First Asian underground LPG storage plan unveiled

India's Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and French oil major Total SA have agreed to form a join-venture company - South Asia LPG Company Pvt Ltd - to set up a 60,000 tonne underground LPG storage facility. The project - the first of its kind in south Asia - will be built at Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh state.

The Rs 333-crore project will involve the construction of the entire subterranean storage facility and would allow HPCL to import LPG in larger vessels of over 40,000 metric tonnes. It can currently handle between 8,000 to 13,000 metric tonnes only.

Total SA was chosen as a strategic partner for its experience in building storage caverns of this type and M/s Geostock are the technical and engineering consultants for the project. Construction should begin next month at the foothills of Dolphin Nose and is expected to take almost three years to construct.

The site was chosen because the state is an important hub for HPCL. It operates a refinery near Vishakhapatnam with a capacity of 7.5 million metric tonnes, an LPG bottling plant and LPG import facilities and a 571 km petroleum product pipeline from Vishakhapatnam to Secunderabad.

Both HPCL and Total SA have an equal stake in South Asia LPG Company.