Kochi is slowly emerging as a major hub for petrochemical industry in the country. At the core of this development is the Rs 14,000-crore integrated refinery expansion project (IREP) of the BPCL Kochi refinery, which is ramping up its capacity to 15 mmtpa from 9.5 mmtpa (million metric tonnes per annum).
Other projects in the pipeline include the Rs 8,000-crore petrochemical complex-cum-park of the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC). It is expected that the ancillary units to be set up in the 500-acre petrochemical park will attract huge investments, taking the total investment to over Rs 30,000 crore and making Kochi a petrochemical manufacturing centre. Several companies have already shown interest in setting up units in the park.
Speakers at a business meet recently on the petrochemical sector in Kochi, organised by the KSIDC here, also exuded confidence that projects in the pipeline, when completed, would include activities in the entire value chain-from refining to manufacturing of various industrial raw materials to downstream products.
Murali Madhavan, deputy general manager, BPCL, said the estimated investment of Rs 22,000 crore in IREP and the new petrochemical complex was the single largest investment in the state. It would trigger socio-economic development in the area and also benefit the state government in terms of tax revenue.
There would be business opportunities in support services, logistic and outsourcing. Production of about 1.3 mmtpa of petcoke would benefit Kerala-based PSUs - Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited and Travancore Cements, which at present are importing petcoke. Production of additional sulphur would benefit FACT and Travancore Titanium Limited. "A petcoke-based power plant is also in the pipeline," he said.
BPCL deputy general manager George Paul said the petrochemical complex would produce 500,000 tonne propylene and 75,000 tonne ethylene, the prime raw material for producing downstream products. The main intermediary products made from polypropylene include glacial acrylic acid, acrylates, super absorbent polymer, oxo alcohols, polypropylene, phenol, acetone and propylene oxide.
BPCL is also planning to source technology from process licensors and through a joint venture to bring in international expertise and state-of-the-art technology, said Madhavan. It expects an investment of Rs 6,200 crore in niche derivatives consuming 250-300 ktpa propylene and Rs 3,600 crore in propylene oxide/polyols, consuming 230 ktpa propylene.
"The presence of BPCL Kochi refinery, an excellent port infrastructure with ICTT, bulk cargo terminal, oil terminal and the airport connectivity are some of the key advantages of Kochi," said T P Thomas Kutty, executive director, KSIDC.