Reliance starts up ethane plant; feedstock from the US

India’s Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has commissioned what it says is the “world’s largest and most complex” ethane project. Reliance says it commission the plant, including commissioning of its ethane handling facilities and ethane cracking, at its Dahej Manufacturing Facility in Gujarat, in a “world record time of less than three years”.

It also says it is the first company to globally use large-scale imports of ethane from North America as feedstock for its cracker portfolio in India. The project involved 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; laying pipelines and upgrading crackers (to receive ethane) at its Dahej, Hazira and Nagothane manufacturing facilities.

“This successful start-up underlines our ability to build world-scale capacities and infrastructure using complex technologies, such as marine transportation of cryogenic ethane, handling of ethane at (-) 90 degrees C, supply of ethane to the crackers in an energy efficient way and pump ethane from Dahej to other locations,” the company claimed.

Since the shale gas industry in North America has grown over the past five years, ethane has become one of the most competitively priced feedstock for US crackers. The supply of ethane to Reliance’s plants in Dahej, Hazira and Nagothane will provide feedstock security and flexibility, enabling the firm 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,” said Reliance.

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