The Cauvery Basin refinery will have a capacity to process up to nine million tonnes of crude oil a year. Credit: SatyaPrem/Pixabay.
Chennai Petroleum Corporation (CPCL) will operate the 9Mtpa refinery in Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu, India. Image courtesy of Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited.
The new Cauvery Basin refinery is expected to start operations in 2025. Credit: Life-Of-Pix/Pixabay.

The Cauvery Basin refinery expansion involves the dismantling of Chennai Petroleum Corporation’s (CPCL) existing one million tonne per annum (Mtpa) refinery and the construction of a 9Mtpa grassroots refinery and petrochemical complex in Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu, India.

CPCL, which is a subsidiary of India’s state-owned Indian Oil Corporation (IOCL), will also operate the new refinery.

IOCL approved the formation of a new joint venture to implement the Cauvery Basin refinery project in January 2021. IOCL and CPCL will hold 25% stake each, while the remaining 50% in the proposed joint venture will be held by strategic and financial investors.

Foundation stone for the Rs329bn ($4.33bn) refinery project was laid in February 2021, with commissioning expected in 2025. The petroleum products produced at the new refinery complex will be supplied to the south Indian market.

Cauvery Basin refinery location and history

The Cauvery Basin refinery, also called the Nagapattinam refinery, is located on a 618-acre site at Panangudi in the Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu, in southern India.

The existing refinery had been operational since November 1993 and was shut down in April 2019. Initially, it had a processing capacity of 0.5Mtpa, which was expanded to 1Mtpa in 2002.

IOCL received an order from the Government of Tamil Nadu to acquire additional 606 acres of land, adjacent to the existing refinery site, for the Cauvery Basin refinery expansion project in September 2021.

Cauvery Basin refinery process and infrastructure

The Cauvery Basin refinery complex will comprise a combined crude and vacuum distillation unit (CDU/VDU) of 9Mtpa capacity, a 1.5Mtpa naphtha hydrotreating (NHT) unit, a 570,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) isomerisation unit, a 625,000tpa continuous catalytic regeneration reformer (CCR) unit, and a diesel hydrotreating (DHDT) unit of 4.5Mtpa capacity.

It will also include a 3Mtpa vacuum gas oil (VGO) hydrotreater unit, an Indmax fluidised catalytic cracker unit (FCCU) of 2.67Mtpa capacity, a 700,000tpa Indmax gasoline desulphurisation (GDS) unit, a 2.5Mtpa delayed coker unit (DCU), and a 110,000tpa Octamax unit to produce high-octane gasoline.

In addition, the refinery complex will house a polypropylene (PP) unit, a hydrogen generation unit (HGU), a sulphur recovery unit (SRU), and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) treating and  fuel gas amine treating units.

The new refinery will process Basrah Light and Basrah Heavy crude oil to produce a range of products including petrol, diesel, aviation turbine fuel (ATF), LPG, naphtha, polypropylene, sulphur and petcoke.

Single point mooring and pipeline details

A catenary anchor leg mooring (CALM) type single point mooring (SPM) system will be installed to receive crude oil for the refinery from very large crude carriers (VLCC).

The land fall point (LFP) will be located near CPCL’s existing jetty area at Nagapattinam, from where crude oil will be transported to the refinery through two 48in-diameter pipelines.

The product pipelines will be laid to the Karaikal Port, located 5km away from the refinery site.

Ancillary infrastructure

Other infrastructure for the Cauvery Basin refinery project will include a 3,300m3/hour sea water desalination plant, a 550m3/hour effluent treatment plant, a 175MW captive power plant and two 5MVA diesel generator (DG) sets to provide backup power supply.

The new refinery is estimated to require up to 205MW of electricity, which will be met through the captive plant and the Tamil Nadu state power grid.

Contractors involved

Engineers India (EIL) was awarded a contract worth Rs10.39bn ($142.3m) to provide engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) and project management consultancy (PMC) services for Package 1 and EPCM  services for Package 3 of the Cauvery Basin refinery project in September 2021.

The scope of Package 1 includes the CDU/VDU, fuel gas and LPG amine treating units, as well as polypropylene, naphtha hydrotreating, isomerisation, and CCR units. Package 2 involves the diesel and VGO hydrotreater units, along with the Indmax GDS and Octamax gasoline units.

EIL was also previously engaged to conduct the detailed feasibility and environmental impact assessment studies for the project.

McDermott International was contracted to provide PMC and EPCM consultancy services for Package 2 of the refinery project in October 2021. Package 2 includes the sulphur recovery and the delayed coker units of the refinery.

McDermott was also awarded a contract to provide licence, basic engineering design and proprietary catalyst for a polypropylene plant at the refinery complex in May 2019. Lummus Technology, a former subsidiary of McDermott, will supply its proprietary Novolen reactors and NHP catalyst for the plant.

Axens, a technology company based in France, was selected to provide naphtha hydrotreating, isomerisation, sulphur recovery and Octanising catalytic reforming technologies, along with VGO hydrotreating solution incorporating ZPJE spiralled tube heat exchangers technology for the CCPL Cauvery Basin refinery project in May 2021.

Chevron Lummus Global was contracted to licence and undertake basic engineering design of a 2.5Mtpa delayed coker unit for the refinery in April 2019.

KPMG was hired as the Owner’s Project Management Consultant (OPMC) to support project monitoring.

Tata Consulting Engineers (TCE) was contracted to provide EPCM consultancy services for the captive power plant project at the Cauvery Basin refinery in September 2021.