Air Products announced that it has inaugurated its new world-scale industrial gas complex within the Integrated Refinery Expansion Project (IREP) of the BPCL Kochi Refinery located in Kochi, India. Air Products’ new facility was inaugurated by Dr. K.T. Jaleel, Minister for Local Self-Governments, Kerala, in the presence of Mr. P. Thilothaman, Minister for Food & Civil Supplies, Kerala, Dr. Samir J. Serhan, executive vice president for Air Products, Mr. Richard Boocock, president, Industrial Gases – Middle East, India, Egypt and Turkey for Air Products, and other dignitaries and guests.
Air Products has invested several hundred million dollars for the build-own-operate (BOO) project, the largest of its kind in India in terms of investment. Air Products’ Kochi Industrial Gas Complex, which generates hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and steam, is an invaluable constituent of BPCL’s IREP to manufacture auto-fuels complying with Euro-IV/Euro-V specifications. The industrial gases manufactured at the complex also enable BPCL to increase refining capacity by nearly two-thirds, from 190,000 to 310,000 barrels per day, while producing cleaner fuels through upgraded fuel specification. The industrial gas complex provides jobs to around 50 employees.
“Air Products is privileged to serve BPCL’s expansion needs at Kochi to provide significantly more high quality, cleaner-burning fuels,” said Serhan. “I am very proud of the team for their excellent work on this project, which achieved a flawless start-up and is now reliably supplying industrial gases to the BPCL refinery. This world-class facility represents true project execution excellence and took more than 10 million man-hours to build without any safety incidents.”
An Air Products team located across four countries, including India, the U.K., the Netherlands, and the U.S., worked on the Kochi project, built on more than 15 acres of land leased from BPCL.
“As one of the fastest growing economies in the world, we are very proud to invest in India and want to continue growing our presence and strong relationships in the region as the safest and most innovative industrial gas company,” said Boocock. The Kochi Industrial Gas Complex houses one of the most efficient and flexible HyCO (hydrogen/carbon monoxide) plants in Air Products’ global plant fleet. This is a technologically-advanced plant, built using Air Products’ proprietary technology, incorporating state-of-the-art safety features which also deliver reliability and environmental performance.”
A unique highlight of the plant is that the gas turbine is integrated into the design of the twin steam methane reformers. These are the first-ever twin steam methane reformers designed and built by Air Products with a combined capacity of 16.4 tonnes per hour of hydrogen production.
“We are committed to continuing investing in Kochi as BPCL and the downstream petrochemical industry grows,” said Hui Hong Thng, general manager – Air Products Kochi. “We understand that safe, reliable and cost-effective industrial gases are a critical enabler of local manufacturing investment, and we see our Kochi site as a national model for other states.”
“The commissioning of the IREP in 2017 has made BPCL Kochi Refinery the largest Public Sector refinery in the country and enabled it to manufacture auto-fuels complying with the required Bharat Stage IV (Euro IV) specifications and a greater depth of conversion. We are happy to partner with leading global players such as Air Products to achieve this target,” said Mr. R. Ramachandran, director, Refineries at BPCL.
“IREP is one of the largest investments Kerala has ever witnessed, targeted at enhancing the refining capacity of Kochi refinery at a cost of ₹16,500 crore. With the increased capacity of 15.5 million tonnes, the Kochi Refinery will transform itself into a most modern industrial complex having global standards. Commissioning of the state-of-the-art hydrogen generation unit by Air Products is a significant milestone towards this,” said Mr. Prasad K. Panicker, executive director, BPCL Kochi Refinery.
BPCL and Air Products are looking forward to the commissioning of a second project at Kochi, as the two companies signed a long-term agreement in January 2018 to build, own and operate a new syngas production facility. The syngas facility will be located alongside the current BOO project and will supply BPCL’s new Propylene Derivates Petrochemical Project (PDPP). The unit will employ Air Products’ proprietary cryogenic gas separation technologies to produce syngas. The PDPP enables BPCL to enter the Indian petrochemical market and enhance the value obtained from its refining operations.
The Kochi Industrial Gas Complex was executed with Air Products’ long-term alliance partner, TechnipFMC, a global leader in subsea, onshore/offshore, and surface projects for the energy industry. For more than 25 years, the alliance has provided the worldwide refining industry with competitive technology and world-class safety. The alliance is responsible for over 35 hydrogen production plants located in 11 countries around the world and produces well over two billion standard cubic meters of hydrogen per day for clean fuels production. TechnipFMC provides the design and construction expertise for steam reformers, while Air Products provides the gas separation technology.
Hydrogen is widely used in petroleum refining processes to remove impurities found in crude oil such as sulfur, olefins, and aromatics to meet product fuels specifications. Removing these components allows gasoline and diesel to burn cleaner and thus makes hydrogen a critical component in the production of cleaner fuels needed by modern, efficient internal combustion engines.