By Malini Hariharan
Indian Oil Corp (IOC) is looking to set up a second joint venture in petrochemicals, this time with BP for production of acetic acid.
The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to explore the feasibility of a 1m tonnes/year plant in Gujarat state, on the west coast of India.
The companies will also evaluate petroleum coke gasification and syngas production. The plant, which will utilise BP's Cativa XL technology, is targeted start-up date for the project is 2015.
BP's interest in India dates back a few years. In 2007, a senior company executive had revealed plans for a joint venture 650,000 tonnes/year plant for start up in 2010.
The Indian market is sufficiently large to accommodate one worldscale plant. But Reliance Industries has talked about building plants for acetic acid and derivatives at Jamnagar, Gujarat. This project too has been in the pipeline for a few years and it remains to be seen if the company will be interested in pursuing it after the BP-IOC announcement.
It is also interesting that BP which has joined hands with Reliance in the gas value chain has decided to partner IOC for acetic acid.
The project reaffirms IOC's commitment to grow in petrochemicals. The company is currently working on another joint venture for a styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) plant at Panipat, downstream of its cracker.