IOC in overseas talks over LPG production technology

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Bhubaneswar, Jan 20 (IANS) From being purely an oil refiner-cum-marketer, Indian Oil Corporation is turning into a technology licensor to other refineries to produce higher levels of LPG while mulling a mega refinery-cum-petrochemical project in Maharashtra in a four-way joint venture, said a senior official.

“We are in talks with several oil companies to license our INDMAX technology that enables production of higher volume of LPG (liquefied petroleum gas/cooking gas) given the same level of feedstock,” Indian Oil Corporation’s director (refineries) Sanjiv Singh said here late Tuesday.

Singh was speaking to a group of journalists visiting the company’s 15 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) refinery at Paradip, around 140 km from here, created at an outlay of Rs.34,555 crore.

Named as INDMAX, the technology was developed by a group of young technologists in IOC and it enables production of higher volume (44 percent) of LPG.

At Paradip refinery, a 4.17 million tonnes per annum (mmtpa) plant has been set up.

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“The systems have been checked and the plant is performing as per its design standards,” Singh said.

He said IOC will join hands with the US based company Lummus that brings the engineering expertise.

“There is no joint venture with Lummus. We will license our technology under our brand name,” Singh said.

The INDMAX technology enables getting high yield of light olefins and high octane gasoline from various petroleum fractions.

The technology has been demonstrated by setting up a unit of 100,000 MTPA capacity at IOC’s Guwahati refinery in 2003.

Queried about the plans to set up a mega refinery on the west coast joining hands with Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum, the IOC director told IANS: “Engineers India Ltd. is also keen to join as a partner. The project will be implemented as a joint venture as the huge investment needed will be pooled together by all the companies.”

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He said Maharashtra has been short listed to house the project wherefrom the southern markets will be served.

“Our imported crude comes to the west coast and hence a refinery there will save on logistics cost,” he said.

While he declined to specify the capacity of the proposed project, Singh said it will be the biggest in the country.

“We have done some technical studies on the crude to the imported for the proposed refinery, the project configuration and others. The proposed project would also include a petrochemical complex,” Singh added.

Agreeing that there is surplus capacity in the western region, Singh said some amount of motor spirit is imported to cater to the southern market.

In order to increase revenue from value added products, IOC is planning to set up a 700,000 TPA polypropylene plant based on propylene at Paradip refinery at an outlay of Rs.3,150 crore. The plant is expected to go on stream during 2017-18.

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The other investment plans for IOC at Paradip complex include an ethylene recovery unit/mono-ethylene glycol at Rs.3,800 crore to be completed by 2020-21.

The IOC is also evaluating the options of setting-up manufacturing facilities for para-xylene, purified terephthalic acid (PTA) and synthetic ethanol at Paradip, Singh said.

Asked about the Paradip refinary’s pay back period, Singh said the company is expecting an internal rate of return of 13 percent.

He said the most modern refinery can refine all kinds of crude oil and has the capacity to give more than 80 percent distillates.

Singh said the Paradip refinery will be dedicated to the nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 7, 2016.

(Venkatachari Jagannathan was in Paradip at the invitation of the Indian Oil Corporation. He can be reached at [email protected])

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