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By: Dharmik Sai Mikkilineni








Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited (MRPL), a public sector
refinery, started up in 1996. The refinery is divided into two phases, with a third one
established recently. 1996 marked the beginning of phase 1 of the refinery having a
capacity of around 3.69Million Metric Tons (MMT). In 1999 this capacity increased to
9.69MMT with phase 2 commencing with a capacity of 6 MMT. However, MRPL runs at
12MMT, which is an efficiency of nearly 130%, with phase 1 running at 4.8MMT and
phase 2 running at 7.2MMT. MRPL is responsible for supplying oil to the entire state of
Karnataka and also to Mauritius along with small quantities exported to various other
countries in Asia. The nelson complexity Index of MRPL is around 5.5 without phase 3
and the UOPK factor of the crude obtained is approximately 12. The nelson complexity
index is a measure of the secondary conversion capacity of a refinery relative to the
primary distillation unit, namely the Crude Distillation Unit (CDU). MRPL is large with
around 1200 people comprising its workforce and covering nearly 3000 acres. Water, one
of the most important utilities for a refinery, is supplied to MRPL from the Netravathi
River nearly 45 Km away via, a large pipeline. All of the operations are monitored using
the Distributed Control system (DCS network) where signals are sent from the field to the
marshalling cabinets and then to the corresponding servers which distributes the signals
among several console stations operated by the respective operators in the control room.
Phase 1 is controlled using the Honeywell Experion PKS system while phases 2 and 3 are
managed by the Yokogawa Centum VP system.
Petroleum products can be primarily into 3 different types: Light Distillates (LPG,
Gasoline, Naphtha), Middle Distillates and (Kerosene, Diesel) and Heavy Distillates
(Heavy Fuel Oil, Wax, Asphalt/Bitumen). MRPL's refinery process aims to produce bulk
or major quantities of middle distillates. MRPLs refinery process starts off with crude
imported or bought and sent to MRPL jetty tankers. Crude is then transferred to the crude
receipt area where the crude is billed. MRPL owns 2 jetties in order to allow adequate
crude to be obtained and refined. Once the crude is paid for, it is sent to the crude feed
which pumps the crude to the Crude Distillation Column (CDU). The CDU distils the
crude primarily into LPG, Naphtha, Kerosene, Diesel and Reduced Crude Oil (RCO).
The sour fuel gas coming from the CDU goes to amine treatment and the resulting
sweet gas is used for heating processes in the refinery. Sour water stripper strips the CDU
column for sour water which goes into waste water treatment and subsequently, the deep
water effluent. Some of the sour water enters the Sulfur Recovery Unit, which helps
producing the sulfur found in the sulfur pit. LPG undergoes amine treatment and enters
the LPG Merox Unit to remove the sulfur compounds or the Mercaptans which is then
sent to the domestic market in bottled and bulk forms.
Light Naphtha undergoes caustic wash to yield marketable Naphtha and sold to
fertilizer and petrochemical industries. Heavy Naphtha goes to the Naphtha Hydrotreater
which then goes to the Continuous Catalytic Reformer (CCR) unit. Reformate is then sent
to jetties for exporting. Naphtha also enters the gasoline blending section to yield
gasoline or Motor Spirit (MS) which is consumed in local markets. Kerosene from the
CDU unit enters the Kerosene Merox unit to provide mercaptan-free kerosene sent to
jetties for exporting and consumed in local markets. Some kerosene is also blended with
other important chemicals to provide Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) consumed in all local

airplanes. Diesel also produced by the CDU unit enters the diesel blending area and used
in domestic markets.
The Reduced Crude Oil which cannot be further distilled in the CDU unit enters
the Vacuum Distillation Unit (VDU). The RCO is further distilled into Vacuum Gas Oil
(VGO) and Vacuum Residue. The components are sent to the HydroCracker Unit (HCU)
which distils the VGO into LPG, Naphtha, ATF, Diesel and Low Sulfur Heavy Stock
(LSHS). The VisBreaker Unit (VBU) then breaks the Vacuum Residue into Naphtha,
Diesel and Fuel/Furnace Oil. The Bitumen Blowing Unit (BBU) subsequently takes in
the heavy leftover residue to produce Bitumen and any remaining residue is recycled
back to the VDU which repeats the above process.
Table 1. MRPL products and Catalysts
MRPL Products
MRPL Catalysts
Filter Clay
Motor Gasoline
OHC-HCU Catalyst
Treated Effluent
NHT Catalyst CCR
Diesel (CDU)
CCR Catalyst (regenerated)
Diesel (0.25% S)
CCR Catalyst (Spent)
Aviation Turbine Fuel Chloride Guard Catalyst
Vacuum Gas Oil
ZnO Catalyst
Raw Effluent
Reformer Catalyst (46-1 & 46-4)
Diesel (GOHDS)
HT Shift Converter Catalyst
Diesel (HCU)
Activated Carbon (Walter filtering medium)
DC Balls (2304G & 2304-PSA-H2)
Product Sulfur
Ceramic Fiber in furnaces
Glass Wool for insulators
Furnace Oil
Silica Gel
Mixed Xylene
NaOH (Water treatment chemical)
De-oiling (Poly electrolyte)
H2O2 (Hydrogen Peroxide-Water Treatment Chemical)
*Note: The Catalysts and Products are not corresponding to each other and in no
particular order.
Table 2. Feed and Products for each Unit.
Crude Distillation (CDU)
Crude Oil

Reduced Crude Oil


Vacuum Distillation
VisBreaker (VBU)


HydroCracker (HCU)

Vacuum Gas Oil



Continuous Catalytic

Heavy Naphtha

Vacuum Residue

LPG, Naphtha, Kerosene,
Diesel, Reduced Crude Oil
Vacuum Gas Oil (VGO),
Vacuum Residue
Naphtha (Gasoline), Diesel,
Fuel/Furnace Oil
LPG, Naphtha, ATF, Diesel,
Low Sulfur Heavy Stock
Reformate (High octane


Reformer (CCR)


Bitumen Blowing (BBU)
Sulfur Recovery (SRU)
Amine Treatment (ATU)
Sour Water Stripper (SWS)



Light Naphtha
LPG & Kerosene
Vacuum Residue
Amine Acid Gas
H2S Rich Amine
H2S & NH3 rich sour
Sweet Naphtha
Naphtha, Kerosene,
Diesel, VGO

petrol), LPG, Hydrogen

Isomerate (High octane
Petrol), LPG, Mixed
Mercaptan-free products
H2S free Lean Amine
H2S & NH3 free sour water
High purity Hydrogen
Low Sulfur products

Crude oil is essentially hydrocarbon compounds which comprise 85-90% Carbon,
10-14% Hydrogen, 0.2-3% S, 0.1-2% N, 1-1.5% O and other metals in traces. Purchasing
of the Crude is the beginning process of any refinery without which none of the products
mentioned above will be produced. 90% of MRPL's crude is obtained from the following
places: Iran (NIOC), Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi (ADNOC), Kuwait (KW) and Bombay
(Bombay high). The remaining 10% is imported from various countries. This 10% is
chosen from 1000 different crudes available in the world, out of which far away countries
like USA and those in Europe and South America are eliminated leaving only around 200
crudes. These remaining 200 odd crudes are then inputted into a linear program to decide
the best crude amongst those. MRPL uses the Aspen PIMS linear program, which
determines the best crude based on price, availability, quality and other such factors.
Crude is primarily classified into four main categories: Paraffins, Olefins,
Naphthenes and Aromatics (PONA analysis). Paraffins are straight chain single bond
hydrocarbon compounds with the formula CnH2n+2. Olefins are unsaturated hydrocarbons
or paraffins which have been dehydrogenated with the formula CnH2n. Naphthenes are
ring or cyclic single bond hydrocarbon compounds such as cyclohexane and
cyclopentane. Aromatics are cyclic compounds with double bonds and include any
compound with the benzene ring. Another characterization of crude is of sweet crude and
sour crude, which is based on the sulfur content. Sweet crude is crude with lesser than
0.5% sulfur content and crude with greater than 2.5% is termed as sour crude. MRPL, so
far, has handled crude with a maximum sulfur content of 2.8%.
As mentioned before the UOPK factor is approximately 12. This characterization
factor classifies crude oil according to its Paraffinic, Olefinic, Naphthenic and Aromatic
(PONA) nature. A value of 12.5 or higher indicates that the crude is highly paraffinic
while 10 or lower indicates a predominant Aromatic nature. Since MRPL produces
mainly middle distillates, crude should preferably contain a higher degree of naphthenes
in order to convert these naphthenes to aromatics in the Reformer unit which produces a
higher RON for diesel. The K factor is calculated by taking the cube root of the boiling
point of crude divided by its corresponding density.



The primary process in a refinery is the Crude Distillation Unit. All other units
fall under the category of secondary processes. The crude feed is first sent to desalter
tank, where crude is stripped of its salts. Crude oil contains a certain amount of calcium,
sodium, magnesium and other metal chlorides and compounds. The main intention of
desalting is to prevent fouling and corrosion of equipment due to the deposition of salts,
especially chlorides. It is also to ensure the salts do not deactivate any of the various
catalysts used. Desalting can be done either chemically or through electrostatic separation
using water as the extraction agent. MRPL uses the electrostatic method where
Demineralised (DM) water and crude is first mixed using a mixer. Due to the polar nature
of water, salts are absorbed from the crude. A demulsifying agent is added to prevent an
emulsion of crude and water forming and hence, allows better separation of the two
components. This mixture is subject to a high voltage electrical field inside the desalting
vessel where water droplets coalesce and drop down, due to gravity, and can then be
stripped off from the bottom. Another important use of the desalters is to separate any
water content from the crude because if moisture is present, it will get flashed in the CDU
column and disturb the trays due to the high expansion coefficient of water. Desalters
reduce salt content of the crude by 90-98%. The crude is then sent from the desalters to
three sets of preheat trains where crude is heated to the adequate temperature and sent to
the CDU column.
For any distillation process, the driving force is the relative volatility, which
essentially means the difference in boiling points of the various components in the crude.
The distillation column works at atmospheric pressure, which is 1 atm or 1kg/cm 2. MRPL
has 2 CDU columns and 2 VDU columns with one more column of each coming up in
phase 3. Distillation columns can either be filled with trays or packing. Packing is a more
efficient form of mass/heat transfer than the use of trays since it increases the liquid vapor
contact, however packing is very expensive. Hence, trays would suffice for the CDU
column since the products have large boiling point differences and high efficiency is not
required. The CDU column in MRPL contains 46 trays. MRPL uses four different types
of trays based on the stipulated requirements: Valve, Sieve, Bubble and Chimney trays.
While, there are two types of packing: random and structured. Random packing is
preferable due to increased efficiency. The Vacuum Distillation Unit (VDU) operates
using packing due to the requirement of a greater degree of separation or distillation.
Vacuum Distillation is used to distil the Reduced Crude Oil obtained from the CDU unit
to Vacuum Gas Oil and Vacuum Residue. One of the most prominent questions asked
around is why vacuum is needed in this distillation column and why atmospheric pressure
would not suffice.
The answer to this question is to understand an extremely important property
taken into consideration in a refinery: Lower the pressure, lower the boiling point
temperature. Hence due to the very low or negligible pressure of vacuum, the
components would flash or vaporize at much lower temperatures. Otherwise the
distillation process would require extremely high temperature and energy, which in turn
increases operation costs. These high temperatures could also lead to some amount of
cracking and coke formation. A distinguishable feature of the VDU column from the
CDU is the use of steam ejectors. There are 3 ejectors used to maintain vacuum in VDU.

These ejectors work on the basis of Bernoullis principle and convert the generated
pressure to velocity.
Another important parameter controlled in both these columns is the
reflux, which is of two types: circulating reflux and internal reflux. The use of reflux is to
improve thermal efficiency and to maintain better flow of the various streams. Circulating
reflux is where reflux is collected in a reflux drum from a lower plate and part of it is sent
back to a higher plate in order to control the heat load. This happens due to the fact that
as you go down a distillation column temperature increases and since the reflux at a
lower plate is at a higher temperature, it will provide the required heat for the liquid to
flash at the upper plate. Internal Reflux, on the other hand, is where some of the vapors
above the condensate fall to a lower plate via the downcomer. This condensate is then
vaporized to rise to the upper plate again.
Table 3. Boiling Cuts (IBP-FBP)
Diesel (HSD)
Short Residue (SR) (Same as RCO)

Boiling cuts (C)

Light Naphtha 35-90
Heavy Naphtha 90-150

The products obtained from the distillation columns contain mercaptans.
Mercaptan is a sulfur compound designated as RSH where R is an alkyl radical attached
to Sulfur which is attached to Hydrogen. These compounds can be toxic and are highly
corrosive leading to the need of their removal. Merox is an abbreviation for Mercaptan
Oxidation. There are two types of merox treatments possible: Extractive Merox and
Sweetening Merox. LPG undergoes extractive merox while kerosene undergoes the
sweetening merox. LPG goes from the CDU unit to the amine treatment unit where LPG
is treated for amines which are removed. LPG then travels to the LPG merox where
mercaptans are completely extracted/ removed. Kerosene, on the other hand, undergoes a
caustic wash where NaOH is added to the solution. Mercaptans are then sweetened by
converting the RSH compound to other sulfur containing compounds which are less
poisonous and less corrosive. The reaction that takes place is given below:
NaSR is then oxidized again to form disulfide. The reaction takes place in the presence of
air and catalyst. The reaction is:
NaSR + RSH +1/2O2 NaOH + (RS)2
This step is useful in another way by regenerating the caustic or NaOH and hence
it is not required to procure this solution constantly. Since MRPL is an old refinery,
merox units are present. However the disadvantage with merox units is that they produce
other sulfur containing compounds especially sulfur oxides, which are major pollutants to
the environment. Hence modern refineries are opting for catalytic dehydrosulfurisation

units, which are more economical and further processing is not required to remove the
sulfur oxides present in the product.
Vacuum Residue from the VDU goes to the VisBreaker Unit (VBU). This is a
mild thermal cracking unit that cracks high vacuum distillates and residues to give
gasoline, naphtha, gas oil and furnace oil as products. Visbreaker is of 2 types: Furnace
process and soaker process. MRPL implements the soaker process. The main difference
between the furnace and soaker process is the use of an extra vessel known as the soaker,
which is placed between the furnace and the fractionators to give extra residence time for
the reaction to take place. The main reactions that take place are:
OlefinsOlefins +Olefins/Paraffins
However the VisBreaker Unit is not very popular these days with most modern
refineries opting for the Delayed Coker Unit. In fact, MRPL itself has employed this unit
in phase 3. Some of the differences have been listed:
The conditions/ severity, such as the temperature, of the delayed coker unit are
much greater than the VBU and hence, components in the delayed coker unit
undergo a much greater degree of cracking. This can be observed with the fact
that the light oils percent in the VBU is only 3-5% as compared to 70% seen in
the delayed coker.
The delayed coker unit works in batch process with 4 reactors, however the inlet
and outlet will function as continuous processes. By the time the input reaches the
4th reactor, the first reactor needs to be cleaned of coke and input needs to be
filled. Filling of these reactors is a very long process taking nearly 8 hours.
Coke formed in bottom of these reactors due to the extreme conditions and the
extent of cracking seen. This coke is cleaned out using high pressure water
(100kg/cm2) to cut the coke which is then dumped out.
Due to the existence of the batch process and the requirement of coke cleaning,
delayed coker unit is one of the most difficult equipments to manage, in
mechanical terms.
No catalyst or hydrogen presence is required in the delayed coker unit yielding
very high olefin content in the product.
The most important disadvantage of the VBU versus the delayed coker unit is that
the VBU produces fuel oil which is very low in market price (also known as black
oil) whereas the delayed coker converts this black oil to white oil within the unit
itself yielding much higher quality products.
The HydroCracker Unit is one of the most important units where Vacuum Gas Oil
obtained from the VDU is cracked to provide useful products, which are LPG, Naphtha,
ATF, diesel and Low Sulfur Heavy Stock (LSHS). LSHS is nothing but fuel oil with less
than 1% Sulfur content. Hydrocracking is nothing but cracking in the presence of
hydrogen and catalyst. Cracking is the breaking of complex heavy hydrocarbons
subjected to heat to form several different pieces, which are lighter and simpler. The

HCU in MRPL contains 3 fixed bed reactors in order to treat the VGO. Fixed bed
reactors are used to treat Vacuum Gas Oil and ebulliated bed reactors used for residue.
The hydrocraker unit works in extreme conditions with temperatures ranging from
420-450c and a pressure of almost 186kg/cm 2 indicating that the HCU has the highest
pressure requirement of all the units. Due to the severity, the HCU undergoes a shutdown
once a year. In order to reach the pressure requirements, the HCU unit uses a series of
centrifugal and reciprocating pumps. The centrifugal pump runs at nearly 10000rpm but
produces a very small differential pressure change. The reciprocating pump runs at
3000rpm but increases pressure from 6 to only around 20kg/cm 2. To translate this
pressure to the required pressure multiple impellers and a gear box is used. The
reciprocating pump consumes nearly 3.6MW of power. Hence to minimize this
requirement, MRPL takes advantage of a turbine placed in front of the Feed Surge Drum
(FSD). The turbine can generate nearly 2.8MW of power implying that only 0.8MW of
power needs to be supplied. This turbine is known as the Power Recovery Turbine (PRT).
Currently in phase 1 and 2, recycle hydrocrackers are being operated, however in phase 3
MRPL will be utilizing the once-through hydrocrackers. A once through flow is when the
input flows only once in the reactor and yields the product without any of the input
reprocessed in the reactor. MRPL is one of the only refineries in India to have two
Hydrocracker and CCR units.
The reactions taking place in the hydrocracker unit are overall exothermic and lot
of energy is released. The HCU is the biggest consumer of hydrogen in the refinery
requiring large amounts of H2 gas to crack the VGO. Each reactor has 4 beds. The first
bed is treated for sulfur and nitrogen, which is converted to ammonia, so the
corresponding treatment catalyst, is used, while the other three beds contain the
hydrocracking catalyst. Multiple beds are used rather than allowing the reactions to take
place in a single bed in order to maintain the cold temperature of the hydrogen. Some
reflux of the hydrogen is taken from the second bed and added to the third bed and same
process repeated for the fourth bed. Cold temperature is necessary since the reaction is
already highly exothermic providing very high temperatures in the reactor upon
completion of the reaction. The HCU operates with excess hydrogen and due to this
undergoes several other reactions in the first bed of the reactor. These reactions are same
as any hydro treatment reactions:
RSH+H2RH+H2S (Desulfurization)
ROH+H2RH+H2O (Deoxygenation)
RNH+H2RH+NH3 (Denitrogenation)
RM+H2RH+MH (Demetallation)
Due to the rising demand of gasoline and jet fuel, hydrocracker units are becoming
more prevalent in refineries. This is due to the very high gasoline yield of the unit
coupled with gasoline with high octane numbers providing a good Research Octane
Number (RON) for marketable purposes. Another important unit similar the HCU is the
Fluid Catalytic Cracking unit (FCC).The main differences are:
The FCC unit undergoes a greater degree of cracking
FCC requires sulfur free and low aromatic content VGO. But the HCU can crack
gas oil with high aromatic content the HCU contains sulfur treatment in the same


FCC produces 50-60% light Naphtha and gasoline and the rest kerosene and
diesel. The HCU, on the other hand, produces 80% kerosene and diesel.
The FCC unit has a greater degree of olefins in the product due to the absence of
hydrogen as opposed to the HCU.
FCC unit is one of the most difficult instruments to manage, from a technical

Continuous Catalytic Reformer converts heavy Naphtha to High octane gasoline,
LPG and hydrogen. The high octane petrol product is known as reformate. However, the
most valuable aspect of this unit is the high production quantities of hydrogen. Naphtha
with high content of paraffins, olefins and naphthenes are converted to aromatics, hence
yielding higher octane petrol. The main reactions that occur in this unit are:
Paraffins converted to isoparaffins
Paraffins converted to naphthenes
Naphthenes converted to aromatics
However side reactions occur, one of them being:
Some paraffins and naphthenes crack to form butanes and lighter gases
Naphthenes are converted to aromatics by the dehydrogenation process where
hydrogen is removed forming an important by-product. The CCR unit is one of the major
suppliers of hydrogen and any extra hydrogen required is generated by a hydrogen plant.
The reactor contains 4 beds similar to the HCU, but the reaction in this case, is
endothermic. Due to this difference the reflux of hydrogen is taken from the first bed,
heated and then supplied to the second bed and so on and so forth, unlike the cold
hydrogen reflux in the HCU. The hydrogen reflux not only maintains temperature and
flow but also avoids some amount of coking. Chlorides (anions) in the form of dimethyl
chloride are added to the catalyst in order for it to form cations since the catalyst is only
active in the ionic state. These chlorides are later treated and removed. The unique feature
of the CCR unit is the continuous regeneration of the catalyst which becomes spent/
inactive due to coking. The coke is eliminated in the regeneration section where several
hoppers are used to retain the spent catalyst for coke removal and the active form sent
back to the reactors. The coke is removed by the following oxidation reaction:
C (coke) + O2 CO & CO2
An essential part of this section is to ensure the catalyst is kept dry since it is very
reactive with water. The average amounts in the MRPL regeneration section is 29600 kg
of catalyst flowing down at 450lb/hr. Hence for every particle of the catalyst to reach
down and get regenerated it takes nearly 6 days. The actual metal or reacting part of the
catalyst is only 2%, while the rest is the area over which the catalyst acts on. This is so
due to the extremely high prices of the catalyst. For example, the catalyst costs nearly 24
crores and lasts for around 10 years. For the Hydrocracker Unit, the catalyst is more
valuable costing the same 24 crores but with a lifetime of only 3 years. This is due to the
lack of the regeneration section present in the CCR unit. However, one positive aspect of
the catalyst is that the used/spent catalyst is also highly valuable costing roughly 20

The two most important variables in gasoline blending are the octane number and
the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP). The main objective of the CCR is to increase the octane
number of gasoline to provide a higher Research Octane Number (RON). Octane number
is the amount of isooctanes in the product which measures the ignition quality of gas,
where 100% isooctane reads a 100 RON while 100% normal heptanes translates to a 0
RON. To understand the octane number better it is essential to understand the car engine
and the idea of knocking first. A gasoline engine comprises of a gas tank, fuel pump,
carburetor, cylinder, piston and a spark plug. The only difference with this engine and the
diesel engine is that the diesel version does not have the spark plug. This spark plug is
responsible for igniting the fuel-air mixture at a specific time based on the piston stroke
cycle. However due to low octane number and inadequate compression or high
temperature or pressure, the fuel air mixture might ignite improperly creating an
explosion and interfering with the cycle. This leads to the knocking sound heard from the
engine and hence termed as knock. The octane number represents the amount of
aromatics, which have a unique feature of resisting self-ignition. Hence, higher the octane
number, higher the compression ratio and longer the power stroke and more powerful the
engine. This provides greater resistance to knocking. The octane number can be
characterized in two parts:
Research Octane Number (RON): simulates driving under mild conditions
Motor Octane Number (MON): run under more severe conditions and simulates
operations under load or at high speeds and tries to achieve conditions as close as
possible to the actual engine.
What is seen on gasoline pumps is usually the average of these two values. Octane
number is also increased with the addition of lead in the form of TetraEthyl Lead (TEL)
or TetraMethyl Lead (TML). Another special property of this lead is it increases the RON
without affecting other properties such as the RVP. However it is highly toxic and limited
to minute quantities in gasoline (less than 0.5%).
The other important parameter is the Reid Vapor Pressure, which is measure of the
volatility of this gasoline. RVP represents the fuels evaporation at 100F. The RVP varies
with seasons, since it is dependent on temperature. The gasoline must be able to
withstand the two extreme conditions:
On cold starts, enough gasoline (10%) must vaporize to give an ignitable
mixture and the rest of the gasoline should subsequently burn too.
When engine is completely warmed up the vapor must not expand so much that
no air can be mixed. Mixture should still be ignitable.
The Indian standards of motor spirit (M.S) are a minimum RON of 91, minimum
MON of 81 and a maximum RVP of 60. To obtain these specifications, gasoline from
various units such as the CCR, CDU, Isomerisation unit, etc are all blended in the
blending section.
Diesel engines, on the other hand, do not have the spark plug. The fuel ignites
itself. The property that measures the ignition quality of diesel is the cetane number.
Higher cetane fuels will have shorter ignition delay periods than lower cetane fuels.
Cetane is an un-branched alkane hydrocarbon (C16H34). Hence paraffins are more

desirable in diesel due their low self-ignition temperatures. Therefore diesel is not
produced in the CCR unit, which increases the aromatic content of fuels. Regular diesel
normally contains 40-45% cetane, while premium diesel has 45-50%. Premium diesel has
a lighter range, more volatile fractions and is better for cold starts. Diesel is blended in
the blending unit similar to gasoline.
The HDS unit is used to treat sulfur and reduce the content to meet the
environmental requirements. This unit is also known as the Hydrotreater Unit The sulfur
is catalytically hydrogenated to form H2S and removed from the product. Sulfur needs to
be removed to reduce sulfur oxide emissions (a major pollutant) which are formed upon
the combustion of automotive fuels. Another necessity of the removal is that sulfur can
poison the catalyst making it permanently inactive. MRPL has two HDS units: Kerosene
Hydrodesulfurization (KHDS) and Gas Oil Hydrodesulfurization (GOHDS).
Other reactions that happen in this unit are the denitrogenation, deoxygenation
and demetallation reactions mentioned above in the HCU. The excess hydrogen is
separated from cooled products in a high pressure separator drum, which is recycled back
to the reactor. Hydrotreating is used to improve the burning characteristics and enhances
the smoke point, providing cleaner compounds. The GOHDS unit produces premium
high speed diesel, where HSD with a sulfur content of about 0.5% is inputted to yield
diesel with sulfur less than 50ppm in order to meet the specifications of Euro 3 and Euro
4 levels. KHDS unit, on the other hand, takes in kerosene and produces ATF. Aviation
Turbine Fuel (ATF) is kerosene with special characteristics. ATF is produced by
removing surfactants, water, mercaptans from kerosene in KHDS and the Merox units.
Isomerisation is a chemical process where one molecule is transformed to another
with the same molecular formula but with a different arrangement of the atoms. The
objective of this unit is to produce high octane, low aromatic gasoline. This product is
more commonly known as isomerate. The main difference between this unit and the CCR
is the aromatic content. Aromatics containing benzene rings need to be limited since
benzene is highly carcinogenic. The main reaction of the isomerization unit is to convert
the straight chain paraffins to their branched chain counterparts since more clustered
atoms add to a higher octane level. The reaction that happens is:
n-paraffins isoparaffins (Eg: n-butanes isobutanes; n-pentanes isopentanes)
The product stream is then sent to the gasoline blending section to blend with
gasolines from other units with different properties in order to meet the stipulated
requirements. The isomerate can also be sent to the CCR unit if more aromatic
conversion is necessary.
Bitumen/Asphalt is categorized into four types: Straight run, blown, cutback and
1. Straight run bitumen is a black/dark brown high viscous solid material. Flashing
at very high temperatures of the vacuum residue is required in order to produce
this bitumen. There are two major characteristics of bitumen:

Softening point: It is the temperature at which an object with a standardized weight and
shape will start to sink into the asphalt. Common practice is to use steel balls, which is
what MRPL follows. Commercial softening points range from 80-340F.
Penetration: Hardness of asphalt once load is applied. The range is from 0 (very hard)
250 (very soft)
2. Blown bitumen is produced by blowing hot air into softer grades of the asphalt
causing a chemical reaction yielding more rubbery and harder asphalt.
3. Cutbacks are yielded from the addition of a thinner to the bitumen in order to
reduce the temperature requirements giving softer asphalt. However after asphalt
has been applied the thinner/diluent evaporates yielding a hard, durable asphalt.
Examples of the diluent include Naphtha (for rapid curing) and kerosene (for
longer curing). Cutbacks can be problematic however, due to air pollution caused
by the evaporation of the diluent.
4. Emulsion is a mixture of 50-70% bitumen and 30-50% water. The mixture
remains mixed with the aid of an emulsifying agent, like soap. Due to the high
cost of this agent though, it comprises about only 1%. Emulsion is similar to
cutbacks where the water evaporates after application leaving hard asphalt behind.
MRPL only produces straight run and blown bitumen. However, they are looking into
advantages and basics of producing emulsion asphalt. The blown bitumen is produced in
this Bitumen Blowing Unit (BBU). Air is blown through the molten feed, which is the
vacuum residue via an air distributor at the bottom of the column.
Recovery of H2S gas is mostly done by solvent extraction using diethanolamine
(DEA). The Sulfur Recovery Unit (SRU) does not necessarily make a profit, since sulfur
is not such a valuable product. But it is necessary due to the very strict environmental
regulations these days and since H2S is a highly poisonous and flammable gas, it needs to
be eliminated. Hence, all the H2S formed from all the hydrotreating units and as
byproducts in any other units is converted to solid sulfur. Sulfur recovery efficiencies
generally range from 95-98% based upon the feed composition and plant configuration.
MRPL follows the Claus process, which is the most significant gas desulfurizing process.
The Claus process can be divided into a thermal and a catalytic stage. Some of the
Hydrogen Sulfide in the feed gas is thermally converted to SO2 and sulfur in the reaction
furnace, which is the thermal stage. In the catalytic stage, the remaining H 2S reacts with
the SO2 to form sulfur in the element form. These reactions are illustrated below:
2H2S + 2O2 SO2 + S + 2H2O (thermal stage)
2H2S + SO2 3S + 2H2O (catalytic stage)
Most refineries, including MRPL, store and ship the molten sulfur formed. The
sulfur can be indefinitely stored in a dry state called a pile. MRPL stores this pile in an
area called the sulfur recovery pit. Sulfur has wide applications, including manufacturing
sulfuric acid, cosmetics and fertilizers, to name a few.
The removal of H2S, mercaptans and other sour gases is essential, as mentioned
before. These gases are removed by dissolving them in amine solvents, referred to as

sweetening processes, since the products no longer contain the foul odors of the sour
gases. Most common solvents used in refineries are alkanolamines such as
monoethanolamine (MEA) and diethanolamine (DEA). The Amine Treatment Unit
comprises of an absorber and a regenerator section. In the absorber, the solvent and sour
fuel feed flow in countercurrent directions. The solvent dissolves the sour gases from the
fuel and exits from the bottom which goes to the regenerator section. In the regenerator
section the H2S and sour gases are stripped and thus lean (H 2S-free) amine is produced
from rich (H2S-heavy) amine.
Sour Water Stripper (SWS) is another treatment unit which treats sour water
coming from all the units. Water is primarily used to dissolve ammonia, which is a very
good absorbent in water. However some H2S also dissolves. To treat the water from these
two compounds, the SWS system is designed. The SWS section can either function using
low pressure steam or a steam fired reboiler as the heat source. The ideal pH for stripping
H2S is below 5 while the optimum pH for stripping ammonia is above 10. Hence to
compensate for both these pH values, the typical pH of the steam ranges from 8 to 10.
The main source of hydrogen is the CCR unit. However since that H 2 amount is
not sufficient to run the entire refinery, MRPL generates that extra H 2 from a hydrogen
plant. A possible solution of generating H 2 is through the Steam Methane Reformer
(SMR) mechanism. However methane being a natural gas is very hard to obtain. Hence
many refineries, such as MRPL, have opted for the Steam Naphtha Reformer (SNR). The
sweet naphtha entered into the system undergoes cracking producing various different
olefins along with methane and hydrogen. The reactions that methane undergoes are the
same as those that occur in the SMR, which are:
CH4 + H2O CO + 3H2 (Reforming reaction)
CO + H2O CO2 + H2 (Shift Conversion Reaction)
Furnace oil is an important utility in the refinery. It is also referred to as number 2
fuel, distillate fuel, two oil or fuel oil. It is the most popular petroleum heating oil. The
reasons for using furnace oil include: carries more heating capability than lighter
hydrocarbons (LPG, naphtha and kerosene), cheaper to transport than LPG/natural gas
since pressure equipment is not required, not as susceptible to accidental/explosive
ignition as naphtha, easier to burn than residual fuels since they dont have to be heated
before injecting into the fire box and easier to render pollution-free than residual fuels
due to less complex chemical constituency. Two important parameters are the flash point
and the pour point. Flash point is the lowest temperature at which enough vapors form a
combustible mixture. It measures volatility and inflammability and set to a specific safety
limit. Pour point is the ability of a petroleum product to flow at low temperatures. It is
normally 5F higher than the temperature at which the oil stops flowing. In MRPL, for
every 100 metric tons of fuel oil produced, 7 metric ton is used for heating purposes.
Hence 7% is consumed for personal use.
The units present in MRPL are summarized below:

2 Crude Distillation Units (CDU)
2 Vacuum Distillation Units (VDU)
2 VisBreaker Units (VBU)
2 HydroCracker Units (HCU)
2 Continuous Catalytic Reformer units (CCR)
2 Hydrogen plants
1 Gas Oil HydroDeSulfurization (GOHDS)
1 Isomerization unit
3 Sulfur Recover Units (SRU)
The important utilities required, without which a refinery cannot run are:
1. Steam:
Low Pressure (LP 4-5kg/cm2)
Medium Pressure (MP 13-17kg/cm2)
High Pressure (HP >40kg/cm2)
2. Power Energy requirement
3. Water
Utility Water
Demineralised water (DM water- upon removal of all metals and salts )
4. Nitrogen: Important in purging and evacuation of hydrocarbons especially during
5. Air:
Normal air
Instrument air (dry and moisture free present in all pumps and valves)
6. Flushing oil (LGO)
7. Fuel Oil (FO)
8. Fuel Gas
Other than all the above mentioned units there are many other equipment used
such as pumps, compressors and valves.
Pumps & compressors: Pumps are designed to handle liquids, while compressors
generate pressure for gas streams. Pumps and compressors are of two types: centrifugal
and reciprocating. Centrifugal pumps impart pressure to the fluid by generating kinetic
energy using impellers. Reciprocating pumps, meanwhile, develop pressure head by the
linear movement of a plunger acting on the fluid to transfer it to various heights.
Centrifugal pumps can pump large volumes of fluid but develop very low pressure heads.
Reciprocating pumps handle lower volumes can generate higher pressures.
Control Valves: MRPL follows two color codes for all its valves: Red Valve:
Automatically stops flow during failure/excess flow (most valves). Green Valve:
Automatically starts/continues flow even during failure (eg: heaters). The other
characterization of valves is Gate, Globe and non-return. Gate Valve (A.K.A on-off
valve): Either allows complete flow or stops all flow. It is comprised of a rectangular
plate to stop the flow. Globe Valve: Shaped as a globe, this valve permits only the desired

level of flow, whether it is 50%, 10% and so on. Non-return Valve: This valve allows
flow in only one direction.
Steam Droplet Collector: Steam travels long distances, via pipes, from its main source,
the steam generation plant. After certain distances, the temperature drops and steam
condenses. This water needs to be removed from the pipes to avoid disturbance and faster
condensation rates and is collected in this steam collector bucket.
Steam trap: The steam trap ensures none of the steam is lost by opening the tap to the
steam droplet collector when the steam is in liquid form and closing when steam in the
vapor form is present.
Heat Furnaces: There are four types of drafts used in industrial systems:
Natural Draft: It is a draft based on the chimney process with no external source of heat.
Instead, it is based on the density difference between hot gas in the chimney and the air
Forced Draft: Draft system that uses a centrifugal fan to deliver air to the furnace and
provide heat.
Induced Draft: A centrifugal fan is used to draw air from the furnace and ensures
combustion air flows through the system.
Balanced Draft: This draft is a combination of the forced and induced draft systems.
MRPL employs only natural and balanced draft heaters. These drafts work at
negative pressure, which is pressure slightly below atmospheric pressure. The heaters,
due to their high temperatures, experience convection and radiation zones which act in a
countercurrent manner to each other.
There are many other types of equipment, which will not be covered here. To
maintain all these equipment, MRPL has setup two workshops: instrumentation and
mechanical. The four primary parameters that need to be measured and controlled are:
Pressure, Temperature, Flow and Level. To measure these parameters field instruments
are used. Field instruments comprise the valves, sensors and other instruments mentioned
above. To measure the field instrument a pre-calibrated test instrument is used. These test
instruments are measured using a master instrument, which are subsequently compared to
reference values from Cochin. The Cochin values are referenced with measurements in
Delhi and so on and so forth. In this way, the instruments are measured against national
and international standards. Master instruments are tested once in three years, while the
field and test instruments are tested every year. In total, 48 test instruments are tested in a
given calendar year. The accuracy limit of the field instrument is 1%, that of the test
instrument is 0.5% and that of the master instrument is 0.1%. Thus, the role of the
instrumentation workshop has been identified.
MRPLs mechanical workshop is divided into Heavy Equipment, Machining and
welding & fabricating. MRPL uses two types of welding processes: Sheet Metal Arc
Welding (SMAW) and Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG). Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding is not
done here. Arc welding is a manual welding process which uses a consumable electrode
coated with a purifying agent, known as flux, to lay the weld. TIG is an arc welding
process using a tungsten electrode to produce the weld. MRPL uses the following
materials along with corresponding grades: Stainless Steel (304, 308, 316, and 347),
Alloy (P5, P9, P11, and P22), Carbon steel and Inconel. These materials are cut to the
desired and shape using two methods: Plasma Cutting for stainless steel and DA cutting
(oxygen with Acetylene cylinder used due to its ability to achieve high temperatures)

for alloy and Carbon materials. MRPL has 3 qualified welders and 2 fabricators. The
welders are qualified by completing the Indian Reboiler Welding Course (IRWC) from
Bangalore. In the machining section, MRPL uses various machines to cut the material to
the desired shape and size. These are: Hydraulic Hacksaw Machine, Drilling Machine,
Boring Machine, Hot Tapping Machine, BFW Milling Machine, Tool and Cutter Grinder,
Grinding Machine, Lathe Machine, Slotting Machine and Shaping Machine. The heavy
equipment of MRPL contains 4 cranes (240, 150, 40 and 20 tons), tractors, forklifts and 3
Hydra (5, 8 and 12 tons).
2 types of equipment inspections occur in MRPL: predictive and preventive
maintenance. Predictive maintenance (a.k.a condition based maintenance) is an activity
that attempts to predict when a unit should be shut down for maintenance, in order to
prevent a failure. Preventive maintenance is a maintenance performed at predetermined
intervals intended to reduce the probability of an item not meeting an acceptable
condition. There are totally around 3000 equipments in phase 1 and 2 combined and
another 2000 coming up in phase 3. All of these have to undergo the maintenance
program with the frequency depending on how critical the equipments are. Critical
equipments, those which do not have a standby, have vibration measurements taken every
week. Semi-critical and noncritical equipments have vibration measurements taken every
15 days.
Oil Movement and Storage (OM&S) unit becomes a vital function in the refinery due
to the handling of large quantities of oils. Storage is necessary to accommodate
intermediate, finished products and crude. Three types of storage tanks are used based on
the material being collected:
Fixed Roof Tanks: These tanks are used to store products of low volatility. The
products are Kerosene, Diesel and Residual Crude Oil.
Floating Roof Tanks: Floating roof tanks are used for storing products with high
vapor pressure. These products cannot be stored in fixed roof tanks due to higher
pressure and hence, greater evaporation loss. The roof rises and falls based on the
liquid level in the tank. One issue with this tank though, is that rain water and
snow can accumulate on the roofs sinking them in. All crude and light products
are stored in this type of tank.
Floating cum Fixed Roof Tanks: These tanks are designed to store light products,
while ensuring rainwater is not allowed. These tanks are used to store ATF,
Reformate, etc.
Horton Spheres: These spherically shaped pressure vessels are used to store LPG,
which is an extremely volatile product. The use of spheres in eliminating corners,
which would be the lowest pressure points.
Oil is transported either using pipelines or transferred in bulk in trucks. Pipelines can
be connected to either ships, other pipelines or connected to the oil marketing companies.
In fact, there is a pipeline connecting to Bangalore transferring MS at a rate of almost
500m3/hr. Pipelines will transfer the oil straight from the storage tank units. In the
marketing department, on the other hand, trucks are loaded in bulk quantities. There are

two sections in this department with two different loading areas. The first section
contains 6 bays for MS, Mixed Xylene, ATF and Naphtha. 11 bays are present in the
second section used to load various different grades of bitumen and fuel oil. MRPL
however, has not developed its marketing department to a great extent, with a small area
for truck loading. Hence, they are planning to build a larger and superior marketing
department with more than 20 bays in one area. One of the bays used currently now
transfers crumb rubber modified bitumen (CRMB). This specialized bitumen is used for
airport roads, which requires greater withstanding of friction and needs to be harder.
CRMB is made by mixing a small amount of rubber and MRPL uses Tinna Bitumen
Modifier (TBM). Bitumen can be filled directly into the truck or filled into drums,
transferred to different areas. On an average 3000 drums can be filled in a given day, but
this rate depends on bitumen demand. This section holds a heater in order to constantly
reheat the bitumen, which will stop flowing due to high viscosity under cool
temperatures. The Marketing department is computerized by the Truck Automation
System (TAS). The truck that needs to be loaded is weighed before and after the product
has been filled and compared with the sensor that is administered by the TAS software.
MRPL has a well made laboratory with imported equipment mainly from France
and other European countries. A large investment has gone in to make this lab which is
worth more than 35 crores rupees. The Laboratory is extremely essential to ensure the
quality of products meet the customer and environment requirements. There will be many
instances where the product will not meet the specifications and the entire product
produced in that unit will have to be reprocessed in the necessary unit. Since MRPL
functions round-the-clock 365 days in a year, the products need to be tested regularly too.
Products in high sensitive areas are checked twice a day, while those in low sensitive
areas are checked once a day. ATF, being highly sensitive, is tested every four hours and
if it fails to meet the requirements it will be dumped in to the kerosene unit. The unique
property of crude though, is that there are no major changes of properties and hence
testing of crude is done only once in three years. The properties will also not need to be
evaluated since they will already be provided in an assay given by the company that
supplies the crude.
The lab also has an expensive imported test engine, which simulates the car
engine. This engine tests the RON and MON and the cetane number for both diesel and
Motor spirit. A mini distillation column is also present in order to distil crude and obtain
the boiling cuts of the various products. This experiment is known as the True Boiling
Point Distillation and used occasionally. There are numerous other distillation columns
for conducting distillation of the various other products along with an expensive vacuum
distillation column, in order to simulate distillation in vacuum. Some of the specifications
of the various products are given below. These specification values are from the 2011
M.S B.S III (Bharat Stage 3)
Density @ 15C, kg/m3

Minimum 91


Sulfur, % weight
Lead Content, % Volume
Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) @ 38C, in kPa
Vapor Lock Index
Benzene Content, % Volume
Olefin Content, % Volume
Aromatics Content, % Volume
Distillation, Recovery upto 70C, % Volume
Distillation, Recovery upto 100C, % Volume
Distillation, Recovery upto 150C, % Volume
Distillation, Final Boiling Point, C
Distillation, Residue, % Volume
Density @ 15C, kg/L
Distillation, Recovery below 200C, % Volume
Final Boiling Point, C
Flash Point, C
Smoke Point, mm
Sulfur, % Mass
Burning Quality, char value, mg/kg

Minimum 81
Maximum 0.015%
Maximum 0.005%
Maximum 60
Maximum 750 for 695 for summer
Maximum 1%
Maximum 21%
Maximum 42%
Minimum 75%
Maximum 210
Maximum 2%
Minimum 20%
Maximum 300
Minimum 35
Minimum 20
Maximum 0.25%
Maximum 20



Density @ 15C, kg/m3
Kinematic Viscosity, CST
Cetane Number
Flash Point, C
Sulfur Content, mg/kg
Water Content, mg/kg
Ash percent, %
Distillation, Recovery upto 360C, % Volume

Minimum 91
Minimum 51
Minimum 35
Maximum 350
Maximum 200
Minimum 95%


Fuel Oil (380 CST)

Density @ 15C, kg/L
Kinematic Viscosity, mm2/s
Ash Content, % mass
Sulfur, % weight
Vanadium, mg/kg(ppm)
Sodium, ppm

Maximum 0.9900
Maximum 380
Maximum 0.10%
Maximum 4%
Maximum 200
Maximum 100


Water Content, % Volume
Flash Point, C
Pour Point, C
Asphalt, % Mass

Maximum 1%
Minimum 66
Maximum 20
Maximum 14%


Density @ 15C, g/mL
Flash Point, C
Penetration @ 25C, 100g, 5 sec, 0.1mm
Softening Point, C

No requirement
Minimum 220
Minimum 47


ATF (Jet A1)

Particulate Contamination, mg/L
Acidity Total, mg KOH/gm
Aromatics, % Volume
Sulfur Content, % weight
Flash Point, C
Freezing Point, C
Smoke Point, mm
Electrical Conductivity, pS/m

Maximum 1
Maximum 0.015
Maximum 25%
Maximum 0.30%
Minimum 38
Maximum -47
Minimum 19


Treated Effluent
Sulfide Content, mg/L
Oil & Grease Content, mg/L
Phenols Content, mg/L
Dissolved Oxygen Content, mg/L
Suspended Solids Content, mg/L

Maximum 0.5
Maximum 5
Maximum 0.35
No requirement
Maximum 20


Mixed Xylene
Density @ 15C
p-Xylene, % weight
Ethyl Benzene, % weight
Toluene, % weight
Non aromatics, % weight
Sulfur Content, mg/kg
Dry Point, C

No requirement
Minimum 18%
Maximum 20%
Maximum 0.5%
Maximum 2%
Maximum 1
Maximum 143


Pour Point, C

Maximum 60


Flash Point, C
Kinematic Viscosity, CST
Sulfur Content, % weight
Water Content, % Volume
Ash Content, % Mass
Acidity, % Volume
Sediment Content, % Mass

Minimum 66
Maximum 100
Maximum 1%
Maximum 1%
Maximum 0.1%
Maximum 0.25%


Some of the important properties for the various different products have been listed
above in the tables. To measure these properties and others not listed here, multiple
different experiments are available with most of the experiments not requirement too
much manual calculations and work. This is because all the experiments are digital along
with the facility to work with a program known as the Herzog software. There are more
than 50 experiments conducted at different frequency levels in MRPL. Some of these are
listed below along with their significance:

Anton Paar Measurement: Density is automatically calculated using an automated

instrument known as Anton Paar. The sample amount and temperature is inputted,
but standards require the density to be provided at 15C. This will automatically
be calculated by the Anton Paar equipment. Density calculations are extremely
important in calculating mass of product.
Viscosity: Viscosity is measured by using various different types of viscometers.
Viscosity calculations are necessary in order to determine if the product will flow
or not.
Sulfur: Sulfur is an extremely important property to test for and meet the
environmental specifications. There are several experiments to test for sulfur. One
of it is the X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) method which calculates sulfur ranges
from 0.02% to 5%. The sample is placed in a beam emitted from an X-ray source,
which accumulates the count and illustrates the sulfur content. Another method is
the bomb method which calculates sulfur content of more than 0.1% in products
like diesel and fuel oil. The sample undergoes complete combustion in oxygen
which converts the sulfur to sulfur dioxide and upon further subjection converts to
sulfur trioxide. The sodium trioxide then forms sulfuric acid estimated
gravimetrically and reported as % weight. A third method is the lamp method
which calculates sulfur concentrations from 0.01% to 0.4%. The sample is burned
in an enclosure and the oxides formed are oxidized to sulfuric acid with the help
of H2O2. The sulfuric acid then undergoes titration to determine the sulfur
Flash Point: Flash point, as defined before, is the lowest temperature at which
sufficient vapors form a combustible mixture. MRPL follows two methods for this
test: Abel and Pensky-Martin Closed-Cup (PMC) method. The abel method is
used for materials with flash points below 70C and those above that temperature
use PMC method. This experiment determines the flammability of the material
and ensures that it meets the fire and safety regulations.


Pour Point: Pour point is the lowest temperature at which the oil is able to flow
and is expressed as a multiple of 3C. MRPL follows two types of instruments:
One that works on tilting the sample in a cup and observing if liquid pours, which
is the manual method. The other process functions by blowing air onto the liquid
and determines if a disturbance at the top of the liquid is observed, which are
sensed by optical detectors. This is the automatic method. This test indicates the
conditions the material should be stored in.
Smoke Point: This is the maximum height of the flame, in millimeters, ATF and
kerosene samples burn without smoke. The sample is burned in a standard lamp
with a graduated millimeter scale on the back to measure the flame height. The
smoke point indicates the properties, such as the aromatic content, of the fuel.
Freezing Point: It is the lowest temperature at which ATF remain free of
hydrocarbon crystals, which are formed on cooling. These crystals restrict the
flow of the ATF and can create issues for the aircraft. The sample is cooled until
formation of crystals and then warmed up with temperature at which the crystals
disappear reported. This is an extremely important specification for aviation fuels
which could form crystals during prolonged cold soaking at high altitudes. Under
these conditions the crystals should not restrict the flow of the fuel and hence, the
importance of the test.
Penetration: This test determines the hardness of the bitumen and is measured by
piercing the needle into the bitumen material under the standard conditions of
100gm load, time of 5 seconds, and temperature of 25C and measured to the
nearest 0.1mm. Based on these tests the grades of bitumen are provided. MRPL
produce three different grades of bitumen: 30/40, 60/70 & 80/100.
Softening Point: This is temperature at which a standardized material, specifically
the steel ball, which starts to sink into the bitumen. The softening point measures
the consistency and hardness of the bitumen similar to the penetration. The
temperature reported is when the steel ball touches the bottom plate.

These are some of the important tests done along with their respective significances.
However, there are a number of other tests done not provided here. The laboratory has
also just setup a Research and Development (R&D) section 1 year back, which is in its
initial stages. Currently this department is looking at prospects in bitumen emulsion and
polymer added bitumen. They are also analyzing surrounding ground water and
attempting to purify it to drinking water.
Table 4. MRPL Customers List
Domestic & Exports
Motor Spirit
OMCs, Mauritius & Exports
Domestic, Mauritius & Exports

OMCs, Mauritius & Exports
Domestic, Mauritius & Exports
Domestic Road Contractors like PWD
OMCs (Oil Marketing Companies) Include Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited
(HPCL), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) and Indian Oil Corporation
Limited (IOCL).
Marketing is done by these OMCs. Transferring of oil is easy to these companies
through pipeline since they are next door to MRPL. MRPL also sends some of its oil to
Mauritius, which is a three year term. The amount send to Mauritius, in Thousand Metric
Tons TMT), is:
Motor Spirit: 125TMT
FO: 480TMT (2 grades: 180CST, 380CST)
Bitumen Demand is variable and depends on bitumen demand, which is usually
peak in summer time. Bitumen is sold to road contractors like PWD (Public Works
Department). Kerosene Demand has been going down and dropped by nearly 20 percent
because villages are developing electrically and hence less kerosene needs to be burned
for electrical causes.
Table 5. Quantity of Products produced per Annum
Amount Product (TMTPA2)
Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)
290 (2.26%)
Motor Spirit (MS)
1010 (7.88%)
1298 (10%)
Superior Kerosene Oil (SKO)
323 (2.52%)
Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF)
1195 (9.32%)
High Speed Diesel (HSD)
5187 (40%)
Fuel Oil (FO)
2192 (17%)
260 (2%)
Remaining Mixed Xylene, Sulfur, etc.
Remaining 9%
All numbers in this table are only approximate values and not exact figures
TMTPA-Thousand Metric Tons Per Annum
Table 6. Applications of MRPL products
Some Applications
Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Fuel Food industry, Glass manufacturing, Cement
manufacturing, Metal industry, Automotives, Aerosols, etc.
Motor Spirit (MS)
Fuel Automotives, solvents, in small appliances like
lawnmowers, cement mixers, etc.
Feedstock for producing gasoline, Industrial solvents, oil
painting medium, shoe polish, fertilizer and petrochemical


Superior Kerosene Oil (SKO)

Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF)
High Speed Diesel (HSD)
Furnace Oil (FO)
Mixed Xylene
Petroleum Coke

industries, fuel for stoves and other applications, cleaning

fluid, hydrogen production, etc.
Residential heating and lighting fuel, Feedstock to produce
ATF, solvents, pesticides, paints, degreaser, etc.
Fuel for aviation industry
Fuel in transportation sector, residential heating, back-up
power generators, extraction agent (high sulfur diesel) etc.
Major heating fuel, fuel for bunkering (ships), feedstock in
fertilizer plants, etc.
Roofing, flooring, paving of roads, hydraulics, etc.
Solvents in printing, pharmaceuticals, paints & perfumes,
electroplating, feedstock for producing meta, para and
ortho Xylene, etc.
Feedstock to produce sulfuric acid and sulfuric compounds
(vast applications), pesticides and fertilizers, hardening
agent for rubber, gunpowder, etc.
Raw material for carbon and graphite products, reducing
agent, fuel, etc.

We all travel in cars or other forms of transportation without paying too much
attention to the fuel that runs the vehicle. MRPL has not only surprised me to an extent
but opened my eyes on the amount of chemistry involved to produce this fuel and other
petroleum products that we use on a daily basis. This report is in fact, only a summary of
the processes that happen in a refinery. There is a great deal of planning and design
development in order to set up the refinery. Not only all of the chemistry involved in this
report, but in order to set up the refinery, various other factors such as business, safety
issues, employment of qualified workers, etc has to be taken into account. For example,
when taking into account safety issues: losses due to 100Nm 3/hr LPG vaporized are Rs.
190 lakhs/yr while losses due to 100 Nm3/hr hydrogen flared is Rs. 1 crore/yr. Hence, the
magnitude of losses and costs are illustrated here.
I have also learned the complexity in simply maintaining the equipment. For
example, on a visit to the Hydrocracker field the Power recovery turbine failed. The valve
was not working and the bearings needed to be fixed. The bearings, which are extremely
small, have to be repaired using lubricating oil and estimate the temperature and this
process takes a minimum of 2 days. Two days, might seem normal for us, however two
days makes a major difference to the refinery with large amounts of products not
produced. Hence, to cover up for these losses, lot of critical equipment are built in
redundancy, where one of the equipments can run if the other one fails.
However all of these requirements add to the costs and that is where the business
model is extremely important to do a cost analysis. Another shocking aspect is that all of
these costs are only around 20% of the costs. 80% of the cost is to purchase the crude oil.
Crude costs so much due to the large investment made in oil exploration where oil has to
be drilled out from deep into the ground. In India there are primarily 4 oil exploration
companies: Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Oil India Limited (OIL), Essar Oil

Company and Reliance industries. These companies can extract around 40 Million Metric
Ton Per Annum (MMTPA). However the Oil refineries in India can process around 140
MMTPA and hence the remaining crude needs to be imported. The refineries are divided
into public sector (IOC, BPCL, HPCL, ONGC-MRPL, and ONGC) and private sector
(Reliance, Essar and Nagarjuna).
This is the big picture of the oil sector in India. Visiting MRPL was extremely
beneficial where I could see the theory I learned in classes in practical applications. The
importance of the refinery was also observed with an entire state of Karnataka and the
entire Mauritius country dependent on its oil from MRPL. I think it was a great learning
experience with a great and accommodating working staff. I would like to thank everyone
involved in assisting me and in conclusion it was a great stepping stone for further
learning in the future.