KOCHI: At a time when every completed piling of Kochi Metro hogs news headlines, away from the spotlight, the ambitious expansion by Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd’s Kochi (BPCL-Kochi) refinery – by far the single biggest investment by a company in Kerala by a mile – is chugging along at a fast clip with 60 per cent of the project over as of now.
For starters, Kochi Metro’s project cost is Rs 5,000 crore which pales in comparison to Rs 20,000 crore investment by BPCL-Kochi.
BPCL Kochi’s integrated refinery expansion project (IREP), which will see the refining capacity increasing by 60 per cent from the present 9.5 million tonnes per year to 15.5 million tonnes, will be completed as per schedule in December 2015, Prasad K Panicker, executive director, BPCL Kochi refinery told Express. Post IREP, diesel production from the refinery will double from 4 million tonnes to 8 million tonnes, petro (motor spirit) will go up from 1.3 million tonnes to 2 million tonnes and LPG capacity will go up from 0.5 million tonnes to 1.1 million tonnes.
Once completed the project would produce 0.5 million tonnes of propylene per year – a raw material for petrochemical units. This would help the units at the proposed 500-acre petrochemical complex-cum-park by the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) at Ambalamugal, close to the BPCL-Kochi refinery, Panicker said.
Other than aiding the Rs 3,000-crore petrochemical-cum-park by KSIDC, the propylene would also go into the units at the proposed park. Going by reports, some of the companies that have evinced interest in setting up units at the proposed park include Mumbai-based Deepak Petrochemicals, Chennai-based Kothari Petrochemicals, Hindustan Organic Chemicals and public sector Hindustan Organic Chemicals. IREP has provided employment (contract labourers) for 9,000-10,000 people and another 350-400 permanent employment opportunities at the refinery. Once the KSIDC park also comes up, there would be a socio-economic development of the entire area and job opportunities for a large number of people, both directly and indirectly around the area.
The Kochi refinery would also commence the production of a new product – petcoke – with a capacity of 1.3 million tonnes per year under the expansion project. Petcoke can be used as a fuel for cement plants, Panicker said. The cost of power generation using petcoke is comparable to coal and cheaper than naphtha and gas, he said.
Panicker said the proposed petcoke-based 500 MW capacity power plant in Kochi by the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) was in the works with a detailed feasibility report (DFR) expected from the KSEB in the near future. Earlier, both KSEB and BPCL carried out a joint study to prepare a preliminary feasibility report for the petcoke-based power plant.
Panicker said the company has received the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board nod for the LPG pipeline from Kochi to Palakkad (220 kms) and Coimbatore to Salem (100 km).
“We are now waiting for the environmental clearance,” he said. The Rs 1,000-crore LPG pipeline project would ensure better safety in the movement of the fuel, and move the traffic away from the road network, he said.