A proposal of Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited (CPCL) to replace the over four-decade-old crude oil pipeline from Chennai port to its refinery in Manali, a northern outskirt of the city, is gathering momentum.
The new, bigger pipeline will offer multiple benefits, including a cost benefit of Rs.15-20 crore annually. Mooted more than ten years ago, the proposal to replace the 30-inch pipeline with a 42-inch facility is awaiting CRZ (coastal regulation zone) clearance.
Describing it as one of the important projects for the refinery, CPCL Managing Director A. S. Basu says in view of the age and size of the existing pipeline, the discharge rate is slow, and, as a result, the company incurs more demurrage charges.
The pipeline, according to Director (Technical) T. S. Ramachandran, was laid when the refinery capacity was 2.5 million tonnes. The capacity has since gone up to 10.5 million tonnes. Once the CRZ clearance is received, it will take 18 months to lay the new pipeline. Keen on implementing the project early, as the project cost has shot up from Rs.65 crore in 2005 to Rs.126 crore, CPCL has entrusted the job to the pipeline division of IOC and also invited bids from material suppliers.
“As part of the CRZ clearance process, a public hearing will be held in Chennai and Tiruvallur, two districts through which the 17 km pipeline would travel, by mid-September,” says General Manager (Corporate Planning) V. Srinivasan. The new pipeline, whose thickness would be more, is to be operated at a pressure of 10 kg/cm square and equipped with latest technology, including online monitoring of the operations.
The existing 7.5 km long pipeline is being operated at half that pressure. Much of the new pipeline would be underground, along the service lane of the upcoming Ennore Manali Road Improvement Project. Hence, there would be better accessibility to the pipeline for the company, which in the case of the existing facility is a challenge as habitations have come up along the route.