BATHINDA: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will tomorrow inaugurate the Rs 21,500 crore joint venture refinery of the Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd and Lakshmi Narayan Mittal near here amidst hope of further cementing trade ties between India and Pakistan. The petroleum products of the refinery are expected to be exported through the recently commissioned Integrated Check Post (ICP) inAmritsar.
The issue of exporting oil from here is under consideration of the government as the Bathinda refinery is the closest to the border with Pakistan. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had raised the issue during opening of the Integrated Check Post (ICP) on April 13 in the presence of the trade and commerce ministers of the two countries.
A Pakistani diplomat is reported to have said that Pakistan was considering taking petrol off the negative list to get fuel from India.
The refinery having processing capacity of 9 million tonnes of crude per year has already put in place the infrastructure to further enhance the capacity when the need arises.
The road distance between Bathinda and Lahore in Pakistan is about 160 kms. This is the first investment in crude oil processing by Mittal who is otherwise known as the steel tycoon. While oil processing would be done by Mittal, marketing component would be looked after by the HPCL that has outlets and sales network throughout the country.
According to Prabh Das, managing director-cum-chief executive officer of the refinery, there were many firsts in the project. The 1017-km-long pipeline crossing through Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab was laid in a record time of 27 months.
The refinery sprawls over an area of about 2000 acres in the villages of Kanakwal, Phulokhari and Ramsara.
The foundation stone of the refinery was laid on November 13, 1988 by the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee when Parkash Singh Badal was the Chief Minister during his earlier term.
However, the work was put on slow track when the Congress government, led by Amarinder Singh, came to power in 2002 and raised objections to certain terms and conditions of the project. The project was revived again after Parkash Singh Badal returned to power in Punjab in 2007 when an MoU was signed with Mittal. Thereafter, in 2008 work was started with speed and the refinery was put on trial run within 48 months.
Sukhbir Singh Badal, Deputy Chief Minister, who was taking keen interest in commissioning of the refinery, said with its full operationalisation, the Punjab government would now attract tertiary industry that could use the by-products of refinery as their raw material and for this purpose he has asked the Industry Department to set-up an Industrial Park of 200 acres in the vicinity of Refinery.
More than 25,000 labourers were engaged day and night in completion of the refinery.
According to Moiz Tankiwala, chief operating officer, the refinery includes a world class mother polypropylene plant for developing several medium and small industries. Very few refineries in the country have the capacity to produce this product.
Polypropylene granules are used by the plastic industry as the main raw material in manufacture of plastic products including buckets, toys, furniture, casing of electrical equipment, wrapping films and woven sack bags for cement and food grains. This has the potential of investment of over Rs.1200 crores.
The refinery would also produce petrol, diesel, aviation fuel, LPG, food-grade hexane, naphtha and pet coke.
Other dignitaries expected to be present at the inauguration ceremony tomorrow morning are the Governor Shivraj Patil, union ministers Jaipal Reddy, Ambika Soni, RPM Singh, Ashwani Kumar, Perneet Kaur, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal, MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Lakshmi Narayan Mittal and top officers of the petroleum ministry.