Covid forces Indian refiners to mull configuration tweaks

A covid-induced shift in fuel consumption pattern is leading Indian refiners to review their refining structures and investment plans, said three officials from oil marketing companies.

Increasing demand for petrol and liquified petroleum gas (LPG) is forcing the refiners to either consider a change in refinery configurations, relook their crude oil mix or find ways to produce more of lighter distillates such as LPG and petrol, the officials said, requesting anonymity.

“How to produce less diesel and more petrol is a challenge staring at us right now. Indian refineries were constructed and designed to produce 45-50% of diesel. Also, demand for LPG is increasing. So, with the changed consumption pattern where petrol and LPG are being preferred, we will have to change our refinery configuration to produce (more of) lighter distillates,” said a senior official at an oil marketing company and one of the three people cited above. Oil secretary Tarun Kapoor said on 14 September that the demand and requirement of the economy for petrochemicals will witness a major shift, for which Indian refineries’ configurations will have to be different and new refineries will have to function.

Petrol is emerging as the preferred fuel with a pickup in personal mobility during the pandemic, according to the companies. Petrol sales are racing ahead of diesel, which continues to be the most used fuel in the country

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