Reliance Industries has commissioned its ethane unit at its Dahej manufacturing facility in the Indian state of Gujarat.

Considered to be the largest and most complex ethane project in the world, the Reliance plant was built at an investment of $1.5bn, reported NTDV Profit.

The completion of the project in less than three years included the commissioning of the ethane receipt and handling facilities as well as the ethane cracking plant.

Reliance will import ethane in huge volumes from North America to use them as feedstock for its Indian cracker portfolio to produce petrochemicals at the new plant.

As per the firm, the ethane project was seamlessly integrated with various elements along a complex infrastructure value chain. One of them included getting ethane refrigeration capacity in the US Gulf coast.

The other was the delivery of dedicated Very Large Ethane Carriers (VLECs) to transport ethane to the west coast of India from the American Gulf Coast.

Besides, ethane receipt and handling facilities had to be constructed as part of the project. Likewise, pipelines were laid and crackers needed to receive ethane at Dahej, Nagothane and Hazira manufacturing plants had to be upgraded.

Reliance said that it had used complex technologies like marine transportation of cryogenic ethane, ethane handling at (-) 90 deg.C, its supply to the crackers in an energy-efficient manner and pumping of ethane from Dahej to other sites.

Reliance said in a statement: “The execution of this project at this scale and magnitude is a first in the world.

“The Shale Gas industry in North America has grown exponentially in the past 5 years. Consequently ethane has become one of the most competitively priced feedstock for US crackers.

“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.”

Reliance expects the ethane supply to enhance the cost competitiveness of its present crackers and allow it to streamline its portfolio in an otherwise prevailing volatile situation in the market.