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Essar Oil to invest more than Rs 1,600 crore to upgrade Vadinar refinery; boost GRM by $1.50/bb

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Essar Oil Limited’s 20 MTPA Vadinar refinery is looking at earning an additional $1.50 (per barrel of crude) on its Gross Refinery Margin (GRM) on the back of Rs 1,600 crore of investments. The company has already invested Rs 400 crore during a 28-day planned shutdown of the refinery in September-October last year. A further Rs 1,200 crore will be invested to make additional upgrades in the various refinery units over the next 2-3 years.

The shutdown or turnaround activity involved not just routine inspection and maintenance, but also entailed the conversion of the VGO-HT unit into a mild hydrocracker (MHC) unit and the setting up of facilities to process High Acid (TAN) Crudes. Ever since, the refinery has been able to convert its entire VGO (Vacuum Gas Oil) production into higher margin products.

According to Mr C Manoharan, Director-Refinery, Essar Oil: “Post the shutdown, we have been able to modify our crude blend to process  higher quantities of ultra-heavy and high TAN   crudes, and increase the production of high value distillates. This has enabled Essar Oil to improve its crude and product mix significantly, which is reflected in our financial performance.”

Over the next 2-3 years, Essar Oil will invest ~Rs 1,200 crore to upgrade its naphtha hydro treater (NHT), isomerisation unit, continuous catalytic reformer (CCR) units and also facilities for further recovery of sulphur to further improve its margins.

Mr Lalit Kumar Gupta, Managing Director and CEO of Essar Oil, said: “We are committed to making our refinery among the best in the world through efficient deployment of resources. We will take a path of safety and sustainability in reaching our goals. We believe in setting new benchmarks for the industry with our efforts. With the shutdown having been successfully completed, EBITDA and PAT in the current financial year is expected to be significantly higher because of the full availability of the refinery, stable crude oil prices, and our ability to optimally leverage on the investments in the MHC and high TAN facilities.”

Refinery margins at Essar Oil have remained continuously above the industry benchmarks. In the quarter ended 30 June 2016, the CP-GRM of $10.29/bbl (unaudited) bettered the IEA margin for Singapore complex refineries by around $6/bbl.

The shutdown and subsequent investment decisions were taken with an eye on the surging demand for petro products in India over the medium and long term. The Vadinar refinery currently produces about 9% of India’s refining capacity and is also among the world’s most complex refineries. It has processed 91 types of crudes, including the dirtiest crudes available. In less than four years since its commissioning in 2008, the refinery capacity was increased from 10.5 MTPA to 20 MTPA, while the complexity was enhanced from 6.1 to 11.8. The refinery is capable of producing high quality Euro IV and V grade products. Its safety record is equally impressive—as on 4th August 2016, the refinery has recorded 3,046 (8.2 years) Lost Time Injury (LTI) free days and 2,631 (7 years) fire free days.

Exploration | News published on 10 / 08 / 2016 by Rashmi Nargundkar

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