“INDIA IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF OUR GLOBAL GROWTH STRATEGY”
STEVEN C. GIMRE MD – UOP INDIA PRIVATE LIMITED, A HONEYWELL COMPANY
You have recently taken over as Managing Director at UOP India Pvt. Ltd. Tell us about your responsibilities in this new role. How do you feel about moving to India?
I took over as Managing Director, UOP India Pvt. Ltd. in April 2014 and I am very excited about moving to India. My responsibilities encompass strategic leadership, sustaining growth in the region and strengthening UOP India’s brand equity. In addition to this, I spearhead the engineering operations of UOP India; direct field operating services, technical and continued service; technology sales support and licensing; new ventures and business development and general management.
Honeywell’s UOP has completed 100 years in the petroleum refinery sector. Share with us UOP’s success story in India and globally, and the company’s role in India’s oil and gas sector.
We at UOP are very excited about achieving this very significant milestone. Across the world, we have been celebrating the completion of 100 successful years in the refinery sector. UOP is extremely proud of its history, particularly in the field of oil refining and petrochemicals, where we have had our most significant impact. In many ways, UOP’s history is synonymous with the history of the oil and gas industry.
We started our journey in Chicago, IL, on June 17, 1914, with an innovation that would change the refining industry at that time – the commercialization of the Jesse Adams Dubbs’ thermal cracking process, the first conversion technology for upgrading oil. The Dubbs Process quadrupled the yield of gasoline from crude oil at the moment mass production was introduced to automobile manufacturing. It ensured that tens of millions of people would have access to the fuels that allowed them to travel wherever and whenever they wanted. This was a revolution that changed society. UOP’s technologies were in demand wherever there was oil – in Japan, India, Europe, the United States. From then on, innovation and engineering have been at the forefront of UOP.
Soon after, we made a foray into petrochemicals, where we developed technologies that enabled our customers in the production of polyesters for everyday use, out of oil. We focused on increasing the yield of the product being derived from an oil barrel. This we did through our Platforming technology and FCC technologies that create more value with the same barrel. The most recent addition to these technologies is Uniflex, which has broad applications even in India.
We share a long history and fascinating association with India’s refining industry since its inception. UOP licensed the Dubbs thermal cracking process to
produce gasoline at India’s first refinery – the Digboi refinery in Assam (1928-31), currently operated by Indian Oil Corporation. The technology ran from 30s through the mid-90s, when it was finally shut down as part of a refinery modernization project, a testament to our long term vision and commitment to customers.
Over 50 per cent of the crude oil in India is refined using UOP processes, just as over 70 per cent of the country’s gasoline (petrol) production and over 85 per cent of its biodegradable detergents are produced using UOP technologies. We continue to closely work with most refineries and petrochemical companies in India to better understand how our technologies can be leveraged in the region and ensure that our constant innovation continues to benefit our customer’s changing needs. For example, UOP was the managing licensor of one of the largest refineries in the world - Reliance Jamnagar facility, and we continue to partner major refineries in the national and private sector.
Kindly shed light on the genesis and application of UOP’s Uniflex technology.
Traditionally, not every barrel of crude ends up as fuel. All over the world, petroleum refiners want to add value from residual fuel oil, also called the “bottom-of-the-barrel”. For many refiners, this represents the last fraction of crude oil that has not been upgraded to more useful products, so the right technology is important to maximize its value.
Higher crude prices, coupled with increasing demand, has meant that many countries including India end up spending a significant share of their budget on crude imports. Refiners and countries are thus faced with the challenge of maximizing productive output from every barrel of expensive imported crude. With UOP’s history and years of experience in the refining industry, we introduced the UOP UniflexTM Process. Uniflex is a high conversion technology, that processes low-quality residue streams, such as vacuum residue, to make very high-quality distillate products.
This technology has been developed based on years of extensive trials and has been successfully licensed.
What are the benefits of Uniflex compared to traditional solutions?
Uniflex technology offers significant advantages compared with alternatives. It allows refiners to minimize production of fuel oils, which are considered low value and maximise production of useful fuels. From a refiner’s perspective, this translates to increased yields or returns per barrel of crude, which can either mean higher revenues or lower costs. In addition, this process can readily integrate into existing facilities thus cutting down on capex.
The technology can be used worldwide to help refiners maximize their return from every barrel.
How do you see the potential of Uniflex in India?
It is not possible for available natural resources to infinitely sustain energy supply. While the country has abundant coal reserves, it continues to import expensive crude to meet rising demands. India is the world’s 4th largest oil consumer, and rising international crude oil prices have a significant impact on the import bill. For instance, in 201213, the country’s imports were valued at US$491 billion, of which oil imports accounted for US$164 billion. With the depletion of fossil fuel reserves, fuel supply is a growing concern. As resources are increasingly becoming scarce, it is critical to make intelligent use of existing resources. This indicates a dire need to maximize conversion of crude oil processed in the country through the development and early adoption of innovative technology that not only helps in optimum utilization of available resources, but also provides some insulation from regular fuel price fluctuations.
If deployed across all refineries in India today, Uniflex technology could generate 260,000 additional bbls/day of transportation fuel - effectively adding one medium size refinery capacity without the capex investments and save approximately US$9 billion in crude imports costs annually.
In view of innovations and its award-winning staff, what is the company’s annual technology development spend in India?
India is an integral part of Honeywell’s global growth strategy. Close to 10 per cent of our workforce is present here and is committed to deliver innovative technologies to customers and help them improve energy efficiency, clean energy generation, safety, security, and productivity, which are key imperatives for India. Each of the company’s global businesses – Aerospace, Automation and Control Solutions, and Performance Materials and Technologies – has a significant presence in India. Honeywell’s India commitment is evident in six state-of-the-art manufacturing and engineering operations, and five global centers of excellence for technology development and innovation. Honeywell employs close to 13,000 people across 50 locations including Delhi, Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Gurgaon and Madurai.
Honeywell’s association with India dates back to the early 1930s, when UOP entered India and
licensed the Dubbs thermal cracking process to produce gasoline at the Digboi refinery in Assam. Since then, PMT has played a significant role in the growth of Indian industries. Today, Honeywell PMT alone has around 300 employees in India, and is headquartered in Gurgaon, Haryana. PMT launched a state-of-the-art facility - the Honeywell India Technology Center (HITC), in February 2012 following an initial investment of US$34 million. The center develops and accelerates new technologies in key areas such as oil refining and petrochemical processes; high moisture-barrier packaging for the pharmaceutical industry; highperformance blowing agents for refrigeration applications; processing additives for asphalt; and nylon and plastics production. Overtime, the center has expanded its capabilities and quickly become one of Honeywell’s key technical centers employing approximately 100 chemists, engineers and technicians.
For clean-burning biofuel used to generate heat and power in burner applications, the rapid thermal processing (RTP) technology effectively reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90 per cent. What are the (other) pros and cons of this technology?
RTP is a significant part of our renewable energy and chemicals business, and is a technology based on biomass. Being an agricultural country, India produces a lot of agricultural waste. RTP could potentially utilize this agricultural waste and convert it into green fuel. This fuel, when used for burning, for power generation, or even as a green fuel intermediate for conventional petroleum refining, helps in reducing green house gas emissions by up to 90 per cent. RTP holds immense potential in India owing to the availability of biomass feedstock in the country, mainly agricultural waste and sugar mill residues. The main challenge is locating such biomass and bringing stakeholders together such that it can be supplied to the RTP unit every day, all seasons, round the year, in scalable quantities for use as a feedstock. RTP can be put wherever the supply is, even in the remotest of areas.
Since we have entered the golden age of gas and studies show that by 2035, global gas use will rise by over 50 per cent and account for more than one-quarter of global energy demand, what measures would you suggest to develop existing, proven reserves and tap into the world’s vast unconventional gas resources?
There is indeed a gas revolution happening across the globe, and recognising its potential and impact on industry, UOP has been developing technologies specific to this sector. The big challenges for those involved in this industry are time to market (especially when fields are located in remote areas) and maintaining gas quality in line with customer requirements.
Understanding these customer needs, UOP has increased its efforts in delivering contaminant removal technologies that can be deployed onsite faster than the conventional suppliers. Our modular units (branded as UOP Russell) allow our customers to cut down on project schedules and make money faster in addition to delivering gas of the requisite quality.
Does UOP have any technology for monetising the vast reserves of coal in the country?
Currently, India ranks third in coal production behind China and USA. There is a lot that India could do with the natural resource. Olefins, especially propylene, is used extensively in the plastics industry. So, India could monetise its vast coal reserves through UOP’s Methanol to Olefin (MTO) technology and produce olefins.
UOP’s MTO technology enables production of high-value petrochemicals from coal or natural gas instead of naphtha, to utilize coal as a petrochemical feedstock, the first step is gasification of coal to synthesis gas, and by using MTO, this synthesis gas can be converted to Methanol and then petrochemicals. This approach can help channel valuable crude oil imports towards fuels while supporting petrochemicals growth in India.
The MTO technology allows regions that are rich in coal or natural gas to cost-effectively and efficiently convert those resources into high yields of valuable petrochemicals to meet growing world demand. Today, UOP is successfully helping China meet its petrochemicals demand with this breakthrough MTO technology.
How do you see the potential and viability of shale gas in India? Can the US success model be replicated to meet the country’s need for fuel?
Shale gas is not quite a proven resource yet in the country, although there are policy decisions related to shale gas being discussed. However, it’s too early to say if the successful US model could be replicated in India. There are possible reserves but they have not been successfully identified.
What is India’s share in Honeywell UOP’s global business?
Honeywell India accounts for more than US$1 billion in domestic sales and exports. In 2013, Honeywell’s global sales stood at US$39.1 billion.
SN Goel MD & CEO, IEX Ltd Nasir Mulani MD, Citec India M G Raoot MD, PXIL Sunil Mehra CMD, Tractebel Engineering Pvt Ltd, India