Vol 3, PW 2 (17 Feb 99) Midstream & Downstream

This isnt the first time Indian downstream companies have faced difficulties because of Oil Indias failure to guarantee crude supplies from Assam.

This month, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), formally commissions a 498-km crude oil pipeline from the West Bengal port of Haldia to its 3.3m t/y refinery at Barauni in northern Bihar. Until now, Barauni is wholly dependent on erratic supplies from nearby Assam, where overall production is falling.

"We havent been receiving enough crude from Assam and this means that Barauni has been working below capacity", IOC tells Petrowatch, "When crude starts flowing from Haldia we can immediately increase the capacity of Barauni from 3.3m t/y to its full capacity of 4.2m t/y". Crude for Barauni has traditionally come via a 1,156 km crude pipeline, beginning at Duliajan in Assam, passing by a 2.35m t/y refinery at Bongaigaon and a 1m t/y refinery at Guwahati.

The pipeline is a regular target of attack by terrorists from the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), causing major disruption in production. Luckily, the Barauni refinery - and by implication Bihar - no longer has to worry.

Future crude supplies to the refinery will be assured by imports from South East Asia which lands at Haldia. At present, the Haldia-Barauni pipeline is under commissioning, with hydrostatic and pressure testing underway before first crude is pumped through, sometime this month.

The new crude pipeline has a capacity to pump 4.5m t/y of crude and will pass through Howrah, Hooghly, Burdwan, Midnapore, Birbhum in West Bengal and Dumka in Bihar before reaching Barauni.