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Honeywell Unit Eyes India’s $4.3 Billion Effort to Clean Air

  • Refiners in India are under pressure to produce cleaner fuels
  • The shift is making technology providers UOP, Technip bullish

Refining technology companies Honeywell UOP and Technip SA see growth opportunities in India as oil demand booms and the government seeks cleaner fuels within four years to tackle air pollution.

France’s Technip projects as much as 20 percent annual sales growth in Asia’s third-largest economy, while UOP India Pvt., a unit of New Jersey-based Honeywell International Inc., expects an increase of at least 15 percent.

"That’s exciting for us," UOP India’s Managing Director Steven C. Gimre said in an interview near New Delhi on Monday. "We’re in the process of bidding on some projects that are coming up, and we’ve also signed up some projects."

Technip India Ltd.’s Senior Vice President Shekhar Balvalli said India is fast-tracking improvements at state-run refiners so that petrol and diesel comply with a local equivalent of European Euro 6 emission standards by April 2020. While refiners plan a 288-billion-rupee ($4.3-billion) outlay on upgrades, the timeline is aggressive in a nation where infrastructure deadlines have slipped.

“From the context of time, it’s very difficult unless very professionally managed,” said Deepak Mahurkar, leader for the oil and gas team at PricewaterhouseCoopers in India. “They are very, very complicated projects.”

Gimre said UOP is tying up with engineers such as Larsen & Toubro Ltd. to prefabricate the refinery units that state-run companies need by 2020, a model that he argued allows for a speedier shift to making cleaner fuel.

Surpass Japan

India is expected to surpass Japan as the world’s third-largest oil user this year and will be the fastest-growing crude consumer in the world through 2040, the Paris-based International Energy Agency estimates.

The nation’s refineries plan to add over 55 million metric tons of annual capacity at their existing refineries by 2020, according to the annual reports and websites of Indian Oil Corp., Bharat Petroleum Corp. and Hindustan Petroleum Corp. The government has also announced a plan to build a 60-million-metric-ton-a-year refinery on the west coast.

As the same time, officials are grappling with some of the worst air pollution in the world, stoked by everything from tailpipe emissions to crop burning and smoke-stack power plants.

"We’re seeing a big market on the refining side due to upcoming opportunities for BS-VI fuel," Balvalli said, referring to the Bharat Stage VI emissions standards.

The Indian government brought forward the introduction of BS-VI to 2020 from 2024 on increasing concern about the high levels of toxic PM2.5 particles in the air. The benchmark seeks to reduce nitrous oxide and particulate matter such as sulphur.

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