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OKOS LLC is 25 years old

Esteemed colleagues and dear friends,
on April 15, 2018, Ogneuporkoksservis LLC (OKOS LLC) celebrates its 25-th anniversary!

Our company is the age-mate of the modern-day Russia.

We started as a subsidiary of "Koksokhimmontazh Trust", a company awarded with the Order of the Red Banner of Labour and the October Revolution Order, which enjoyed a 63-year long background, intimately associated with the history of our State in the twentieth century.

We began running our activities on the basis of those customs, practices, bulk of knowledge and the experience in construction of the coke and by-product facilities industry, that "Koksokhimmontazh Trust" had acquired and owned.

The late XX century was the time of the disintegration of the USSR, and the creation of a new Russia. To be fit for the time and meet the market requirements, it was necessary to handle and solve new and new problems.

A long distance has been covered in these 25 years, and certain milestones have been reached.

Our company is not only a leading player in Russia, but is also well-known abroad in such countries as Algeria, Egypt, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Poland, Czech Republic, India, China, Kazakhstan and some others.

A company primarily means the personnel and their daily teamwork.

I therefore extend my sincere greetings in the first place to all of us, to our collective, with this silver jubilee!

May I wish you happiness, good health, prosperity and advancement of your professional skills!

The idea of setting up an engineering firm that would unite the efforts and interests of coking industry refractory plants, design institutes and Koksokhimmontazh Trust sprung up back in 1992 as the result of a collapse of the previously existing in this country system of organizing the technical re-equipping of coke production facilities. The purpose of creating the company was to integrate economic interests, material, labour and financial resources of its shareholders to enhance the scientific and technological progress in refurbishment of the coke ovens pool of the Coke and By-product industry, increasing reliability and operational durability of coke oven batteries.

In the conditions of emerging ‘free market’ relations in Russia, OKOS has made its first steps, i.e. carried out a complete supply of refractory materials for re-bricking of coke oven batteries No.1 & 2 of the Karaganda Iron & Steel Works (currently, “ArcelorMittal Temirtau”), of CO battery No.2 of the Gubakha Coke & By-product Plant (CJSC Stroyservice), CO battery No.5 of the Novolipetsk Iron and Steel Works. We have also fulfilled export supply of refractories for the repairs of Coke Oven battery No.1 of the El-Hajar Steel Works (Algeria) and for refurbishment of the coke oven battery No.1 of the Al-Nasr Company for Coke and Chemicals at Helwan (Egypt).

Initially, the management team comprised only few persons: V. Korchagin, L. Gurova, L. Kovalenko and T.Kurkotova. Besides them, employees of the Koksohimontazh Trust worked part-time, as follows: Ye.Lebedeva, A. Vorobyov, T. Polyushkina, additionally to the few experts from Design institutes and Refractory Plants. Gradually, OKOS own staff team was formed. During the period of 1994 to 1999, O.Didenko, A. Samarina, F. Sivan, N. Chemarda and T. Korchagina joined the company and later on, I.Gumen, A. Shmeliov and M. Fadeyeva, who currently are the core staff of the OKOS directorate.

The Directorate is actively engaged in tackling technical issues: unification of refractories (of silica and fireclay grades) for the brick-laying of coke oven batteries, introduction of refractories’ packaging in line with the German DIN standard; developing, jointly with the St. Petersburg Institute of Refractories, new specifications for the silica and fireclay masonry items and mortars, and engaging in other actions aimed at improving quality of refractories, extending operational life of CO batteries and ensuring uninterrupted supply of refractory items during the bricklaying work at coke ovens, pitch coke batteries, coke dry cooling plants and other types of units. Production of new types of refractory products is being mastered, such as perlite diatomate bricks, perlite cement products and mortars for bricklaying work for coke ovens instead of sovelitic, silica-fibrous, asbestos materials, etc. The experience gained as well as the good teamwork of the management staff allowed the company to reach a higher level of business operations.

On April 10, 1996, OKOS LLC concludes a General Contract with OJSC Zapsib Iron & Steel Works for the design and construction works for coke oven batteries No. 1 and 2, with a capacity of 820,000 tons of coke per annum each, using the existing foundations of these shut down batteries. The contract covered execution of the design, civil works, supply of refractories and auxiliary materials, fabrication of steel structures and piping units and the construction and installation works. Zapsib Iron & Steel Works planned to place the order for the supply of equipment and coke machines in Germany, based on the funds loaned from the KFW German Development Bank.

The OKOS Directorate, jointly with V. Agarkov, the then Deputy Head (Reconstruction) of the Coke and By-product Plants, and other specialists of the Works has done a huge volume of work to develop the required documentation and conduct its justification in the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Finance, the VneshEconomBank, the Ministry of Defense, the State Expert Review Panel of the Russian Federation and other State agencies. Unfortunately, Zapsib failed to procure the loan, which caused the construction process to extend for the long period of nine years.

Nine years lasted the refurbishment process of that one coke battery. However, what kind of time were these years? No steady financing, barter deals relating to the design work and supply of refractories, sales of factory-made products, bankruptcy of the Works, appointment of external administration, struggle of the financial-cum industrial groups for getting ownership of the Iron & Steel Works, and the financial crisis of 1998.

Eventually, after the Evraz Holding group took over the Plant, improvement relating to the reconstruction of the CO battery No.1 began to take place. The barter settlements were gone, the payments were now effected with “real money" and in December 2005, the CO battery No.1 was successfully commissioned. For organizing the design, development and successful implementation of the reconstruction projects of the coke oven battery No.1 and the associated facilities, our company was awarded with the Certificate of Honour of the Kemerovo Region administration.

The continuing decline in industrial production, including that of the ferrous metallurgy, as well as the minimal funding by the Steel Plants’ owners of the measures to maintain Coke and By-product plants in operational condition and their upgrading, the lack of an industry development strategy forced the production managers to look for new ways to extend operational life of the current running coke oven batteries.

As one of the priority areas of its activities for the period of 2000-2010, OKOS makes carrying out the "hot" and "cold" repairs of coke ovens brickwork. Basing upon the previous experience of Russian and foreign companies in this specific area, OKOS develops engineering technique for the "hot" and "cold" repairs of coke ovens brickwork, as well as for preventive repairs and maintenance.

In 1999-2000 at the Bhilai and Visakhapatnam Steel Plants in India, and at the Nova Gut Steel Works of Czech Republic, we started carrying out hot repairs of heating walls of the 7-meter high coke ovens to a depth of 4 - 6 vertical flues as well as a complete re-bricking of some heating walls. At the Bhilai Steel Plant, that was the method used to repair CO battery No.9 with the coking chambers 7-m high. At the Vizag Steel Plant, work was fulfilled for all their three 7-meter high coke oven batteries. Batteries 1 and 3 had all their coke ovens repaired by method of "hot" re-bricking of the heating walls to a depth of 4 - 8 verticals, and few individual walls were fully re-bricked.

Within 9 months of work CO battery No.2 was re-bricked by a "cold" method from the gas gun zone and 11 months later (since the shutdown) it was re-commissioned. During the five years of running the repairs project, OKOS has restored all the coke ovens at the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, production yield of coke was brought up to the design volume, for which our company was granted a letter of acknowledgment from the Indian Ministry of Steel and an official positive reference note from the Vizag Steel management.

The first contracts for repairing coke oven batteries in India were concluded through the V/O“Tyazhpromexport” while those in the Czech Republic, through the Czech firm “Famo-Service”. After creating OKOS own department for foreign economic relations, we began developing our own experience in participating in international tenders and entering into direct contracts with customers. One of the challenges we face in the market of foreign economic operations is arranging bank guarantees. Besides, a typical condition for a repair job contract is the warranty performance period of a CO battery, which depends on the type of repairs and normally has a term of 5 to 10 years. Such conditions put a special responsibility on the contractor for the quality of work execution and the stipulated terms. Naturally, that the ability of winning tenders/biddings and carrying out such work may only belong to a company that has an intellectual potential coupled with a sufficient number of highly qualified personnel.

OKOS continues a successful tapping into the markets of India, Egypt, the Czech Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China and some other countries.

The scope of completed works involving hot repairs of brickwork of various types of coke oven batteries with chambers height from 4.3 m to 7 m is amounting to the following:

- 363 heating walls re-bricked to a depth of 4 to 8 vertical flues;

- 198 heating walls completely re-bricked (along their full wall length).

Technical assistance job was completed for supervision of construction (retrofitting) of seven coke oven batteries of the top charging and stamping type.

Two coke oven batteries were recovered and recommissioned (after a long-term cold storage).

Preheating operation was accomplished for nine coke oven batteries using coke oven gas, natural gas and LPG (propane-butane mixture).

Technical assistance in production operation on twenty CO batteries was carried out by us.

Our jobs in China during 2003-2013 have played a special (I would say, a stabilizing) part for us. During those years, there was no work for us in Russia. The word ‘crisis’ (weiji) in Chinese language is made up of two hieroglyphs – ‘a danger’ and ‘a favourable opportunity’. The Chinese ferrous metallurgy took a favorable opportunity to restructure the industry, one of the main objectives of which was the upgrading of outdated coke and by-products plants and the construction of new ones. Since year 2003, our company has completed hot repairs at the following Chinese plants in the cities of:

  • Jiuquan - coke oven batteries No.1 & 2 – 2003 to 2008;

  • Xiangtan - coke oven batteries No.1 & 2 – 2006 to 2009;

  • Handan - coke oven batteries No.2, 3 & 4 – 2007 to 2011;

  • Hangzhou - coke oven battery No.2 – 2008 to 2010;

  • Tangshan - coke oven batteries No.1 & 2 – 2009 to 2012;

  • Sanming - coke oven battery No.1 – 2010 to 2011;

  • Xuanhua - coke oven batteries No.1, 2 – 2012 to 2013;

  • Fengfeng - coke oven batteries No.1 & 2 - 2013 to 2014,

whereas a total of 108 heating walls were completely rebricked, 220 heating walls rebricked to a depth of 4 to 8 vertical flues and 14 heating walls, to a depth of 10 to 14 verticals.

The successful cooperation between OKOS and Visakhapatnam Steel Plant at its first work phase (1999 to 2004) and the technical assistance rendered to the Plant during the second phase (2008 to 2010) have resulted in securing a long-term contract (for 53 months), which involved a complete re-bricking of the coke ovens’ No.1 and 3 heating walls, which were missed out during the initial project phases. In 2015, this job has been successfully accomplished.

In year 2016, OKOS carried out a preheating of coke oven battery No.1 of the stamp charging type at Bhushan Power Steel Ltd. (project of Paul Wurth). The preheating was done through oven doors using LPG (propane-butane gas mixture).

During 2017, we took part in hot repairs job at CO batteries of two Steel Plants of ArcelorMittal South Africa in the cities of Newcastle and Vanderbijlpark in that country.

The staffing policy of OKOS relating to line crew personnel is based on the maximum involvement of specialists who used to work at coke and by-product plants having higher technical education and extensive operational work experience, who are now retired (aged 50-55), but who are still capable of effective working for another 10-15 years.

Over the past years, we created a flexible and mobile team of chief specialists/managers (project team heads), mid-level specialists (shift incharges, gas crew leaders) and supervisors (refractory bricklayers of skill grades 5 and 6) who ensure monitoring and supervision over construction and start-up works, "hot" and "cold" type of repair jobs. I especially want to mention and thank the following persons for their excellent and dedicated work: A. A. Vinnikov, V. F. Bogdanov, A. M. Pos, V. A. Kurmayev, A. A. Levchenko, L.S.Roizen, V. P. Petryakov, S. N. Chebykin, Yu. P. Murashov, V. P. Loshchilov, S. V. Zhilnikov, A.N.Terentyev, I. V. Ronzhin, N. V. Grechkа, A. M. Leishovnik, N. V. Berdnikov, V. A. Kurnosenkov, S.Yu.Ermil, A. V. Klimenko, V. V. Kogut.

The following Directorate staff members have made their own considerable contribution to the formation and further development of OKOS LLC: N. A. Chemarda, O. A. Didenko, L. S. Gurova, T. I. Korchagina, L.E.Kovalenko, I. A. Gumen, F. A. Sivan, A. N. Shmeliov, M. Yu. Fadeyeva, D. Singh, R. G. Gataullin, E.A.Maslova.

The professionalism of the OKOS employees has long been known not only in Russia but abroad as well: in European countries, Algeria, India, China, South Africa and some other states.

Various Russian Governmental awards were granted to the following experts for their long-term and dedicated work in the company:

V. Korchagin

- the title of "Honourary construction worker of Russia" (2009)

- the title of "Honourary Installation Fitter" (2009)

N. Chemarda

- the title of "Honourary Metallurgist" (2011)

- a badge of "Honourary construction worker of Russia" (2011)

V. Bogdanov

- Certificate of Honour of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation (2011);

- a badge of "Honorary construction worker of Russia" (2011)

V. Petryakov

- Certificate of Honour of the Russian Federation Ministry of Industry and Trade (2012)

S. Zhilnikov

- the title of "Honorary Metallurgist" (in 2013)

A. Pos

- Certificate of Honour of the Russian Federation Ministry of Industry and Trade (2013)

M. Fadeyeva

- letter of acknowledgment of the Minister of Regional Development of the Russian Federation (2014)

V. Loshchilov

- Certificate of Honour of the Russian Federation Ministry of Industry and Trade (2014)

O. Didenko

- letter of acknowledgment of the Russian Federation Ministry of Industry and Trade (2015)

I. Gumen

- letter of acknowledgment of the Russian Federation Ministry of Industry and Trade (2015)

R. Gataullin

- letter of acknowledgment of the Russian Federation Ministry of Industry and Trade (2016)

Some of them also received the following awards of the All-Russian Inter-Industry Branch Association of employers titled the "Russian Union of Builders and Constructors":

• V. I. Korchagin – with the Order of Merit in Construction Industry;

• L. S. Roizen, V. F. Bogdanov, A. M. Pos, S. V. Zhilnikov and V. A. Kurmayev – with "Construction Glory" honourary badges;

• N. V. Grechkа, V. V. Kogut, A. M. Leishovnik, I. V. Ronzhin, A. N. Terentyev, I. A. Gumen, O. A. Didenko, M. Yu. Fadeyeva – with Certificates of Honour.

In addition, V. F. Bogdanov was awarded with the Certificates of Honour of the Liaoning Province Order of Honour for his considerable contribution to the economic and social development of Liaoning Province (China, 2010).

Over the past years, we have covered a certain distance in our development path, without losing the positions we had gained and obtaining increasingly more of new business partners, comrades and friends.

OKOS pays homage to our customers who have relied on us and entrusted us with the implementation of critical projects involving construction and refurbishment of their coke and by-product plants:

• in Russia – to Zapsib Iron & Steel Works, Novolipetsk Iron and Steel Works , Severstal, the Urals Steel, Kemerovo, Altai and Moscow Coke and By-product Plants;

• in Kazakhstan – to the Karaganda Iron & Steel Works;

• in India – to Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, Bhilai Steel Plant, Konark Met Coke Ltd., Bhushan Steel Plants, Jindal Works;

• in China – to Zhong Hong Xin and HuaСhen companies and the Iron and Steel Department of the Liaoning Province;

• individually to “ArcelorMittal Steel”, Al-Nasr Company for Coke and Chemicals at Helwan and many others.

We are proud of our company’s credit and goodwill, we value highly the trust our partners have for us and strongly hope for a further fruitful and mutually beneficial collaboration.

Our company’s primary focus is on rendering high-quality engineering services in construction, repairs and operation of coke and by-product plants to all customers.

We are striving to develop our company through a continuous improvement and enhancement along the following lines:

• Satisfaction of Customers’ requirements and expectations;

• Introduction of advanced technologies and practices in the scope of our firm activities;

• Ensuring high quality of work performed by qualified personnel;

• Continuous professional development of our personnel and promoting their creative activity;

• Expansion of mutually beneficial relations with our partners.

In 2004, OKOS has developed and implemented the quality management system for compliance with the ISO 9001 international standard, certification body TÜV Thüringen e.V., and arranges its annual appraisals for compliance.

We have initiated and hosted the Annual All-Russian Coke-and-By-Product Industry conferences, in which usually participate directors, top managers and leading experts of Coking/By-Product Plants and shops, of design institutes and engineering companies not only from around Russia, but also from the Ukraine, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, Serbia, India, China and some other countries.

Our motto is: You place challenges for us – we meet them!