Crude oil processing was taken up from August last year

HPCL-Mittal Energy Ltd (HMEL) has fully operationalised its 9 million tonne a year or 180,000 barrels a day Guru Gobind Singh Refinery (GGSR) at Phullokari, Bhatinda.

While this will enhance India's refinery capacity, taking it close to 202 million tonnes or 4 million barrels a day, it will also raise the country's crude oil import bill. HMEL's Bhatinda refinery will be the 22nd refinery in the country.

Built at cost of about $4 billion, the refinery began crude oil processing in August 2011. The entire project was commissioned recently, the company said.

Commenting on the commissioning, Mr Lakshmi N. Mittal said, “The HPCL-Mittal joint venture has established that public-private-partnership models can succeed.”

HMEL achieved the first liquid sales in December 2011 with dispatch of kerosene and the first solid sales in February 2012 with sale of petroleum coke. The company has 80 per cent off-take agreement with Hindustan Petroleum Corporation.

Both the joint venture partners , HPCL and Mittal Energy Investment Pte Ltd, Singapore, which is part of the L N Mittal Group hold 49 per cent each in the company. The rest is held by Indian financial institutions.

Crude sourcing

Asked about crude sourcing, sources told Business Line that the company's portfolio of crude oil imports is diversified across a wide range of geographies. “The basket of crude that the refinery uses is determined through a continuous optimisation process,” the source. The largest source of supply for the country is West Asia.

Sources said HMEL has the capability to cater to Punjab's entire fuel needs. Actual sales will, however, evolve through the sponsor and marketer HPCL. Currently, HPCL supplies about 20-22 per cent of the liquid petroleum products in Punjab.

Whether the company will look at exports or not, would be premature to comment on at this stage, the sources added. HMEL can explore the possibility of exports to Pakistan due to its strategic location.

Engineers India Ltd was the project management consultant. It was was financed by a consortium of Indian banks led by State Bank of India.

richam@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on March 29, 2012)
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