Chennai Petroleum Corporation Ltd sees increase in bitumen production, indicative of increase in road work in T.N.

CPCL, a subsidiary of the Indian Oil Corporation, increased its bitumen production by 25% compared to last year; around 60% of the bitumen produced is of viscosity grade VG 30, used in the laying of highway roads

April 15, 2023 11:47 am | Updated 01:11 pm IST - CHENNAI 

A view of CPCL in Manali in Chennai. File

A view of CPCL in Manali in Chennai. File | Photo Credit: VELANKANNI RAJ B

Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited (CPCL) has produced 553.1 thousand metric tonnes (TMT) of bitumen for the year 2022-23,  an increase of 25% as compared to last year 2021-22, when it produced 443.3 TMT of bitumen.

“The Manali refinery has the capacity to manufacture around 70 TMT of bitumen per month, so we can easily make 300 TMT more if there is demand. In the monsoon months, road construction may not take place, and demand will come down to 30 TMT per month. In the refining line, the vaccum residue is used to produce bitumen or is sent to the de-coking unit. We strike a balance between the de-coke unit and bitumen depending on the demand,” CPCL Managing Director, Arvind Kumar, told The Hindu.

Around 60% of the bitumen produced is of viscosity grade (VG) 30, which has a viscosity range of 2400 - 3600, used in the laying of highway roads. The grade called VG40, which forms around 25% of the bitumen produced and has a viscosity range of 3200-4000, is used in highly stressed areas like airport runways, truck parking lots and container terminals. The third grade, called VG10 with a viscosity of 800 – 1200 is used in low demand roads like rural roads and cold places, Mr. Kumar explained.  

CPCL, which is a subsidiary of the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd., achieved the highest-ever throughput of 11.3 million metric tonnes per annum (MMTPA) in 2022-23, which is over 107% of its capacity utilisation, as against 9.0 MMTPA in 2021-22. It surpassed past records in the production of diesel by 26.8%, petrol by 14.3%, aviation turbine fuel by 47.4%, naphtha by 23% and hexane by 6.3% compared to last year.

“In its history, CPCL has never gone to 11.3 MMTPA even when we had both the refineries at Manali and the now defunct refinery at Nagapattinam running. Before this, we only touched 10.8 MMTPA as our all-time high,” Mr. Kumar said.

A former Highways engineer said the increase in bitumen production was a reflection of how road work in the State was increasing year on year. “Around 40% of road-laying expenditure goes towards bitumen. The Chief Minister had, in 2022, announced a road development scheme to expand 2,200 km of State highway roads over the next 10 years. Similarly, the Highways Department has also taken over several thousand kilometres of rural roads, which are being improved. The renewal of many roads is also being done once in five years instead of six years, which was the standard earlier,” he said.

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