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Essar Commissions Unit at Vadinar Refinery

Essar Oil Ltd., a subsidiary of Essar Energy PLC, has commissioned a second hydrogen manufacturing unit (MHU) at its 405,000-b/d Vadinar refinery in Gujarat, India.

With a hydrogen production capacity of 105,000 normal cu m/hr, MHU-2 is intended to provide greater flexibility and reliability to overall refinery operations at Vadinar, Essar said in a formal disclosure to both BSE Ltd. (formerly Bombay Stock Exchange) and National Stock Exchange of India Ltd.

The new MHU is one of the projects included in Essar’s Optima Plus program, which consists of series of low-capex and short-gestation optimization projects across the company’s refinery and marketing value chain, according to several 2013-14 presentations Essar made to investors.

In addition to the MHU, the Optima Plus program includes projects that will convert vacuum gas oil into more valuable distillates as well as increase energy conservation performance at the site.

Upon completion, Essar expects the Optima Plus program to boost Vadinar’s gross refining margin by about $1-1.50/bbl over a period of the next 2 years, said company chairman Shashi Ruia in a Dec. 24, 2014, speech to shareholders.

An initial MHU a hydrogen production capacity of 130,000 normal cu m/hr previously was commissioned at Vadinar in 2012 as part of Phase 1 of the refinery’s $1.81 billion expansion and optimization.

The Haldor Topsoe AS-licensed HMU-1, which supplies hydrogen to the Vadinar’s diesel hydrotreater and vacuum gas oil hydrotreater, is equipped to operate on six feedstock options, including natural gas, saturated refinery fuel gas, saturated LPG, hydrotreated-stabilized naphtha, and a blend of saturated LPG and hydrotreated naphtha, according to a Jan. 16, 2012, release from Essar.

At the time of commissioning, HMU-1 was one of the largest of its kind in the world and was unique for its use of a Haldor Topsoe Exchange Reformer (HTER) in parallel with the conventional steam methane reformer.

While the company did not disclose details regarding licensing and technology for HMU-2, Essar’s initial contract with Haldor Topsoe for HMU-1, signed in October 2007, included licensing, basic engineering, and the supply of HTER tube bundles and Topsoe catalysts for three 130,000 normal cu m/hr hydrogen plants, Topsoe said in a Feb. 29, 2012, release.