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Petcoke-Image Courtesy: HMEL
 
It is a residue-to-riches mantra for Indian refineries-cum-petrochemical companies that are strapped for natural gas and deterred by high price of gas and liquid fuels. They are focusing on petcoke, a residue of refining process, as a fuel for captive power generation and as an avenue for manufacturing certain chemicals. 
Petcoke is thus emerging as driver of economic efficiency for Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), HPCL-Mittal Energy Limited (HMEL), Bharat Oman Refineries Limited, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), etc.   
The comparative economics of generating electricity from petcoke is so appealing to them they are putting their gas or liquid fuels-fired boilers and gas turbines in the standby mode!
The companies prefer petcoke to coal as the former has several advantages, apart from freight advantage accruing from in-house availability.  Pet coke has high calorific content, high combustion efficiency and very low ash content as compared to indigenous coal. It also offers certain technical advantage over coal in its use in circulating fluidized bed combustion (CFBC) boilers.
Fuel-grade petcoke is a by-product of secondary processing of residues flowing from primary refining in a unit called delayed coker unit (DCU).  The value addition to petcoke is therefore giving a new dimension to the utilization of the ‘bottom of the barrel’ by refineries. It is also giving depth to 'Make in India' Initiative. 
RIL is thus introducing petcoke as fuel for captive power generation at its all major manufacturing hubs in the country.  It, for instance, has proposed to substitute coal with petcoke at its proposed 360-MW thermal power plant being set up at its Hazira Manufacturing Division (HMD) in Gujarat.  It would produce both steam for petrochemical processes and generate power for in-house consumption.  The Rs 2200-crore project includes a jetty for receipt of petcoke from the company’s refineries at Jamnagar. 
HMD currently gets steam and power from its 380-MW gas-based captive cogeneration power plant (CCPP).  According to a company document accessed by NMLEO News, “The existing gas-based generators will be preserved for exigencies.” 
It says: “The pet coke-based captive CCPP will ensure supply of power and steam at competitive cost, providing greater flexibility and viability to the Hazira Manufacturing operations.”
RIL is also bracing to implement a project for debottlenecking-cum-expansion of naphtha cracker and downstream units at HMD with investment of Rs 2100 crore.  
It has also proposed to set up a 124-MW coal/petcoke-based captive power plant at its Patalganga Manufacturing Division (PMD) in Raigad district of Maharashtra. In this case, the company would enhance the capacity of 48-MW gas-based CCPP to 66 MW through efficiency improvement measures. The company would debottleneck the linear alkyl benzene (LAB) and purified terephthalic acid (PTA) plants at PMD. 
RIL has mooted use of petcoke/coal as alternative fuels for boilers at Silvassa Manufacturing Division (SMD) in Dadar & Nagar Haveli. SMD currently operates a 50 MW gas-based CCPP at the site.  
These three petcoke usage initiatives are in addition to upcoming, giant petcoke gasification project at RIL’s Jamnagar Special Economic Zone. The project would yield feedstock for production of several chemicals and fuel for 2100-MW CCPP.
Like RIL-SMD, HMEL has proposed to install two petcoke/coal-fired boilers that will substitute the existing oil / gas-fired boilers to improve its profitability. The proposed boilers with aggregate capacity of 600 tonnes per hour of steam would serve the existing 165MW CCPP at Bathinda refinery in Punjab. 
According to a HMEL document, “Pet coke has higher calorific value and lower ash content (as compared to coal) which makes it a very attractive option for firing in the steam generators.”
HMEL is ramping up the crude processing capacity of its refinery from 9 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) to 11.25 MTPA, which would also result in an increase in production of petcoke. 
Bharat Oman Refineries Ltd (BORL) also intends to substitute imported coal with in-house petcoke at its 99-MW CCPP at its Bina refinery in Madhya Pradesh. 
BORL last year solicited bids for revival of limestone handling system & petcoke firing (LHSPF) in circulating fluidized bed combustion (CFBC) boilers with lime stone at CCPP. Limestone helps in minimizing sulphur dioxide emissions from petcoke firing. 
The company has so far been operating CCPP with Indonesian coal due to glitches in commissioning of LHSPF. BORL intends to enhance its refining capacity from 6 MTPA to 7.5 MTPA through debottlenecking at a cost of Rs 2519 crore. This would result in 27% increase in pet coke production capacity of the refinery to 523,000 TPA. 
Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) is pursuing both the options for production of chemicals and electricity from petcoke at its refinery-cum-petrochemicals complex at its refinery-cum-petrochem complex at Paradip in Odisha. The 15 MTPA Paradip refinery is currently undergoing trial runs. 
Under the framework of IOC’s MOU signed with Texas-based Celanese Corporation in October 2014 for a potential JV, Global engineering firm, Fluor Daniel, is preparing a feasibility report on petcoke gasification-based project for producing 1500,000 TPA of acetic acid and 1.13 MTPA of ethanol.  The gasification project can also provide fuel to 170-MW gas turbines at Paradip. 
In October 2014, IOC had also solicited bids from consultancy firms for preparing a comprehensive plan for value addition of fuel-grade petcoke produced/to be produced at its four refineries. At present, only Baroda and Panipat refineries manufacture fuel-grade petcoke. The refineries at Paradip and Halida would start petcoke production shortly. IOC has estimated total petcoke availability from these four refineries at 3.5 MTPA in 2017. This offers immense opportunity to IOC for gasification, apart from using petcoke as well as fuel for thermal power generation.
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