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Gazprom Neft Starts Bitumen Processing Unit at Moscow Refinery

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Sept. 13 (Bloomberg) -- OAO Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of Russia’s state-run natural-gas producer, started operating a 3.2 billion-ruble ($100 million) bitumen processer at its Moscow refinery this month as it seeks to reduce pollution.

The reconstructed unit has annual capacity to process 1.7 million metric tons a year, producing higher quality bitumen, the refinery’s Executive Director Vladimir Galkin told reporters today at the plant. A filtration system was also added to reduce airborne emissions and water pollution, at a cost of 3.6 billion rubles, he said.

Gazprom Neft is working on a $5.2 billion overhaul of the oil refinery, the only one within the Russian capital’s limits, to cut pollution, boost fuel quality and raise capacity. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin toured the plant today. The oil company allocated 14 billion rubles to invest in environmental measures at the plant from 2012 to 2014.

The Moscow plant plans to raise capacity from 10.5 million tons a year, or 210,000 barrels a day, to 12 million tons a year by 2017, Galkin said.

From May or June 2013, all motor fuels produced at the plant will meet Euro-5 standards, Arkady Egizaryan, the refinery’s head, told reporters. Euro-5 fuel has a maximum sulfur content of 10 parts per million, making it less polluting than other grades.

Gazprom Neft is also in talks with Total SA about the joint construction of a bitumen unit at the refinery with a capacity of 60,000 tons a year by 2014, which may cost $10 million, according to Egizaryan.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jake Rudnitsky in Moscow at jrudnitsky@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at sev@bloomberg.net

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