timea Reicher, Director of the SLOVNAFT Retail Store, a.s.

When designing the service stations, Slovnaft cooperated with the civic association Bez bariéry, Košice, and thus both of them also meet the needs of customers with physical disabilities. Noteworthy features include an enlarged designated parking space, a handrail for better balance when handling personal belongings at a checkout counter, a round table in the restaurant area that is easier to access with wheelchair, and a special toilet for the disabled with adjustable folding mirrors and a handling bed for adults. The doors in the rooms for people with disabilities can be opened with a Euro-key and the tills are equipped with communication and sound amplification equipment for people using hearing aids.

There is also a dedicated children's toilet and a bidet shower with washbasin in the ladies’ toilets. Most of the materials are antibacterial. Customers will find water, soap dispenser, hand drying facilities or paper towels in one compact unit above each washbasin.

Behind the new service stations there is a spacious rest area with plenty of parking places and benches, a children's playground and a dog run.

 

About SLOVNAFT Group

SLOVNAFT Group is an integrated refining and petrochemical group. The key company of the Group is SLOVNAFT, a.s., which is mainly engaged in the processing of crude oil in one of the most complex European refineries and in the wholesale and retail sale of fuels. Slovnaft operates the largest network of petrol stations in the Slovak Republic. The company is one of Slovakia's leaders in CSR and corporate philanthropy, and significantly supports sports, culture, education, youth and environmental revitalisation. Forbes magazine ranked Slovnaft among the most valuable Slovak brands. SLOVNAFT Group is a member of the international MOL Group.

Contact for media:

Anton Molnár

Spokesperson and Head of Communications

tel: +421 905 393 161

The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a Washington, DC-based court of arbitration under the World Bank, has issued its final rulings in the dispute between MOL Plc and the Republic of Croatia in a 216-page Award. Thus, an arbitration case that began in 2013 has now been finally decided. The Award finds that MOL is the prevailing party in the arbitration. The arbitration tribunal awarded MOL over US$235 million including interest.

On the central issue in the arbitration regarding Croatia’s allegations that certain agreements that were approved by the Croatian Government in 2009 were obtained by corruption, the Award states clearly and unequivocally that, based on the extensive evidence analyzed by the arbitrators, Croatia’s bribery allegations are rejected. The ruling of the Washington-based court of arbitration means that, once again, an international body comprised of highly accomplished and experienced decisionmakers, has determined that neither MOL nor its Chairman and CEO Zsolt Hernádi engaged in any corrupt activities as Croatia has been alleging since 2011.

Over the course of an 8-year arbitration, the three-member arbitral tribunal reviewed all the key evidence, including evidence that Croatia presented in the recent trial in Zagreb which led to the conviction of MOL’s CEO and Chairman and former Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader. The evidence included the testimony of dozens of witnesses, tens of thousands of documents, and the opinions of internationally-recognized experts. Croatia argued in the arbitration, as it did in the criminal proceedings in Zagreb, that the evidence it presented established bribery and corruption. Like the arbitrators in the earlier UNCITRAL arbitration that ended in December 2016, the ICSID arbitrators unanimously disagreed. 

In rejecting Croatia’s bribery charges, the arbitrators examined in detail the testimonies of Croatia’s key witness, Robert Jezic. On every aspect of Jezic’s testimony, the arbitrators found him to be contradictory, evasive and untruthful. The arbitrators expressed strong doubts regarding the reliability and veracity of the witness during the dispute settlement process as well as the criminal process in Zagreb.  They endorsed the unanimous opinion of the UNCITRAL arbitrators that Jezic must be considered a thoroughly unreliable witness whose testimony cannot be accepted by any competent court or decisionmaker.  The arbitrators also found unreliable the testimony of a Swiss tax adviser, who served as Croatia’s other main witness in the criminal proceedings in Zagreb.

The Award marks the end of a lengthy international legal dispute. Other than in Croatia, all courts and prosecution offices have come to the same conclusion: that no corruption had taken place.

In December 2016, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) ruled in favour of MOL. According to the court of arbitration, Croatia was unable to provide proof for the corruption charges, while the crown witness was determined as lacking credibility entirely.

The Constitutional Court of Croatia found severe infringements of rights to due process of those participating in the trial during the Croatian judicial procedures.

As a consequence of the establishment of the fact that no corruption had taken place, the ICSID tribunal also ruled on the claims for damages put forward by MOL. The ruling of ICSID established that the Croatian government failed to take over the gas trading business (PP) of INA despite its contractual obligation to do so, inflicting USD 167.84 million in damages on INA, and thus indirectly to MOL. According to the court, Croatia caused further damages to MOL by forcing the sale of PP’s stored gas, for which MOL was awarded USD 16.1 million. The ruling established that Croatia is to pay interest to MOL and reimburse a significant portion of its arbitration costs. The total amount of damages awarded to MOL is around USD 236 million, including interest.  Interest will continue to accrue on this amount until the awarded amounts are paid by Croatia. As MOL was also the victorious party in the arbitration, the tribunal also ruled that Croatia pay most of the costs of the proceedings.

Several additional claims by MOL were denied by the arbitrators for technical reasons.   

Croatia is signatory to the international treaty that established ICSID. Under its international law obligations and Croatian law, Croatia is required to respect the arbitrators’ decisions as if they are a decision of Croatia’s highest courts.

  • Slovnaft to invest EUR 63 million in modernisation and expansion of polypropylene production
  • comprehensive reconstruction will be carried out by the renowned German company Linde Engineering
  • polypropylene production capacity will be increased to 300 KTPY in favour of the most demanded products
  • modernisation of the existing production unit Polypropylene 3 (PP3) will reduce the volume of emissions

“One of the goals of our updated 2030+ strategy is to reduce the production of fossil fuels and strengthen the production of basic plastics. This investment confirms the path we have set out, increasing polypropylene production at the Bratislava refinery to 300 kilotons per year. Linde Engineering is our reliable partner. Less than 20 years ago the company built the PP3 polypropylene production unit in Slovnaft and now it will renovate and modernise it,” said Gabriel Szabó, Executive Vice President of Downstream at MOL Group.Bratislava, June 1, 2022 – Slovnaft invests EUR 63 million in the expansion and modernisation of polypropylene production. The investment, which is the third largest in the last 15 years, will increase production capacity, reduce emissions, improve safety and bring greater attractiveness to customers. Linde Engineering, a renowned German company, is the contractor for the comprehensive reconstruction of the existing PP3 production unit. The contract for the modernisation and expansion of the PP3 unit was signed today in Bratislava by representatives of both companies.

“The revamp will enable Slovnaft to meet rising demands from the polyolefin processing industry. The project is challenging given its complexity: Interdependency with other process facilities allows only a narrow time frame for a shutdown. With our proven expertise and best-in-class services, we will be able to complete all installation works, including construction, commissioning and testing,” said Juergen Nowicki, CEO Linde Engineering. 

The annual production capacity of polypropylene, sold on the market under the brand names of Tipplen and Tatren, will increase by 33 kilotons (kt) to 300 kt. The capacity increase will focus on strengthening the share of the most in-demand grades of polypropylene, which Slovnaft now produces in around 20 specifications. Storage and logistics infrastructure will also be increased. A further 16 storage silos will be added to the current 45. The adaptation of the technology will reduce emissions and the modern logistics infrastructure will improve safety at work.

The project will commence in the summer of 2022 with the preparation of project documentation and the processing of permits. The actual construction and reconstruction are planned to start in summer 2023 and are scheduled for completion in October 2024. The pre-preparatory phase started in 2015 with market analyses and feasibility studies. “The investment decision was made in September 2021 following by negotiations on the contract with Linde Engineering while the project preparation was also affected by  the pandemic and the war in Ukraine,” said Michal Hušek, project manager for SLOVNAFT, a.s., about the preparations for the reconstruction of PP3.

Polypropylene is produced in Slovnaft in the form of milk glass coloured granulate. It is used in the food, textile and furniture industries, in the production of laboratory equipment, non-woven textiles, food and cosmetics containers, toiletries, and even toys.

 

In the photo after signing the contract from the left: Marek Senkovič, CEO of Slovnaft, Gabriel Szabó, VP for Downstream at MOL Group, Dennis Schulz, Managing Director of Linde Engineering, and Lars Oboth, Commertial Director of Linde Engineering.

About SLOVNAFT Group

SLOVNAFT Group is an integrated refining and petrochemical group. The key company of the Group is SLOVNAFT, a.s., which is mainly engaged in the processing of crude oil in one of the most complex European refineries and in the wholesale and retail sale of fuels. Slovnaft operates the largest network of petrol stations in the Slovak Republic. The company is one of Slovakia's leaders in CSR and corporate philanthropy, and significantly supports sports, culture, education, youth and environmental revitalisation. Forbes magazine ranked Slovnaft among the most valuable Slovak brands. SLOVNAFT Group is a member of the international MOL Group.

About Linde

Linde is a leading global industrial gases and engineering company with 2021 sales of US$31 billion (€26 billion). The company serves a variety of end markets including chemicals & energy, food & beverage, electronics, healthcare, manufacturing, metals and mining. Linde's industrial gases are used in countless applications, from life-saving oxygen for hospitals to high-purity & specialty gases for electronics manufacturing, hydrogen for clean fuels and much more. Linde also delivers state-of-the-art gas processing solutions to support customer expansion, efficiency improvements and emissions reductions.

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