MRPL to process Iraq, Latin American oil soon

Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals (MRPL) plans to begin processing oil from Iraq and Latin America from next year, helping the state-owned refiner to partly offset Iranian supplies choked off by pressure from western sanctions. 

MRPL, Iran's top Indian client till about a year ago, halted imports from Tehran in April after local insurers said they will not settle claims at plants using the oil as sanctions against Iran's nuclear programme discourage reinsurers from taking on the risk. 

The refiner aims to commission a 2.2-million-tonnes-a-year (mtpa) petrochemical fluidised catalytic cracker (PFCC) by August and a 3 mtpa unit which converts heavy residue into products — called a coker — a month after that, MRPL Managing Director P.P. Upadhya told Reuters on Tuesday.  "Once the coker stabilizes we plan to process Iraq oil and Latin America oil," Upadhya said. He said the new units will help MRPL's 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) coastal refinery in southern Karnataka state process as much as 70 per cent of heavy oil in 2014/15 (April-March) from 10-15 per cent now. 

MRPL initiated talks for importing oil from South America in 2011 and planned to lift 11,000 barrels per day (bpd) oil from Iraq in 2012/13 but could not ship it as the coker was not ready.  The refiner is also scouting for high-sulphur oil at official selling price (OSP), Upadhya said.

 India imported 26.5 per cent less oil from Iran in the fiscal year ended on March 31, 2013. 

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