PKN Orlen Petrochemicals Plant, Poland

Polski Koncern Naftowy Orlen (PKN) is one of the largest refiners and distributors of oil in Poland; it is Central Europe's largest company with sales of $20bn a year. The company was formed in 1999 by the merger of two former state monopolies. The first was Petrochemia Plock, which is Poland's largest refinery, and the other was Centrala Produktow Naftowych, which is one of Poland's largest petroleum distributors.

The merged company has a total of seven refineries (including three in the Czech Republic and one in Lithuania) and has in excess of 12,700 retail sites, in the Czech Republic, Germany (500 filling stations), Lithuania and Poland. PKN also owns a 75% stake in chemical maker Anwil and in conjunction with Bassel of Switzerland owns the largest plastic manufacturing company in Poland.

The company also has holdings in several other Polish companies, and controls Czech refiner and retailer Unipetrol.


In July 2007 Technip of France was awarded a €160m contract for the construction of a new paraxylene complex on the site of the Plock refinery and petrochemicals complex in Poland. The project will be carried out based from the operations and engineering centre in Rome.

The scope of the contract includes engineering, procurement and supply of equipment and materials, and technical assistance for activities at the site. The contract also includes construction, pre-commissioning and commissioning.

The new production units will use UOP technology, supplied by UOP LLC – a subsidiary of Honeywell – and will be capable of a production capacity of 400,000t per year. The auxiliary systems are being developed by Technip.

The project started construction in the late summer of 2007 and is scheduled for completion by December 2009. The contract will included services, materials and equipment being supplied on a lump sum basis but other activities on site are being charged on a cost and fee basis. Technip is already undertaking the construction of a diesel hydrodesulphurisation unit and a hydrogen plant at the refinery; the hydrogen unit contract is worth €50m.

Paraxylene is an aromatic, which is used in a wide range of raw material manufacturing including the fabrication of polyesters for fibres, films and resins and also solvents, lubricants and agricultural products. Paraxylene is also a key ingredient in the production of PTA (purified terephthalic acid), which is used to make PET (polyethylene terephthalate) chips for carbonated soft drink and water bottles.


The technology to produce paraxylenes will include a single-train adsorption unit, which will use the Parex process for separation. In addition, there will be a CCR Platforming unit to convert naphtha to aromatics and hydrogen and also an Isomar unit to convert other xylene isomers to paraxylene.

"PKN Orlen is Central Europe's largest company with sales of $20bn a year."

There will also be a Tatoray unit to produce xylenes. The Tatoray process is used to selectively convert toluene, C9 aromatics and C10 aromatics into the more valuable benzene and xylenes.

This can double the yield of paraxylene from naphtha feedstock.

The Parex process is an adsorptive separation method for the recovery of paraxylene from a mixture of xylenes, that can give high product purity and recovery.

Xylenes and similar aromatics cannot be easily separated using distillation as their boiling points are so close together. Therefore, they are separated using a solid zeolite-based adsorbent using a simulated moving bed counter current flow of liquid arrangement. The solid adsorbent can recover 97% by weight of the paraxylene from the incoming stream with product purity of 99.9%.