The Gazprom Neft Moscow refinery has begun construction of a cutting-edge biological treatment complex, Biosfera. The project was launched by Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment of the Russian Federation Sergei Donskoi, Mayor of Moscow Sergei Sobyanin, and Gazprom Neft CEO Alexander Dyukov.

The Biosfera complex will operate on the basis of new technology for final-stage water purification (unique to the Russian oil refining industry), which will ensure the removal of 99 percent of pollutants from the plants wastewater. This will ensure improvements in water quality to levels consistent with governmental standards for fishery waters. The use of a multi-stage biological purification system will result in water consumption at the plant being cut by a factor of 2.5, with 75 percent of water being returned to the plants production cycle.

Biosfera is expected to be brought into usage in 2017. Gazprom Nefts investment in this latest environmental initiative at the Moscow Refinery now stands at more than seven billion rubles.

The first stage of a modern wastewater treatment complex at the Moscow Refinery, built to replace outdated open lagoon biological oxidation facilities, was brought into usage in 2012. This allowed the plant to reduce environmental emissions produced in water treatment by 97 percent, as well as ensuring a six-fold reduction in oil-product-pollutants present in wastewater.

During their visit to the Moscow Refinery Mr Donskoi and Mr Sobyanin were given an insight into an automated air-quality monitoring system unique to Russias refining industry. This system allows all citizens, as well as the citys environmental watchdogs, to receive real-time information on air quality at the Moscow Refinery, and around it. The air-quality monitoring system is made up of a series of localised automated monitors, and makes possible the uninterrupted round-the-clock monitoring of the impact of the plants emissions on the open air. Data from these appliances is automatically transmitted, every 20 minutes, to the refinerys central control room, its environmental control department, and the MosEcoMonitoring Centre.

Gazprom Neft CEO Alexander Dyukov commented: As well as improving production to match the best international practice in energy efficiency and refining depth, we are also setting new industry standards in industrial and environmental safety. Automated environmental monitoring and biological purification systems such as those being introduced at the Moscow Refinery are taking Russian refining to a new level. Any refinery meeting such standards can be regarded as a genuine partner, making a major contribution to the further development of the area in which it is locate".

Moscow Refinery is currently undergoing the most extensive and thorough-going modernisation in its history, initiated following its acquisition by Gazprom Neft. Expected to run until 2020, the programme is directed at meeting European standards in both production and environmental safety, envisaging the replacement of outdated capacity and the commissioning of cutting-edge, environmentally friendly production facilities.

The Moscow Refinery currently meets approximately 40 percent of local demand for oil products in Moscow. The most significant outcome of completing the first stage of this programme  improving the quality of oil products  has been the plants complete transfer to the production of fuels of the highest ecological standard, Euro-5. In using Euro-5 fuels car engines emit five times less sulphur compounds in comparison with Euro-4 fuels. On which basis, environmental emissions from car traffic using the plants gasoline and diesel fuels has declined by a quarter, and the proportion of sulphur oxide and soot in the air around Moscow following the transfer of part of the car fleet to Euro-5 fuels has decreased by 32 percent.