India marks milestone as IOC starts production of reference fuels
Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas of India

India marks milestone as IOC starts production of reference fuels

India has marked a significant milestone in its journey towards energy independence and self-reliance, with the production of indigenous reference gasoline and diesel fuels by state-owned oil Indian Oil Corporation (IOC). This announcement was made by the Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Housing & Urban Affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri, during a landmark event.

Puri highlighted that this is the first time India has ventured into producing reference gasoline and diesel fuels, used for calibration and testing by automobile manufacturers and testing agencies like International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT) and Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), showcasing the country’s indigenous technical capabilities.  

Reference fuels are standardised fuels that are used as a basis for comparison in various testing procedures, particularly in the evaluation of the knock characteristics of motor fuels. They are used to determine the octane or cetane number of gasoline and diesel fuels, respectively.

Reference fuels play a crucial role in ensuring consistency and reliability in fuel testing. By comparing unknown fuels to these standardised reference fuels, researchers and industry professionals can accurately gauge the performance characteristics of various fuel samples.

The minister commended the efforts of IOC’s Paradip and Panipat Refineries and its Research & Development Centre for their dedication in achieving this feat. This development places India among a select group of global players with unique competencies in the energy sector.

During his address, Puri outlined the four-pronged energy security strategy adopted by the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, guided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of making India an ‘energy-independent’ nation by 2047. This strategy encompasses diversification of energy supplies, enhancing India’s exploration and production footprint, transitioning to a gas-based economy, and focusing on green hydrogen and electric vehicles (EVs).

Puri also applauded the efforts of oil companies working under the Ministry’s guidance towards national goals, including clean energy initiatives like transitioning to BS-VI fuels, introducing EV charging stations, and focusing on biofuels, sustainable aviation fuel, ethanol blending, and hydrogen fuels.

The Panipat Refinery & Petrochemicals Complex was hailed as a leader in IOC’s green agenda, particularly for commissioning India’s first second-generation and third-generation ethanol plants. Produced from non-food biomass, second-generation ethanol is produced from agricultural residues (like corn stover and sugarcane bagasse), forestry residues, and dedicated energy crops (like switchgrass and miscanthus). Third-generation ethanol is derived from algae and certain types of bacteria.

An upcoming 10 kilotonne per annum (KTA) green hydrogen plant at Panipat is expected to further boost IOC’s green energy transition.

The Paradip Refinery was recognised for its ability to process 100% high sulphur crude oil and its recent milestone of handling its 1000th vessel at the south oil jetty.

IOC’s Research & Development Centre received special mention for filing more than 1,500 patents and decades of pioneering work. Puri underscored the Centre’s role alongside the Paradip and Panipat refineries in the successful production of reference fuel.

In conclusion, Puri noted the significant progress India has made towards a sustainable future, citing steps like expedited implementation of fuel blending and the introduction of green hydrogen fuel cell buses in India’s capital Delhi. He emphasised India’s growing stature as the fifth largest economy, balancing crude oil prices and harnessing its potential as a key player in the global energy market. Puri also congratulated oil companies for sustaining innovation in their processes and technologies, enhancing their product lines for customers.