OMCs to fast-track upgrade of refineries to BS-VI standard

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Mumbai: To meet the national capital region (NCR)’s demand for cleaner fuel by April 2018, oil marketing companies (OMCs) have decided to hasten the process of upgrading their refineries, two senior officials from the refiners said.

The officials said that with less than six months left to meet the Bharat Stage-VI (BS-VI, comparable to Euro-VI) emission standard, the process could throw up some challenges but given that fuel has to be supplied only to Delhi-NCR, it could be done.

On 15 November, the oil ministry decided to advance the introduction of BS-VI grade petrol and diesel in Delhi by two years to April 2018 to help fight air pollution in the national capital.

“Because the BS-VI deadline was 2020 for the entire nation, we were working at a normal pace. But with Delhi-NCR in the picture now, we have to hasten the process at least at a few refineries from where we would supply to this market,” said a senior official from one of the refiners on condition of anonymity.

The refiners would be investing more than Rs80,000 crore in upgrading petrol and diesel quality to meet BS-VI specifications by 2020. India has already implemented Euro-III across the country and Euro-IV in major cities.

“We think this change may not be as effective because one would still be running a Euro-IV compliant vehicle on Euro-VI fuel. Using BS-VI fuel in BS-IV engines or vice versa may not only defeat the purpose of curbing pollution but also damage the engine in the long run,” said another official from a refiner.

While Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd (BPCL) would supply BS-VI fuel from its refinery at Bina, Madhya Pradesh; Indian Oil Corp. Ltd (IOCL) will supply the fuel from its Mathura and Panipat refineries.

The basic difference between BS-IV and BS-VI is in the sulphur content in the fuel. BS-VI fuel is estimated to bring down the sulphur content by 80%—from 50 parts per million (ppm) to 10 ppm.

“We will be able to meet requirement of Delhi from 1 April. We will have to tweak the fuel production slate to produce BS-VI,” said IOCL chairman Sanjiv Singh.

In an emailed response, IOCL said the details regarding supply of BS-VI fuels are being worked out currently in line with the new deadline. IOCL is currently selling 50,000 kilolitres (kl) of petrol and 48,000 kl of diesel per month in Delhi. IOCL is investing about Rs12,000-15,000 crore in projects at its refineries to upgrade to BS-VI norm fuels, the company said.

Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd (HPCL) could supply fuel from the Guru Gobind Singh refinery at Bhatinda in Punjab.

BPCL and HPCL did not reply to an email sent on Tuesday.

India took seven years to graduate from BS-III to BS-IV. BS-V, which was to be implemented in 2019, was bypassed completely. Implementation of BS-VI which had an original deadline of 2024, was advanced by four years keeping in mind India’s commitment at the 2015 Paris Climate Change conference on combatting climate change.

As part of the agreement, by 2030 India has to reduce its carbon footprint by 33-35% from the 2005 levels.