Indian Oil aims to restart naphtha cracker by mid-Dec

A man sits outside an Indian Oil fuel station in New Delhi

By Mohi Narayan

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian Oil Corp, the country's top refiner, plans to resume operations at its Panipat naphtha cracker in northern India by Dec. 15, a company executive said on Thursday, after a scheduled turnaround that started in the last week of September.

"After the annual turnaround, we plan to bring it back (into operations) by mid-December," A. S. Sahney, executive director of petrochemicals, told Reuters at an industry event.

The naphtha cracker at IOC's Panipat plant annually consumes about 2.3 million tonnes of naphtha and produces 857,000 tonnes of ethylene.

Sahney said IOC is not planning to cut runs or extend the shutdown of the cracker due to softening regional margins as India's domestic consumption of petrochemicals is rising.

India's per capita petrochemical consumption is about a third of the global average.

Asian refiners have been grappling with poor naphtha cracking margins, mainly due to poor petrochemical demand in the region, especially China.

The cracking margin for naphtha against Brent crude oil however flipped to a premium of $2.15 a tonne on Thursday after being stuck in discounts for a month. [LDIS/A]

(Reporting by Mohi Narayan; Editing by Nidhi Verma and Jonathan Oatis)