Ahmedabad: Reliance Industries, owner of the world’s biggest refining complex, after the full-scale start-up of its 2.2 million tonnes per year (tpy) paraxylene plant located in western Gujarat state which is currently operating at about 800,000 tpy capacity. The project’s capacity is set to come on stream before the end of this financial year in March. This will halt heavy naphtha exports in 2017/18.
The petrochemical is primarily used in polyester and polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The main feedstock for paraxylene is heavy naphtha, a crude-based product which can also be converted into reformates, a blending component for high-octane gasoline.
At full capacity, Reliance’s paraxylene plant would require 2.7 million tonnes per year of heavy naphtha – reducing its ability to export the product and making it likely to resort to imports of heavy naphtha, the trade sources said. Traders said that they expect Reliance to import about two medium-range vessel size a month of heavy naphtha if they do have to buy the product. It currently exports heavy naphtha on a sporadic basis.
Previously, Asia was not getting much heavy naphtha but these days, Russia is able to supply heavier grades of naphtha, said one Singapore-based trader. Reliance will continue exporting paraffinic naphtha, which has a minimum 70 percent paraffin content and is used to make ethylene, a plastics feedstock.
Of India’s total 730,000 tonnes of naphtha shipped out in January, over 220,000 tonnes were from Reliance and most of it in paraffinic form.