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Indian Oil Surpasses Reliance Industries as Nation’s Top Refiner

Indian Oil Corp. surpassed Reliance Industries Ltd. as the biggest refiner in the country after increasing capacity at a plant in north India by 25 percent to 15 million metric tons a year.

State-run Indian Oil restarted a crude distillation unit at Panipat following the expansion a “couple of days ago,” Basavaraj Ningappa Bankapur, director of refineries, said by telephone today. “We will gradually start all the units and the refinery will start using its full capacity soon.”

The combined crude processing capacity of Indian Oil and its majority-owned unit before the Panipat expansion was 61.7 million tons a year, according to the company’s website. The additional 3 million tons will take the capacity to 64.7 million tons, or 1.29 million barrels a day.

Reliance Industries can turn 1.24 million barrels a day of crude into fuels at its two adjacent plants in Gujarat state, the world’s biggest refining complex at a single location.

India’s crude processing capacity is rising as the fastest pace of economic growth in 2 1/2 years drives demand for fuels to run vehicles and factories. Demand for cars in the South Asian nation may double to 3 million vehicles annually by 2015, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.

Indian Oil shut 6 million tons of capacity at Panipat two months ago in preparation for the expansion, Bankapur said Sept. 22. The refinery could earlier process 12 million tons a year.

Indian Oil may raise capacity at its refinery in Gujarat to 18 million tons a year from 13.7 million tons, Bankapur said Oct. 19. The company is also building a new, 15 million ton-a-year plant in the eastern state of Orissa.

A cracker that uses naphtha from the Panipat refinery to produce ethylene and propylene, which was shut in September, also started operating a few days ago, Bankapur said today.

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