Cherkassy, Ukraine


[ Published in HOERBIGER@MOTION 03/2013 ]

The Ukraine is not only a successful agricultural country, it is also one of the leading producers of fertilizers worldwide. In Cherkassy, OSTCHEM operates one of the largest fertilizer factories in the world. Here, 4500 employees produce 2,900 tons of liquid ammonia on a daily basis, which is directly processed into urea/ammonium nitrate, and consequently into fertilizer. HOERBIGER has worked with the company for close to ten years.

The industrial complex commissioned in 1986 has visibly come of age. The compressor fleet of OSTCHEM's production in Cherkassy is being serviced and maintained with all available means. The five 6,650-kilowatt Creusot Loire compressors reliably assure the production of liquid ammonia around the clock, which is used to produce different fertilizers after passing through additional processing stages. OSTCHEM is presently lacking the funds to replace the veteran compressors. As a result, the company relies on strong and courageous partners who open up new avenues to equip and upgrade the existing production equipment, so that the company can continue to successfully operate on the global market. HOERBIGER's experts make it possible.

In the best case scenario, the compressors made by Creusot Loire run around the clock. The planned production volumes leave little room for downtime. There is only one replacement compressor for backup. When two compressors fail, the full production volume is no longer assured. The greatest risk is that a fault may cause several compressors to give out. Nonetheless, high financial risks loom already when a single compressor is not operational: switching over to the back-up compressor takes approximately half an hour. Lost production during this time is some six tons of liquid ammonia. At the same time, 6,600 cubic meters of natural gas would have to be burned off. This too involves a high loss for OSTCHEM.

Of late, such failures occurred frequently. It was high time to initiate improvements that enabled greater reliability of the compressors. The Service Team of HOERBIGER recognized this and developed the REE Audit, a new consulting approach for operational challenges such as those encountered by OSTCHEM.

REE denotes Reliability, Efficiency and Environmental Soundness - three decisive aspects for a modern range of services in compression technology. In new compressor construction, state-of-the-art components are intended to guarantee continuous performance increases, increasing reliability, and steady progress in environmental compatibility.

Since the launch of the REE Audit initiative in October 2012, the HOERBIGER team has conducted more than 30 analyses around the globe and audited 160 compressors. The idea originated from a customer in India. He explained that the operators of compressors frequently have no idea of the improvement potential of their machines. This prompted HOERBIGER to develop a system that would provide the customer with a transparent analysis of the existing systems and processes as well as clearly defined improvement potentials: the HOERBIGER REE audit consultation.

The REE Auditor from HOERBIGER found high wear on OSTCHEM's Creusot Loire compressors as a result of a bent piston rod. Improvements in the lubrication were another starting point. The guides of the pistons in the cylinder at OSTCHEM had been soldered on with Babbitt metal, causing the guides to wear very rapidly. In addition, the increased abrasion adversely impacted valves and packings. The audit identified a modern solution with low-wear plastic rings. In the process, an important added benefit was achieved: the cylinder lubrication was able to be reduced, which will positively affect the service life of the catalyst in the reactor due to minimized impurities.


While the majority of operators of reciprocating compressors are satisfied with the performance capability of their systems, they still feel that things could somehow be even better. HOERBIGER has developed the REE Audit to substantiate this feeling with data and identify concrete improvement options. The HOERBIGER REE Audit quickly, accurately and objectively provides a valid basis for effectively upgrading existing compressor systems.

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Ammonia is a key base material for the production of nitrate-based fertilizers. High raw material prices, such as for energy obtained from natural gas that is required, have led to fierce global competition in the fertilizer industry. The sector is dependent on continual improvements in efficiency, reliability and environmental sustainability of existing plants and compressors. OSTCHEM is a leading manufacturer of fertilizers in Eastern Europe, and four production sites in Cherkassy, Gorlovka, Sievierodonetsk and Rivne make it a market leader in the Ukraine.


OSTCHEM has been a customer of HOERBIGER for close to ten years and uses a wide range of compressor components such as valves, rings and packings. Because of steadily rising competitive pressure, the company expanded the partnership with HOERBIGER by having a REE Audit conducted. The improvement potentials identified in the REE Audit as well as the promptly conducted upgrade projects have reduced downtimes by 70 percent, increasing reliability. Additionally, the efficiency of the plant was able to be increased due to the process analysis.