MRPL has big ambitions for the petrochemicals sector

Vol 11, PW 18 (24 Jan 08) Midstream & Downstream

ONGC refining subsidiary MRPL has high hopes of making it big in the country’s petrochemicals sector.

“We see petrochemicals as a means to add significant value to our future product portfolio,â€‌ MRPL director finance Lalit Kumar Gupta tells this report. “We are trying for long-term sales contracts for both paraxylene and benzene.

â€‌ In March this year MRPL, which accounts for 8% of refining capacity in India with its 12m t/y refinery in Mangalore, begins site grading work at its Rs5000cr petrochemicals project site that will eventually help the company produce 900,000 t/y of paraxylene and 270,000 t/y benzene from the significant quantities of heavy naphtha expected when refining capacity is raised to 15m t/y. Reliance is presently India’s biggest domestic paraxylene producer, producing 1.4m t/y, which will go up to more than 4m t/y when the new refinery at Jamnagar begins operations next year.

State-owned Indian Oil produces 400,000 t/y paraxylene, the next largest quantity in India after Reliance. MRPL’s new focus on petrochemicals runs alongside plans to enhance the capacity of its 12m t/y refinery to 15m t/y.

Work on the Rs8000cr expansion project also begins in March when MRPL will add a coker, a diesel hydrotreater, a coker heavy gas oil treater and a fluidised catalytic cracker. “The coker will help us process any dirty crude,â€‌ adds Gupta.

MRPL can now refine crude of up to 30 degrees API but with the new coker it will be able to process crude of up to 18 degrees API, “the same as Reliance’s new refinery.â€‌ Moreover, the FCC will enable MRPL to use its surplus vacuum gas oil – now sold in the domestic market or exported – to produce propylene, a raw material for plastics and other value added products.

“At 450,000 t/y, we’ll be the second biggest domestic propylene producer (after Reliance),â€‌ said Gupta. MRPL wants to further process this propylene and last month commissioned Engineers India to prepare a detailed feasibility report for a polypropylene factory, expected by April or May this year.