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R&D Conclave 2021

The Federation of Indian Petroleum Industry (FIPI) organised the fourth edition of its flagship event, R&D Conclave 2021 in a hybrid mode due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic from 24th – 26th March, 2021 at Shangri-La Eros Hotel, New Delhi, with appropriate COVID-19 protocols in place, with limited physical attendance and a much larger presence on the virtual platform. The conclave witnessed a wide participation of companies across the upstream, midstream, downstream, and technologies domain.

Shri Tarun Kapoor, Secretary MoP&NG graced the inaugural session as the chief guest at the conclave and delivered the inaugural address. Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Chairman, Rajiv Gandhi Science and Technology Commission and Former Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission was the guest of honour and delivered his talk virtually during the session. The conclave was attended by Ms. Vartika Shukla, Director(Technical)- EIL, Dr. S.S.V. Ramakumar, Director (R&D) - IOCL, Dr. P. Chandrasekaran, Director (E&D) – Oil India Ltd, Dr. Ajit Sapre, Group President (R&D) – RIL, Mr S. Bharathan, Head R&D - HPCL, Dr. V. Ravikumar, Head (R&D) – BPCL, Dr. M.O. Garg, President – Refining & Petchem R&D – RIL, Dr. Anjan Ray, Director, CSIR-IIP and Dr. Sanjeev Katti, Director General, ONGC Energy Centre among other eminent personalities and experts from the sector.

The Welcome Address at the inaugural session was delivered by Dr R.K. Malhotra, Director General, FIPI. Dr Malhotra welcomed the delegates and mentioned that this year’s R&D Conclave is being organised in a hybrid format due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He highlighted the fact that climate change and global warming have become very urgent issues at this point of time and needs to be tackled on priority. The R&D community is tasked with the responsibility to integrate renewables into the system and advance towards zerocarbon operations. The R&D segments of all major oil and gas companies in the country are working towards making India’s energy mix greener. India has successfully transitioned to BS VI fuels in 2020, which has been made possible due to the backing of strong R&D work done by Indian oil refining and marketing companies. Many of the Indian oil refining and marketing companies have been able to achieve this transition by making use of indigenously developed technologies. He further stressed that the energy sector presents plethora of opportunities for the R&D sector. The Government is providing many incentives on development of indigenous technologies and their commercialization.

Shri Tarun Kapoor, Secretary, MoP&NG in his inaugural address highlighted the role played by Indians across the world in the R&D field and appreciated the efforts of Indian companies for providing importance to R&D activities. He further said that the R&D community in India is tasked with the responsibility of finding new technologies which would be path breaking and take the country towards energy security. Energy sector is crucial to the economy and any ground breaking developments have the capability of touching billions of lives. He also emphasised the importance of identification of right research areas and sharing of knowledge to give further impetus to R&D activities.

Dr. Kakodkar, in his invited talk, mentioned that India is one of the fastest growing countries in terms of the research publications. However, our ability to convert the research into commercially marketable technology and products is still not comparable to some of the other countries. Some smaller countries with much lower outlay are performing better than us in this respect. He said that Oil and gas sector has heavily invested in R&D for last many years and as an industry has been doing better than other sectors in terms of R&D activities. He further stated that since energy transition is well in motion, refineries should be looked at more from the perspective of petrochemicals business. India should aim to emerge as a net exporter of petrochemicals in the future. In terms of alternative fuels, Hydrogen and Bio fuels have a significant potential for growth in India.

In his special address, Dr Ajit Sapre highlighted the challenge of climate change and stressed on the role that hydrogen can play in decarbonising the energy sector as well as stabilizing the power grid. RIL has been working on the fuel cell technology for past several years, has deployed it for backup power at telephone towers. He said that, India would need the renewable liquid fuels despite the unprecedented push for EVs as aviation cannot be electrified and the fleet will require hydrocarbon fuels which are zero carbon. In this direction, RIL has developed the Reliance Catalytic Hydro thermal liquefaction. This converts organic waste into light crude that can be used directly in combustion, power generation and to make aviation fuel. Dr Sapre stressed on India’s need for taking leadership position in technology development and commercialization.

Dr S.S.V. Ramakumar spoke about the emerging trends in the post COVID world that is in the middle of a historic energy transition towards low carbon technologies. In this regard, the major challenge for India is the CO2 emissions from the power sector. He highlighted the efforts of Oil on carbon capture and utilization, and pursuing all pathways, to move towards a net zero future. The other focus areas for Indian Oil is building sustainable refineries including biorefineries, working on waste to energy and plastic neutrality.

After the inaugural session on 24th March 2021, over the next two days, R&D Conclave 2021 witnessed dedicated technical sessions on various research areas related to upstream, midstream, downstream segments along with discussion on upcoming technologies, which will revolutionize the industry in the short to medium term. Going on with the trend and need of the hour, the commitment of oil & gas companies was clearly visible in their R&D activities with focus on various aspects of energy transition such as efficiency, low carbon technologies, carbon capture, alternative fuels, and energy conservation. For the first time at FIPI R&D conclave, Poster presentations on key R&D topics were made by researchers over the course of three days of the Conclave. The conclave came to its culmination with a panel discussion on ‘R&D and deployment of indigenously developed technologies’, where leaders from various major Indian Oil & Gas companies talked about game changing technologies developed by their companies and their far reaching impact on the sector.

Summary Report

"Technology development will play a major role in India's quest for energy. Govt. of India is also paying a lot of emphasis on indigenous technologies." - Dr. R. K. Malhotra, DG, FIPI sets the pace for R&D Conclave 2021.
"We need to leverage the 4th Industrial Revolution in the post-Covid world by deriving maximum value from all knowledge and accelerating Indian innovation." - Mr. Ajit Sapre, Group President, Reliance Industries Limited
"India has to get to zero-carbon by 2050 which means we have to assign very aggressive timelines to our R&D goals." - Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Chairman, RGSTC
"To promote Waste2Wealth, IOCL is involved in many game-changing technologies.We have developed one of the best bio-methanation technology, that delivers over 80% methane content."- Dr. S.S.V. Ramakumar,Director (R&D), Indian Oil Corporation Ltd
A licensing & supply agreement for the worldwide supply of MadeInIndia Drag Reducing Agents (DRA) was signed today between IOCL and M/s Dorf Ketal on the sidelines of FIPI R&D Conclave 2021.
"Increasing efficiency & cleaner use of fuels are major focus areas for the Govt of India. There's ample scope for all the energy companies operating in India in these fields."- Shri Tarun Kapoor, Secretary, MoP&NG
"Geothermal energy is the lowest-cost energy produced commercially anywhere in the world today." - Dr. Sanjeev Katti, Director General, ONGC Energy Centre
Panel discussion on advances in Refining, Technology & Catalysts
Dr. M.O. Garg, President-Refining & Petchem R&D, RIL hailed the panellist for their in-depth & interesting insights into myriads combination of ongoing & prospective activities on advances in Refining,Technology & Catalysts
Panel discussion on scope of emerging technologies, innovation & way forward for Petrochemicals & Polymers
Panel discussion on advancements & innovation for sustainable use of Petrochemicals & Polymers.
"We need to focus on two 'Es'.One is 'Exploration' & other is 'EOR'(Enhanced Oil Recovery).Unless there is an inter specification in the exploration process,oil reserves for future will not be discovered today"- Dr P. Chandrasekaran, Director(E&D), Oil India Ltd
"The world is going through a transition from a system based on fossils fuels to renewable energy. There has been an expeditious adoption of renewable energy technology during the pandemic"-Mr. Indrajit Barua, ED, Oil India Ltd.
"Refining segment globally contributes to 6% of the total GHG emissions. Carbon footprints reduction in refining sector is important & sooner than later, there will be legislative compulsions for it"- Dr. SSV Ramakumar, Director(R&D), IOCL
Panel discussion on on Biofuels, biotechnologial interventions & methane generation.
"India has a challenging target to meet its energy requirements while reducing its import dependency & transitioning towards cleaner & affordable energy.Gas based energy supported by renewables & green hydrogen will play prominent role in future"- Mr K K Jain, ED, CHT
"All the work done by R&D teams need to eventually be commercialised and roadblocks need to be overcomed"-Dr. R. K. Malhotra, Director General, FIPI.
"For the commercial technolgies in R&D, we must all make consolidated efforts to go local to global."- Ms Vartika Shukla, Director (Technical), EIL.
"There is enormous amount of digital transformation taking place across the oil & gas sector. The pace of digital transformation can be further pushed for greater collaborations" - Dr. Anjan Ray, Director, CSIRIIP
"For most developed countries, Refining has become a sunset industry but it’s not the case for India. Thus we must develop our own technologies to be self sustainable"- Mr. S. Bharathan , Head (R&D), HPCL.