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Russia's Gazprom Neft eyes steady oil refining volumes in 2023

St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF)

By Olesya Astakhova

OMSK, Russia (Reuters) - Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of Russian gas giant Gazprom, plans to keep its oil refining steady next year, at around 41 million tonnes, a company manager said, as the firm goes ahead with a modernisation of its ageing refineries.

The stable output at Gazprom Neft, which controls Russia's largest oil refinery in the western Siberian city of Omsk, shows the resilience of the Russian oil industry despite the harshest Western sanctions in recent history.

Russian oil refineries, many of which were built by the Soviet Union, have been undergoing a massive modernisation in a drive to improve fuel quality to meet ecological and technological requirements.

The 400,000-barrel per day (bpd) Omsk plant, 1,600 km east of Moscow, started operations in 1955 and is Russia's largest oil refinery.

Oleg Vedernikov, Gazprom Neft's chief of oil and gas refining, told reporters in comments cleared for publication on Thursday, that the company plans to keep oil processing steady next year, while it may increase fuel output.

He said that refining volumes in Moscow and Omsk refineries in January - September 2022 rose by 3.5% from the year-earlier period.

Oleg Belyavsky, the head of the Omsk refinery, said the plant has decreased its "environmental impact" by 40% since 2008. It plans to cut it further by 25% by 2025.

He said the company continues modernisation of the plant following the launch of a deep oil refining complex earlier this year. Next year, Gazprom Neft plans to install a primary refining complex at the plant with capacity of 8.4 million tonnes per year.

According to Vedernikov, the Omsk refinery is also working on production of the needle coke. The project is expected to start working in 2024.

Needle coke is the main raw material used in the electrodes that producers say can take up to six months to make with processes including baking and rebaking to convert the coke into

graphite.

(Writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)