PARADIP: India’s 9 million metric tonne per annum LPG production is set to receive a shot in the arm, courtesy the soon to be inaugurated Indian Oil Corp’s Paradip refinery complex and its state-of-the-art INDMAX LPG production unit. The Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC) facility of the complex will be churning out over one million tonne of the perennially short commodity once it starts running at maximum capacity.
According to senior IOC officials, the addition of over 11% to India’s domestic production is going to have a significant impact on the overall LPG supply in the country and the Central government’s ambitious plans to increase its penetration in the rural market.
“The government’s plans to increase penetration of LPG in North Eastern India especially, is going to receive a significant boost,” pointed out Sanjiv Singh, Director - Refineries, IOCL.
Estimates of India’s total availability of the essential petroleum product for the financial year 2015-16 is just over 18 million metric tonne per annum (mmtpa). 8.9 mmt of which is set to be imported. The new FCC plant, one of the crucial cogs in the Rs 34,555 crore refinery, will be adding more than 1 million tonne to that figure.
The unit itself is designed to use what is left over from the crude oil feedstock after the production of diesel and petrol and use it to produce both LPG and Propylene. “We can adjust the percentage of the product mix as per demand and we are planning a Polypropylene unit in the complex too. This will also use propylene produced by the FCC unit as feed and so once it gets commissioned, the percentage of LPG in the product mix will go down,” confessed Singh.
The reduction however, once the PP plant gets operational, will still see the INDMAX unit churn out 700,000 mmtpa of LPG - around 7% of India’s current LPG production.
LPG produced at the Paradip complex will be fed to both the North East region and the South through pipelines - one from Paradip to Durgapur and another from Paradip to Hyderabad. The pipeline to Hyderabad will see work begin on it soon.
But the INDMAX unit itself is a huge step forward for Indian Petroleum production R&D. IOCL’s R&D department holds the proprietary technology for the unit and at a feed-to-LPG conversion percentage of 44%, the unit has performance figures nearly double that of the global average of 21-22%.
IOCL is in talks with players both domestic and abroad to license out the technology, becoming a technology provider from a production and marketing company.
The Paradip refinery complex, of which the FCC unit is only a part, is as significant. Set to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 7, the main refinery has a capacity of 15 mmtpa of oil products and will finally become operational nearly 15 years after its foundation stone was laid by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002. The refinery will be the single largest capacity unit for Indian Oil and the complex surrounding it will see several secondary facilities - including the FCC unit, the Polypropylene plant and a planned Mono Ethyl Glycol(MEG) unit. The polypropylene plant is set to see an investment of Rs 3,150 crore and the MEG plant - Rs 3,800 crore.
Once production begins, the Paradip refinery will make IOC as India’s largest refiner - taking up its total capacity to 80.7 mmtpa from 65.7 mmtpa currently. Comparatively, Reliance Industries Limited, which has the country’s largest refinery in Jamnagar Gujarat (33 mmtpa), has a total refining capacity of 60 mmtpa.