Kochi crude oil refinery in Kerala, operated by fuel retailer Bharat Petroleum (BPCL), has completed its expansion project to become the largest public sector refinery in the country, surpassing the capacity of Paradip and Panipat refineries operated by the largest retailer Indian Oil Corporation (IOC).
BPCL completed the Rs 16,500 crore Integrated Refinery Expansion Project (IREP) at Kochi in October last year, ramping up the capacity of the unit to 15.5 million tonne (MT) from the earlier 12.4 MT. That compares with 15 MT capacity each of IOC’s Paradip refinery in Odisha and Panipat refinery in Haryana.
“We have successfully completed the expansion project which has made Kochi refinery the largest, public sector refinery in the country,” Prasad K Panicker, Executive Director at the refinery told source. “It has resulted in boosting our crude processing capabilities with a nelson index of 10.8. We can now process almost all kinds of crude. From January 2018, we expect Kochi refinery to process around 1.3 MT of crude,” he added.
The Kochi oil refinery processed 1.2 MT crude in December 2017 as compared to 1 MT processed in the corresponding month a year ago, data from the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC), an arm of the oil ministry, shows.
A BPCL executive, in a conference call post the company’s second quarter results, had said the full completion of the expansion project at Kochi refinery will increase the refinery’s Gross Refinery Margins (GRMs) by $2 per barrel and the company expects all the units to be working at full capacity by December 2017.
Panicker said that the company is currently working on a propylene derivative petrochemical project at a cost of Rs 5,426 crore which is expected to be completed in 2019. He added that BPCL had last week entered into a long-term agreement with US-based Air Products, supplier of liquefied natural gas process technology and equipment to build, own and operate a new syngas production facility at its Kochi refinery.
Even after the commissioning of the largest public sector refinery, the state-owned fuel retailer is far behind Mukesh-Ambani led Reliance Industries’ Jamnagar complex in Gujarat which hosts two refineries of 33 MT and 35.2 MT capacity each along with a petrochemical unit.
India had a total installed crude oil refining capacity of 247.6 MT at the end of December 2017 including 69.2 MT operated by IOC, 36.5 MT operated by BPCL and 27.1 MT operated by the third state-owned retailer Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL).