Hindustan Petroleum Corporation expects to operate its Vishakhaptanam (Vizag) refinery in southern India at an expanded capacity of 15 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) from the end of June, its chairman Pushp Joshi said here on Sunday.

He was talking to the media on the sidelines of an event to flag off CNG-driven boats here.

He said that the company is in the process of commissioning units at the refinery, which previously had a capacity of 8.33 mtpa, and added that HPCL’s crude imports would rise in the next fiscal year, starting in April.

“Our crude imports will go up as we expand capacity. We will buy from wherever we get cheaper rates,” Joshi said. HPCL is the third-largest oil importer and buys over 80 per cent of its oil needs from overseas. Indian refiners are investing billions of dollars to upgrade their plants to meet rising fuel demand in Asia’s third-largest economy. “We market twice than what we produce in the refineries, so that (expansion) will help the company become sufficient in refining products.”

Joshi said HPCL’s residue upgradation project at the Vizag refinery to improve its distillate yield will be ready by the end of this year or in January. To expand its portfolio, HPCL is setting up an oil-to-chemical plant linked to its Vizag refinery and building a 5 mtpa gas import terminal at Chhara in Gujarat.

Joshi said the LNG terminal would be ready by the end of March, but commissioning would take time as a pipeline for the evacuation of gas and a breakwater, to protect vessels against high tide, are yet to be built. “We are looking at ways for operating the terminal and have floated a term sheet to import 1.5–2 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG).”