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Ratnagiri refinery project: 4-member panel tasked with winning over opponents

September 20, 2018


The promoters of Ratnagiri Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd have tasked a four-member panel led by former IAS officer DM Sukhtankar to win over those opposing the world’s biggest oil refinery and petrochemical plant planned at Ratnagiri in Maharashtra with an investment of Rs 3 lakh crore.

The other members of the panel include economist Dr Vijay Kelkar, academician and economist Abhay Pethe and former-director of Mumbai-based Institute of Chemical Technology JB Joshi.

Kelkar confirmed the development to BusinessLine.

Along with a “strong governmental effort” to acquire 15,000 acres – critical element of the project- belonging to some 3,000 farmers, the panel will present the facts before the people to get the project on track, a director-level official at one of the state-run oil refining companies told BusinessLine.

“Nobody will listen if we go and present facts to the people. So, we have tasked the panel comprising people of eminence from Maharashtra to present the facts so that the project can be put on track,” he said, asking not to be named.

“First of all, it’s 15,000 acres of arid land. There are some areas where mangoes and cashew farms are there, but these are not significant as people are saying. What people are doing is they are buying land all over the place and trying to use that as an opportunity to increase the price,” he said.

Project details

State-run oil refiners Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum Corporation and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation will together hold 50 per cent stake in the project with Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil producer and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), holding the balance stake.

The project master plan involves setting up a 60 million tonne (mt) integrated refinery and petrochemical plant which will eventually become a city in itself.

“Because the volumes will be huge, we are thinking of setting up a facility which will look somewhat like what you are seeing in Jurong, Singapore. It is just not about building a refinery; we are trying to build a city,” the official said.

“This project is necessary for the country. It’s very easy to say don’t put up this project. If you don’t, you are going to cripple the economy which is projected to grow manifold. According to an Oil Ministry document, by 2040, 15 per cent [of energy] is expected to be gas and 7 per cent electric [vehicles], the balance motor spirit and high-speed diesel. The challenge for us is how to make the investments such that this transition to a non-hydrocarbon fuel is handled and at the same time, you don’t create an economy that face shortages,” the official said.

“We are going to look at the best in the world when it becomes operational and the petrochemical percentage will also be high. So, we are looking at bringing the best technology to see that the emissions are minimum, we are thinking of a large desalination plant somewhere around 200 million gallons per day (mgd) capacity to make water sustainable not only for the plant but also for the surroundings and the quality of products will be beyond BS-VI norms and the octane numbers will be higher,” the official added.

Published on September 20, 2018