Reliance Goes Boldly

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Source: ICIS

 

By John Richardson

Reliance Industries is going boldly (no split infinitives here) where nobody has gone before: It is to build a cracker, which could eventually produce 1.6m tonne/year of ethylene, based entirely on off-gas feedstock supplied by its 1.24m tonne/year of refinery capacity at Jamnagar, Gujarat, India.

Nobody has attempted anything on this scale before as the biggest previously-built cracker that ran entirely on off-gases had a capacity of only some 100,000 tonne/year, the blog understands.

But Reliance has a reputation of getting it right and so this seems very likely to be a major success. A recent Goldman Sachs report, as fellow blogger Malini Hariharan points out in this article, said that the cracker’s ethylene costs of production would be competitive against Middle East producers, and would be cheaper than US shale gas-based projects.

The cracker’s capacity will comprise ethylene generated by cracking refinery off-gases, which contain around 1.1m tonnes/year of ethane, and the recovery of 400,000 tonnes/year of ethylene from the off-gases, adds Hariharan.

She also describes how there will be a neat integration between a new petcoke gasification plant and the cracker complex, both of which will be located at Jamnagar.

The petcoke unit will create syngas fuel for the refinery and the new petrochemicals complex, replacing the liquefied natural gas (LNG) and refinery off-gases currently being used, she writes.

The petcoke unit might also eventually supply carbon monoxide to an acetyls unit.

“It is our target that this [petcoke project] will add 30 to 40 percent to the integrated Jamnagar complex margins within the next three years,” said Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani in June.

Reliance has already confirmed derivatives investments downstream of the new cracker, including polyethylene (PE) and mono-ethylene glycol (MEG) (see above table).

The cracker will also produce 150,000-160,000 tonnes/year of propylene, part of which will be utilised to produce polypropylene (PP) co-polymer at the existing PP plants at Jamnagar.

Reliance is to also expand paraxylene (PX), purified terephthalic acid (PTA) and polyester capacities at Jamnagar and other sites in India, which will bring its total new investments in petrochemicals to $12bn.

Most of the new capacities should be absorbed by the domestic market, provided economic problems don’t get an awful lot worse.

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