We’re in talks with Jindals for Raigarh CTL project
By Siddhartha P Saikia, New Delhi
US-based mid-sized global engineering, procurement and construction firm KBR bets big on coal gasification projects and the proposed coal-to-liquid (CTL) technology in India. Last week, KBR bagged a technology deal for the Rs 3,000 crore sponge iron plant of Jindal Steel & Power for an undisclosed amount. Ron Gualy, vice-president of KBR, talks about the company’s plans for India in an interview with Siddhartha P Saikia. Excerpts:
What is KBR’s deal with JSPL?
KBR has received the contract for gasification project from JSPL for production of syngas for their direct reduced iron production. The first phase consists of three transport gasifiers using high ash Angul coal. KBR will provide basic engineering design, technology license, proprietary equipments and technical services to JSPL. KBR will support the project through its execution and start up providing additional services as required.
How long would you take to commission the plant in Orissa?
KBR will deliver basic engineering design package in around eight to ten months. KBR will then start coordinating with JSPL towards detailed engineering, site preparation, erection of equipment and commissioning. Generally, it may take 2.5 – 3.5 years from engineering to commission the facility of this variety.
Are you also going to join hands with JSPL for its proposed CTL unit in Raigarh, Orissa?
We are in talks with Jindals for their CTL project in Raigarh. KBR is one of the technologies being considered for such project.
What is your outlook on implementation of CTL refineries in India, as the technology has not been implemented in the country as yet?
Due to continuous demand for energy and lack of enough oil and gas resources, owners and technology providers are forced to think and to evaluate different technology options that can produce fuel from alternative sources. CTL is one such technology that customers are considering. There are very few CTL projects worldwide. India can take the lead in this segment of business.
Do you think CTL unit can be economically viable in India?
Based on the current outlook for crude oil price and fuels in India and around the world, there are favourable conditions in India to pursue such CTL projects. Each project needs to be analysed independently and taking into account local and economic conditions. Due to large investments required a proper analysis and gate process is needed to successfully proceed with such project.
India’s energy market is highly regulated. Fuel from CTL refineries would have to be cheaper. Do you think this is possible?
With continuous rise of crude oil prices and partial de-regulation of automobile fuel prices by government, CTL seems to be one of the viable options. Fuels are directly correlated to price of crude oil. Crude oil is projected to remain around $ 100 a barrel. If a low cost feedstock like low rank coal is used, owners can take advantage of the spread in prices making possible for CTL to be competitive.
How important is the Indian market for revenue growth of KBR?
Indian market is growing rapidly compared to rest of the world and KBR being a global company with footprint in India will definitely get benefited in terms of the revenue generation. KBR technology business unit is growing at 25 per cent annually and India is contributing significantly in this growth.
What are KBR’s expansion plans in India?
KBR is building a center that will execute worldwide projects from India. The India centre will deliver engineering and technology packages. At present, KBR has a work force of 80 employees that will grow to 200 by end-2012.
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