Refining of shale oils. Production of diesel fuel oils


Unlike Estonia, oil shale is generally regarded worldwide as an “alternative oil”, and it is regarded as a potential raw material in the production of liquid fuels, particularly motor fuels. VKG possesses the best method for additional oil refining of all the oil shale processing plants operating worldwide, which enables it to produce high-quality fuel and marine oils. Additional oil refining includes oil preparation, the recovery of chemicals from processed water, atmospheric distillation and coking. VKG’s long-term objective is to move shale oils into a higher quality class, i.e. start the production of diesel oil according to the EURO V standard and marine oil with 1% sulphur content instead of fuel oils. In 2008, work commenced to define a refining technology for shale oils, and the technical conditions of processing, the desired products and the configuration of a refinery complex were formulated.

In 2009, VKG concluded agreements with two world-leading designers of refining technology and one developer of a new refining technology to effect pilot tests with Estonian shale oil and to create a refining process based on the results of these pilot tests. The testing programme has been fully realised within a year, and over ten possible process configurations have been developed, the most potentially effective of which have been selected. By the end of the year, technological companies have presented their offers to VKG on the design of the hydrogen recovery process and technology, as well as technology licensing. Two of these solutions fully correspond to the criteria of marine fuels MARPOL 2015 and diesel oil EURO V. The results of one more technology are only below the requirements in two parameters – density and cetane number. By mid-2009, the Republic of Estonia decided to support VKG’s activities through the Estonian enterprise development agency on developing the refining technology for shale oils as a strategically important area for Estonia with 8 mln kroons of a public grant to conduct applied research in order to determine a refining technology.