Reliance Industries today said it has commissioned the world's largest and most complex ethane plant at its Dahej petrochemical complex in Gujarat in record time, costing about USD 1.5 billion.
The company will import large volumes of ethane from North America and use them as feedstock in its cracker to produce petrochemicals.
"Reliance is pleased to announce successful and flawless completion of its ethane project including commissioning of its ethane receipt and handling facilities and ethane cracking at its Dahej manufacturing facility in Gujarat in a record time of less than 3 years," a company statement said.
Ethane, a natural gas component, is expected to be produced in large volumes in North America due to the shale gas revolution, which has generated an abundance of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and cooking gas LPG.
Ethane is primarily used as a petrochemical feedstock to produce ethylene by steam cracking.
Reliance plans to ship 1.5 million tonne a year of ethane from its US shale joint ventures to its chemical complex in Gujarat.
The firm has two joint ventures in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale - one with Chevron, in which it has invested USD 1.7 billion, and another with Houston-based Carrizo Oil & Gas, in which it has invested USD 392 million.
The entire chain included securing ethane refrigeration capacity in the US Gulf coast, delivery of dedicated Very Large Ethane Carriers (VLECs) to carry ethane from the US Gulf Coast to the West Coast of India, construction of ethane receipt and handling facilities, pipelines and upgrade of crackers (to receive ethane) at Dahej, Hazira and Nagothane manufacturing facilities.
The VLECs are to transport liquefied ethane from the US to the Dahej terminal in Gujarat, which will be used to supply feedstock for RIL's crackers in Dahej, Hazira and Nagothane.
"This successful start-up underlines our ability to build world-scale capacities and infrastructure using complex technologies... The execution of this project at this scale and magnitude is a first in the world," RIL said.
With the phenomenal growth of shale gas industry in North America in last five years, ethane prices have fallen.
"The supply of ethane to our crackers at Dahej, Hazira and Nagothane will provide feedstock security and flexibility enabling us to select the most optimal feed mix based on market conditions.
"This will improve the cost competitiveness of our existing crackers and enable us to optimise the portfolio in a volatile market environment," the statement said.
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