PMI India

With an installed capacity of 12 million metric tonnes per annum (MMTPA), the Mumbai refinery of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) is an important contributor to the country's total oil production. So, when it came to upgrading the facility that dated back to 1955, BPCL decided to build a new plant altogether instead of shutting it down for a long period for the extensive revamping.

But that meant executing a large, complex project within the confines of a fully operational refinery. From conceptualization to finding space for the plant and associated facilities, the Crude Distillation Unit-4 (CDU-4) project was a testimony to using innovative methods to overcome the challenges.

The project was completed on 30 November 2015 at a cost of Rs.1,425 crore as against the estimated cost of Rs.1,458 crore, a full month ahead of schedule.

The project team, led by BPCL Mumbai refinery's executive director (projects) M. B. Pimpale, and general manager (projects – planning) L. Ravi, faced a host of challenges.

The space identified for the new plant encompassed the existing workshop complex, fire station and field engineering office. These had to be dismantled to make space for the new plant. The team decided to fully cover the nearby oil catcher to facilitate hot work and other activities during construction.

The challenges at the implementation stage were highly complex. The team devised innovative solutions for these:

Challenges Solutions
Relocation of the existing workshop that supported the 24/7 operation of all the units • Construction of a new central workshop was started at the piping storage area
• As a stop-gap arrangement, existing shops were relocated to different places within the refinery
• A central engineering workshop of 5,800 sqm was integrated in one building
The main civil contractor for the new workshop became bankrupt The project team directly financed the sub-contractors and got the job done
Relocation of existing tanks and pump house In an innovative method, three existing tanks were lifted as single units to an adjoining plot. This process saved 2.5 months of time and Rs. 1.05 crore. In the traditional approach, it would have taken two months to dismantle and 12-14 months to construct
Procurement in the least time possible • Introduced "Dream plan project" with a shorter procurement cycle and faster decision-making
• Empowered project team to take decisions
Mono rail and other structures sprang up near the refinery, making it difficult to transport columns from vendors’ sites • The team decided to fabricate bulky columns at the site
• Availed excise tax benefits despite doing the fabrication at the site, which saved costs
• Huge amount of piping across seven technological structures and connecting the plant to other downstream plants
• Fabrication, safekeeping and erection of 25,000 spools correctly each time
Used RFID technology on the spools according to the isometric/piping drawings to help identify the right spool during piping work
Space for piping fabrication ofnearly 7.5 lakh inch diameter to be completed in 12-14 months A workshop was identified and hired for this job outside the refinery to speed up work

One approach that enabled the project team to squeeze timelines and budget was the modular construction concept for building the steel structures. By directly erecting prefabricated steel structures, the team avoided major structural fabrication work at the site.

Plot clearing activities and construction of new workshops went on simultaneously, enabling the project team to release the plot for project activities in phases.

Civil works for the control room and substation building that started early set the pace for the rest of the project. The control room and sub-station were completed within a year — almost a year ahead of schedule. The control room was used as a site office which allowed the team to monitor the project. The completion of the sub-station building ahead of schedule helped the electrical and instrumentation contractor to carry out the activities fast.

The new plant, completed on 30 November 2015, has several new features such as a liquid ring vacuum pump as against a vacuum ejector to reduce the consumption of steam, a blast-proof satellite rack room and control room, and a fully air-conditioned electrical substation for enhanced reliability.

The plant has been built with the twin objectives of higher efficiency to achieve enhanced profitability and reduced environmental emissions. Some of the benefits achieved are:
  • Fuel consumption reduced by 40,000 metric ton per annum, thus saving approximately Rs.120 crore per annum;
  • Processing of an additional 3 percent vacuum gas oil, resulting in a yield improvement of 200 TMTPA and saving Rs. 197 crore per annum; and
  • Lowering emission levels of sulfur oxides (SOx) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) to 10.44 ton from 12 ton per day.
The team has compiled a "lessons learned" booklet that is considered an important document for the organization. It captures project management knowledge to be passed on to new batches of officers who join BPCL.

After commissioning of the CDU-4 plant, the old crude distillation unit and other associated units are being dismantled. This will create additional space for the Mumbai refinery and help BPCL add new facilities in the future.