The complex will produce 8 lakh tonnes of ethylene and 6 lakh tonnes of propylene annually

Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Jaipal Reddy on Tuesday dedicated to the nation India's largest naphtha cracker plant at Indian Oil Corporation's (IOCs) Panipat Complex.

The complex has been commissioned in 46 months, which compares with the global standard for similar capacity plants and is ahead of average time taken in setting up similar units in India. With the completion of this petrochemicals complex, IOC has crossed a major milestone in realising its aspiration to emerge as an integrated and diversified company.

To cut imports

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Reddy said India needed to find more oil to cut its reliance on imports to meet demand.

India now imports 80 per cent of its oil needs. The cracker, that produces raw material for making plastic, went on-stream in March last year but it was formally inaugurated only on Tuesday.

Refining capacity

Petroleum Secretary S. Sundareshan said the nation's oil refining capacity would jump up to 240 million tonnes in the next two years from the current about 187 million tonnes.

Even the present refining capacity was in excess of 146 million tonnes of fuel demand, he said.

Listing the new plants, he said Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) would commission a six-million tonnes unit at Bina in Madhya Pradesh shortly, while Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (HPCL) is building a nine-million tonne unit at Bhatinda in Punjab. Also, IOC was constructing a 9-million tonne refinery at Paradip in Orissa.

Built adjacent to IOC's 15-million tonne a year Panipat refinery, the naphtha cracker along with PX-PTA units is the state-owned firm's big push into the petrochemical business.

The Rs.14,439-crore naphtha cracker complex will produce eight lakh tonnes annually of ethylene and six lakh tonnes of propylene — raw material for manufacturing polymers. Ethylene and polypropylene act as feed for downstream polymer units such as polypropylene, linear low density/high density polyethylene swing unit, high density polyethylene unit and mono ethylene glycol unit.

These polymer products are used for manufacturing moulded plastic containers/barrels, heavy duty films, stretch wrap films, shopping bags, automobile parts, pipes and sheets, moulded furniture, yarn and fibre and many other household and industrial items. The naphtha cracker will source feedstock naphtha from IOC's Koyali, Panipat and Mathura refineries.

IOC's Panipat refinery meets the demand of petroleum products not only in Haryana but also of the entire northwest region, including Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal, Chandigarh, Uttarakhand and parts of Rajasthan and Delhi.

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