BPCL’s Kochi plant operating at full capacity

BPCL’s Kochi plant operating at full capacity

New Delhi: Bharat Petroleum Corp’s Kochi oil refinery in southern India is operating at its increased capacity of 190,000 barrels per day, but output of higher grade petrol and diesel from the refinery will be delayed, a senior company official said on Friday.

“We completed the expansion on 5 August. We are now running at a rate of 9.5 million tonnes a year," Kochi refinery’s executive director E. Nandakumar said.

BPCL raised the capacity of one of the crude units at its southern India-based Kochi plant to 100,000 bpd from 60,000 bpd, with the expansion delayed one month from the original plan.

Nandakumar said his firm hopes to complete key units -- a continuous catalytic cracker (CCR) and vacuum gas oil (VGO) hydrotreater -- to produce Euro IV compliant auto fuel by February 2010, pushed back from the earlier planned January.

The firm would install a 0.85 million tonne a year CCR to upgrade the specification of gasoline by replacing naphtha and about a 1.8 million tonnes a year VGO hydrotreater to produce diesel.

“We originally wanted to commission the units by September 2009 then shifted it to January and now it looks like it will be done by February because of basic engineering delays," he said.

He said any unit takes six to eight weeks to stabilise after commissioning. “And if everything goes well we will be able to produce Euro IV fuel from April," he added.

India plans to introduce Euro IV compliant fuel in some states from April next year, while the rest of the country will switch over to Euro III compliant fuel.

Once the two units are fully operational Kochi refinery would almost double its annual gasoline output to 1.3 million tonnes while its naphtha output would fall nearly 57% to 300,000 tonnes.

Nandakumar said after the new units become operational about 250,000 tonnes of reformate would be supplied from Kochi refinery to BPCL’s 240,000 bpd Mumbai refinery for processing. “I can even export reformate, if need be," he said.

Asked if the hook up of new units require a shutdown, he said, “There is no shutdown for the next two years, that we will do online."

Besides its Mumbai and Kochi refineries, BPCL runs a 60,000-bpd plant in northeast India through a subsidiary, Numaligarh Refinery Ltd. It is also setting up a new 120,000 bpd refinery at Bina in central India, slated to be ready by end-2009.