Essar's refinery ready for operation by June next year

Vol 9, PW 4 (01 Jun 05) Midstream & Downstream

Essar Oil is going full speed ahead with construction work at its long-awaited 12m t/y refinery at Vadinar in Gujarat, located opposite Reliances 33m t/y refinery at Jamnagar.

More than 70% of the work is complete, reveals a source. At the current pace of construction it will be ready in the first half of next year.

Three critical pieces of refinery equipment have been erected at the site over the last five weeks. On 28th April, construction teams raised and commissioned a cylindrical vessel weighing 223 tonnes, 24.6 metres tall and with a diameter of 10.4 metres.

This equipment, known as the pre-flash vessel, is used to separate the lighter components from the crude before it is pumped to the crude distillation column unit. On 5th May, Essar teams raised and installed the crude distillation column.

This is the tallest single crude distillation column in the world, we are told. It weighs 676 tonnes, is 97.4 metres tall and has a diameter of 7.5 metres at the top and 8.5 metres at the bottom.

Then comes the vacuum distillation unit, which was put up on 12th May. These are the three main pieces of equipments at the refinery, he adds.

They were lying (packed in crates) at the site for the past four years. Essar expects the refinery to start operations sometime in June 2006.

In the first phase well start with 3m t/y throughput. This will be gradually increased to full capacity by the end of 2006.

Essars refinery was conceived in 1992-93 when land and machinery were purchased and construction began. Work stopped in 1999 after a cyclone in the region.

Corporate rivalry with Reliance and Essars own troubles with financial institutions ensured that the project remained shelved till a year ago. Work resumed after financial institutions approved a debt-restructuring package for the Essar group.