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India strives to meet growing petchems deficit, says government official

November 26, 2018
Energy & Chemical Value Chain

Demand for petrochemicals in India is expected to double to about 40 million metric tons/year (MMt/y) in the next decade, according to Raghavendra Rao, secretary at the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals at the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers in the Government of India. Rao was speaking to Chemical Week on Monday on the sidelines of the GPCA Forum currently under way in Dubai. The country is addressing the looming shortages through several investments, which should add 25 MMt/y of petchems capacity.

The biggest investment by far is the $44-billion Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemicals project planned in a 50-50 joint venture between three Indian oil companies and two foreign investors, Saudi Aramco and Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., which will supply the crude oil to the refinery. Rao has outlined the tentative configuration of the project. The refinery will be designed to process 60 MMt/y of crude oil and will be slightly smaller than the one owned by Reliance Industries at Jamnagar.

Downstream capacity at Ratnagiri will include 4.85 MMt/y of polyethylene (PE), including high-density, linear low-density, and low-density PE, and 3.1 MMt/y of polypropylene. Other downstream units will include 2.05 MMt/y of ethylene glycol, 1.2 MMt/y of polyvinyl chloride, 430,000 metric tons/year of phenol, 1.08 MMt/y of styrene, and 390,000 metric tons/year of oxo alcohols.

Rao says a detailed study is being conducted by Jacobs Engineering and is due for completion in early December. Final recommendations will be submitted by Jacobs by March 2019. He says there are several issues yet to be resolved, including the acquisition of land. “The space required for the refinery and petrochemical project is huge, more than 15,000 acres,” he says. Ratnagiri in the state of Maharashtra was selected because of access to deep water where vessels can dock. The choice was between Maharashtra and Gujarat, with easy access to feedstock imported from the Middle East. Gujarat already has a large proportion of India’s chemicals production.

Ratnagiri will be the largest petchems complex ever to be built in a single phase. It will be financed 50-50 by equity and loans. The equity will be shared equally by the Indian consortium—which includes Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum, and Hindustan Petroleum—and the foreign partners.

Of the resident block, Indian Oil will take 50% and the rest will be shared by Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum. The final investment decision is due end of 2020 and the earliest onstream date would be around 2025, Rao says, adding that 30% of total refining capacity would be devoted to petrochemicals.

There are several other petchem projects under construction or in the planning phases in India, Rao says. At Bhatinda, HMEL is building a petchems complex with a total capacity of 1.7 MMt/y, and Hindustan Petroleum is building a complex at Barmer, Rajasthan, with a capacity of 1.9 MMt/y. Indian Oil plans to add 1.7 MMt/y capacity at Paradip, Panipat, and Barauni as well as in Gujarat. The Gail and Hindustan Petroleum joint venture is developing a petchems complex at Kakinada with a total capacity of 1.7 MMt/y, and Bharat Petroleum is planning to add 700,000 metric tons/year capacity at Mumbai and Kochi. Rao estimates all these investments, including Ratnagiri, will add up to around 25 MMt/y of petchems capacity and meet some of the country’s growing demand.

By Natasha Alperowicz

Source: Chemical Week

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