Building for the future
“ONGC Petro additions Limited (OPaL) is a private joint venture company, which was incorporated in November 2006,” explains Dr. P S V Rao, chief executive of OPaL.
“OPaL is jointly owned by Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) and Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC), which hold stakes of 26 per cent, 19 per cent and five per cent of OPaL respectively.”
Aiming to provide world-class petrochemical products and services on a global scale, OPaL plans to make effective use of technology for its operations, whilst remaining sensitive towards the environment and establishing sustainable relationships with the communities based around its areas of operation. The first step on the path to attaining this long-term goal has been undertaken with the setting up of a mega-petrochemical project in the PCPIR/ SEZ zone located within the port city of Dahej, Gujarat, India. With a 1.1 million tonne dual feed cracker, the complex will be responsible for producing high density polyethylene (HDPE), linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), benzene, butadiene, carbon black feedstock (CBFS) and pygas: “All the necessary contracts and tenders have successfully been awarded and now OPaL is running to a tight schedule to ensure production can commence in the third quarter of 2013,” Dr. Rao continues.
The products that will eventually be mass-produced at the complex can be placed into two categories, polymers and chemicals. HDPE is characterised by higher temperature resistance, stiffness and superior water vapour barrier properties. Being a hard material that is abrasion resistant and has a low coefficient of friction, HDPE can be found in products and packaging such as milk jugs, detergent bottles, garbage containers and water pipes. LLDPE is a linear polymer with a high tensile strength and level of resistance, 80 per cent of which is used globally in film applications. The other polymer material to be produced by OPaL is polypropylene, which offers an excellent combination of physical, chemical, mechanical, thermal and electrical properties that are not found in any other thermoplastic. Being a tough, heat-resistant and semi-rigid material, polypropylene is ideally suited for the transfer of hot liquids or gases, and has excellent resistant to acids and alkalis
Benzene is one of four chemicals OPaL will mass-produce once production begins in 2013. An organic, colourless chemical, benzene is mostly used as an additive to other chemicals and is used to make styrene, which in turn is used in the making of plastics. Butadiene will also be made available at the Gujarat complex. A colourless, non-corrosive liquefied gas, it is found as a by-product in the steam cracking of naphtha and gas oil to make ethylene and propylene. The two other chemicals OPaL will supply will be pygas and CBFS.
“This is the largest petrochemical complex operating anywhere in the world that is incorporating the use of a dual feed cracker, which is a very unique feature when compared to the work of any other domestic producer at work today,” highlights Dr. Rao, identifying some of the company’s core strengths that will ensure the project is completed successfully. “This complex is going to be greatly boosted by being able to utilise the latest technology to ensure the highest levels of product quality. ONGC, in particular, has some of the strongest implementation skills in the industry, and it has the confidence that the project can be completed in good time, especially when supported by the project management expertise and various other skills OPaL has brought together under one roof. Bringing these pieces of the puzzle together creates a company that will undoubtedly go on to be a world-class industry leader in the field of petrochemicals.”
When asked about what role he believes India will play within the energy industry in the years to come, Dr. Rao has little doubt that the country will be playing a greater role on the world’s stage, sooner rather than later: “The way the economic and business climate is developing today means that a huge opportunity now presents itself for energy companies, and it comes in the form of India and other Asian countries. There is a phenomenal amount of technical and commercial knowledge and expertise present in the region, and OPaL definitely wanted to take advantage of this. India is also a country that continues to experience a massive increase in consumer demand for petrochemical products and OPaL is well poised to tend to that growing demand.”
It is this level of demand which is, in part, fuelling India’s economic advances and, in turn, setting OPaL up for an exciting future: “It is a shared belief throughout the local industry that Indian consumer demand for petrochemicals like the ones that will be produced here in Gujarat will increase by an average of ten per cent, year-on-year, for the next five years. I myself am confident that in the next 12 months alone, demand will grow by more than expectation as the industry really takes off,” Dr. Rao enthuses. “Currently the infrastructure in the country is not up to the standard required to meet this anticipated demand, theref the country can expect substantial financial investment to be poured into the industry over the next decade. OPaL is at the forefront of leading the petrochemical business forward, in terms of infrastructure. It can be assessed easily after visiting the OPaL site and the type of work OPaL is undertaking.
“This fanfare aside, the task at hand now is to get the complex to the point where production can begin. All the major contracts and tenders have now been awarded, meaning it is now time to concentrate on supervising, monitoring and securing the project as it moves forward, ensuring it remains efficient, economical and that its output is always of the highest possible quality. Obviously this is a highly ambitious, optimised and complex project, but OPaL is firmly on course to realise all of its aims, targets and goals for the months and years ahead.” The Board of Directors as well as the Chairman of OPaL Board are immensely encouraging the efforts and giving guidance and advice at critical times. The entire OPaL team is indebted to the Board for its constant encouragement and motivation.
ONGC Petro Additions Limited (OPaL)