HPL plant running at less than 50% capacity due to naphtha shortage at peril

22-Nov-12
The troubled Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd (HPL) plant is running at less than 50% capacity since September 26 owing to shortage of naphtha, the main feedstock. Lummus Technology, the US-based hydrocarbon technology giant, has cautioned the HPL management for running the plant at a very low capacity. In fact, for the past few days, the plant has been operating at 40% capacity following a shutdown in polypropylene unit earlier this week because of a power trip, as per TOI. The HPL management has taken a decision to run the plant at a less than 50% capacity due to lack of funds amid rising naphtha prices and inventory accumulation. HPL had asked for the views of Lummus as the plant was operating at abysmally low capacity owing to shortage of naphtha and mounting inventory. Lummus in an email replied that it is not right to run a sophisticated plant like the one of HPL at a very low capacity. The turndown capacity of a petrochemical plant is 75% of the optimum capacity. In case of HPL, the full capacity is 240 tons/hour. A petrochemical plant sometimes runs at less than 50% for few days when it starts after a shutdown and requires some time to reach an optimum capacity. HPL had stepped up production to 150 ton/hour in last week of October from just 120-130 ton level. However, owing to the power glitches it has gone down to 110 ton, making it vulnerable to technical faults. Three incidents of power tripping were reported in a week, which had never happened before since HPL has its own captive power unit. This is largely because lack of preventive maintenance.
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