SPIC switches to natural gas for urea production

April 04, 2024 07:36 pm | Updated 07:36 pm IST - CHENNAI

SPIC Chairman Ashwin Muthiah says the move is aimed at reducing raw material input costs and increasing profitability

SPIC Chairman Ashwin Muthiah says the move is aimed at reducing raw material input costs and increasing profitability

Southern Petrochemical Industries Corporation Ltd.’s (SPIC) Tuticorin plant has successfully transitioned to 100% natural gas from naphtha as a raw material source for the production of urea, said Chairman Ashwin Muthiah.

“This shift aligns with our commitment to environmental sustainability and underscores our responsiveness to government policies promoting cleaner fuel sources,” Mr. Muthiah said in a statement.

“We remain committed to implementing carbon-neutral initiatives in our raw material usage and manufacturing processes, thus contributing to global climate action goals,” he added.

According to Mr. Muthiah, this move would bring down the final cost of production of fertilisers. Feedstock will now be continuously available with no storage requirements and minimum logistics and freight overheads.

Fuel oil and naphtha were traditionally the primary fuels in fertiliser production despite their higher impurity levels and environmental pollution potential. Recognising the importance of ecological conservation, the Government of India had advised all fertiliser manufacturers to switch to natural gas.

Until March 2024, SPIC utilised a combination of fuels, with 60% of its domestic natural gas supplied through the IOC Ramnad Tuticorin Pipeline from ONGC, Ramnad.

The completion of IOC’s southern region pipeline team’s Ennore cross-country pipeline and ONGC supply of domestic gas through IOC cross country pipeline enabled SPIC to switch over to a cleaner fuel source.

In preparation for this transition, SPIC had adapted its primary reformer catalyst to handle 100% natural gas. SPIC is one of the anchor customers to benefit from this pipeline, Mr. Muthiah said.

Urea, a widely used fertiliser, has the molecular formula. It contains the elements such as nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen. Carbon and hydrogen can be extracted from fuel oil, naphtha, and natural gas, while nitrogen and oxygen are taken from the atmosphere.

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