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Work begins on strategic petroleum reserve in Mangalore

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launch: Officials of Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Ltd. inaugurating the drilling work for the underground rock cavern in Mangalore on Wednesday.
launch: Officials of Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Ltd. inaugurating the drilling work for the underground rock cavern in Mangalore on Wednesday.

Staff Correspondent

It will form part of the buffer stock to be used in times of national crisis

Two other storage reserves to come up at Padur in Udupi, Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh

They will together contain a buffer stock of

5 million tonnes of crude oil

MANGALORE: A small ceremony on Wednesday marked the commencement of work on the Mangalore chapter of Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Ltd. (ISPRL) — one of the most ambitious capacity building projects of the Oil Industry Development Board (OIDB) in recent times.

ISPRL is a special purpose vehicle of the OIDB, which is an autonomous body formed by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (Government of India).

The Mangalore reserve is one of the three strategic reserves of crude oil being planned in the country, the others being at Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) and in Padur (Udupi district, Karnataka).

Capacity

Once completed, the three projects will together contain a buffer stock of 5 million tonnes of crude, capable of sustaining the fuel needs of the country for 14 days.

Plus point

All the refineries in the country can presently sustain the country’s demand for three weeks.

It is hoped that these reserves will substantially improve the country’s ability to withstand economic and military sieges and provide it with much-needed bargaining power with oil supplying nations. ISPRL officials told The Hindu that the Mangalore reserve was coming up on 82.62 acres of land acquired from the Mangalore Special Economic Zone Ltd., at a cost of Rs. 41.31 crore. The construction is expected to be completed by 2012 at a cost of Rs. 1,000 crore.

Work on the Visakhapatnam reservoir started in April last year while land is still being acquired for the project in Padur.

Total costs

According to present official estimates, the three projects will cost over Rs. 11,000 crore. The construction of these storage spaces is expected to cost just a fraction of the total investment. The main expense will be incurred during the filling of the reservoirs with crude oil, which is expected to cost over Rs. 8,000 crore based on average crude prices of $ 55 a barrel.

Rock cavern storage

The reservoirs will be built by carving out a large cavern inside one monolithic piece of rock — an experiment that has never been tried in the country. The concept of rock cavern is popular in several countries because of the safety it provides to the crude from external threats, both natural and manmade.

Underground

The ISPRL caverns will be located several metres below ground-level.

This is expected to prevent the volatile fuels stored inside from coming into contact with external fires.

Shield

As an added shield from inflammation and gas leaks, the storage area will be enveloped by water.

Neither the fluid crude nor the inflammable gases will be able to penetrate the jacket of water.

The greatest challenge for the ISPRL prospectors was to find a large enough rock that could not only house the cavern but also meet the logistical requirements.

The present locations were selected from a long list of prospective destinations that were thrown up during satellite searches.

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