As Naren­dra Modi govt looks to cut fuel im­port bill, HPCL set to build 3 more ethanol bio-re­finer­ies

Resource Digest - - CONTENTS -

Af­ter lay­ing the foun­da­tion stone for the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion ethanol blend­ing bio-re­fin­ery in Bhatinda, Pun­jab, in De­cem­ber, state-run Hin­dus­tan Petroleum Corp (HPCL) now plans to start work on three other such re­finer­ies in the next three months.

“We are do­ing a de­tailed fea­si­bil­ity study as we need to have a sup­ply chain for biomass,” said MK Su­rana, chair­man and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, HPCL.

The other three re­finer­ies will be set up in Ut­tar Pradesh, Bi­har and Andhra Pradesh by the com­pany, added Su­rana.

The Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance gov­ern­ment is pur­su­ing the ethanol blend­ing pro­gramme wherein it has al­lowed 10% of ethanol be­ing blended with petrol which will help in re­duc­ing the over­all fuel im­port bill of the coun­try. As per the Petroleum Plan­ning and Anal­y­sis Cell un­der the min­istry of petroleum and nat­u­ral gas, the coun­try im­ported 202.85 mil­lion tonne of crude oil in fi­nan­cial year 2015-16 at a cost of Rs 4.16 lakh crore.

The gov­ern­ment has fixed a price of Rs 39 per litre of ethanol for the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year. How­ever, the oil mar­ket­ing com­pa­nies (OMCS) have been strug­gling to achieve a tar­get of 5% ethanol blend­ing in the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year.

In to­tal 12 such re­finer­ies, three-four will be set up each by HPCL, Bharat Petroleum Corp and In­dian Oil Corp.

“The soft part such as tech­nol­ogy se­lec­tion and iden­ti­fy­ing sup­ply chain is in progress for these bio-re­finer­ies. In case of Bhatinda, we have gone a step fur­ther and iden­ti­fied land,” said Su­rana, adding the bio-re­finer­ies will take about three years for me­chan­i­cal com­ple­tion af­ter en­vi­ron­men­tal clear­ance to be­come op­er­a­tional.

Ac­cord­ing to Kalpana Jain, part­ner at con­sul­tancy firm Deloitte In­dia, sup­ply is the big­gest chal­lenge that bio re­finer­ies face. “These units re­quire con­sis­tent and con­stant sup­ply of feed­stock to re­main op­er­a­tional,” said Jain.

The Bhatinda plant is ex­pected to pro­duce 3.2 crore litres of ethanol per year which will be suf­fi­cient to meet 26% of Pun­jab’s re­quire­ment. The other states which have been iden­ti­fied to have ethanol re­finer­ies in­clude Haryana, Mad­hya Pradesh, As­sam, Odisha, Gu­jarat, Ma­ha­rash­tra and Kar­nataka at a com­bined es­ti­mated cost of Rs 10,000 crore.

Jain, how­ever, cau­tioned that pric­ing of ethanol should be kept in mind and it should be en­sured that it is not di­verted to other use apart from petrol blend­ing.

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