Our developments
Table of contents

Our developments

In 2018, we focused our development activities mainly on searching for the options for increasing the load on our existing production facilities to the maximum and digitalization and optimization of our business processes. The main criterion in terms of project selection was a positive impact on the cost value via an increase in the volume of production or a decrease in production expenses.

One of the largest projects we have launched was the purification of circulating oil, which allows making heavy oil fractions that have so far been directed back into the production process saleable. The project will be implemented in full scale in 2019, and, according to the plan, it should increase the volume of end produce if VKG by ca 5%. In order to improve the quality of oil shale petrol, we have implemented a technological solution, in the result of which we have managed to significantly reduce the level of hydrogen sulphide and mercaptans contained in the original product. The improved quality indicators have made the product much more stable and increased its marketing capacity significantly. The integral automatic solutions implemented within both projects were developed by the GroupĀ“s own subsidiary Viru RMT.

The most essential cost component of shale oil production is the cost value of oil shale.

In 2018, we digitalized the entire amount of information pertaining to mining technologies, and from now on we have an excellent overview of the workload of the machines as well as the capacity for the optimization of logistics. Now we are capable of working in a larger number of chamber blocks with the same number of machines. In the result of the project implementation, we will be able to reduce the number of shifts with the same production volumes, enable our workers to go on a company vacation, and, in the long-term perspective, to shift from a 6-day to a 5-day working week.

In addition to that, we carried out a pilot project in mining in order to visualize the working parameters of the ceiling support equipment. The ceiling support equipment used in the Ojamaa mine has been equipped at the factory with the sensors measuring different working parameters of the machine. However, so far there has been no software for data transmission, submission, and performance measurement. In the course of the pilot project, the data transmission equipment was integrated into the supporting machine, and the software for analyzing and visualizing the work done during shifts was customized. The ongoing measurement and analysis of the work that is being done provide very important information that allows detecting the factors affecting efficiency and prioritizing and implementing the improvement of rectification measures.

Throughout a year we have also been researching different bioenergetic options, mainly from the point of view of production of bioadditives to motor fuels. We have found out that there are not enough raw materials in Estonia for developing this kind of production, the projects are small-scale, and this is why we regard the entry into this field as futile and unattractive. We have also been very careful in terms of business spheres, the viability of which is mainly based on national subsidies.

In 2019, we are going to focus on the three most important topics, namely enhancing the value of shale oil products, expanding the options for using the char gas, and digitalizing production processes.

In the field of shale oil products, one of the main priorities is researching the possibilities for developing prerefining technologies and ascertaining profitability. While so far VKG has been selling its oil products mainly as a component of marine fuel, via prerefining it is possible to make the end product of shale oil conformant with quality requirements. Besides, we have manufactured a test batch of coke with the quality suitable for electrode production for the metallurgical industry. If our products pass the tests, we are planning to move from producing low-quality energetical coke to high-quality electrode coke production.

Currently, VKG Energia is producing electrical energy, industrial steam and hot water for district heating from the char gas generated in the course of shale oil production. At the same time, In the shape of the char gas we are dealing with the product that contains ca 30% more energy than the natural gas, and its scope of application is much wider. The expansion of the scope of application of gas requires a large number of investments, but if we succeed, we will be able to reduce the amount of CO2 emissions significantly. An abrupt rise in CO2 quotas has provided us with a new perspective in terms of developments in this particular field.

There are several projects connected with digitalization. First of all, we are planning to conduct the diagnostics of different pieces of equipment (e.g. pumps) and automate the generation of orders for maintenance and repairs. In the results of developments we have planned to implement, it will be possible to conduct maintenance and repair works on an "as needed" basis, prevent breakdowns, reduce maintenance expenses and increase the service life of the equipment.

The list of developments is actually much longer and includes both the innovations pertaining to technology sales components, introducing fine chemistry at the USA market and several IT solutions. The strong financial status of VKG enables us to focus on research and development activities more than ever before and create strong grounds for increasing the value of the company in the future..