Indian Oil To Sell Hydrogen Plants To Raise Funds
Pedestrians walk along a road past storage tanks in a Indian Oil Corp. facility. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Indian Oil To Sell Hydrogen Plants To Raise Funds


State-run Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. plans to sell hydrogen generating plants at its oil refineries to monetise non-core assets and leverage operational efficiencies by bringing in domain experts, its Chairman Shrikant Madhav Vaidya said on Tuesday.

To begin with, the company will sell its hydrogen generating unit at its Gujarat refinery and based on the experience, may take up units at other refineries, he said.

The sale is part of the asset monetisation agenda of the government aimed at generating revenue from selling to private investors unutilised or part utilised assets.

"These (hydrogen generating units) are already operating units. Now we are trying to leverage the efficiency of operations by handing it over to the licensor of the unit," he said.

Hydrogen is mostly produced from natural gas and naphtha and is used in the processing of intermediate oil products and for the removal of sulphur from refined fuels to meet emission standards.

The sale consideration will be the asset value and the operation and maintenance charge that the new operator will charge from IOC, Vaidya said.

"These units are located within the refinery complex and I will be the only buyer, consumer (of hydrogen)," he said.

IOC will sell 100% stake in the 70,000 tonnes per annum hydrogen generating unit at Gujarat refinery.

"The idea is to get somebody who can operate the unit better. All other units of the refinery are my core business but hydrogen is a utility," he said.

The government has identified assets across sectors that can be monetised for as much as Rs 2.5 lakh crore. Of this, Rs 17,000 crore is being targeted to be raised from selling stakes in pipelines of IOC, gas utility GAIL and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd..

Vaidya said IOC is working on a long-term energy transition strategy, which would involve producing hydrogen in a cost-effective way as well as developing technology to combine compressed natural gas with hydrogen.

India is joining nations like China, South Korea and Japan in speeding up research on how to embrace hydrogen in its energy mix and cut dependence on fossil fuels.

Oil Secretary Tarun Kapoor said IOC plans to set up several hydrogen production units on a pilot basis, testing out different pathways of producing the gas.

Last year, it experimented with doping compressed natural gas with hydrogen. As many as 50 buses in Delhi are being fuelled by the 'H-CNG', which has 18% hydrogen content.

To give a further boost to plans on hydrogen-based mobility solutions, IOC has invited bids to procure 15 PEM fuel cell buses, an effort to address all aspects of the hydrogen value chain.

The idea was to reduce tail-pipe emissions of the buses, but it also resulted in higher fuel efficiency.

India has unveiled a national hydrogen mission to accelerate plans to generate the carbon-free fuel from renewables.

Hydrogen is produced predominantly through Steam Methane Reforming, or SMR, which utilises fossil fuels such as natural gas or coal, and through Proton Exchange Membrane Electrolysis, which splits water into hydrogen and oxygen using a current of electricity.

Currently, all hydrogen consumed in India comes from fossil fuels. However, by 2050, nearly 80% of India's hydrogen is projected to be green -- produced by renewable electricity and electrolysis.

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