Indian Oil to Make Maleic Anhydride

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Indian Oil Corp. Ltd. said this week that it will build a large maleic anhydride plant at its oil refinery in Panipat, India, part of a broader program to add to the number of value-added products made at the site.

Maleic anhydride is used in the manufacture of lubricant additives, like corrosion inhibitors and detergents, along with plastics, polyesters and other materials.

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In a statement released Monday, Indian Oil said it would spend Rs 3,681 crore (Rs 36.8 billion or U.S. $496 million) to build what it described as the first mega-scale maleic anhydride plant in India. The facility, scheduled to open no sooner than 2026, would have capacity to make 120,000 metric tons per year of maleic anhydride, along with 20,000 t/y of 1,4 butanediol and 16,000 t/y of tetra hydro furan.

“Petrochemicals integration is the cornerstone of our future growth strategy, given the high potential of petrochemicals in India,” Indian Oil Chairman S.M. Vaidya said. He added that India has satisfied its demand for the three chemicals mostly through imports so that the new plant would also reduce the country’s need for foreign exchange.

The lubricant industry’s demand for maleic anhydride has roughly plateaued. Overall demand is growing, primarily for such applications as fiberglass-reinforced plastics used in recreational boats, bathroom fixtures, automobiles and plumbing, as well as polyurethanes.

China is by far the world’s largest producer of maleic anhydride as a large number of smaller producers have installed capacity in recent years. Huntsman, Mitsui and Lanxess are among the world’s largest suppliers. Demand is rising fastest in the Asia-Pacific region.

Mumbai-based Indian Oil said its maleic anhydride plant will open 54 months after approval of investment for the first stage of plant construction, but it did not specify a date when that will happen.

The public sector company has undertaken a multiphase project to expand crude oil throughput capacity at the Panipat refinery from 15 million t/y to 25 million t/y. Among the other components of the project the refinery is installing an API Group III base oil plant.