* Bathinda refinery expected to get crude by Aug. 10
* Crude processing to begin by mid-August or third week
* All units at Bathinda should be commissioned by Nov (Adds details, context)
NEW DELHI, July 27 (Reuters) - India’s Bathinda refinery will start crude runs in August and all its units will be operational by November, project consultant Engineers India (EIL) said, which will cut the country’s fuel imports and boost exports by private firms.
Refineries from Malaysia and China to India are investing billions of dollars to boost capacity to feed rising regional demand, while counterparts in the United States and Europe restructure or shut plants as fuel sales slow.
EIL had earlier expected the land-locked, 180,000 barrels per day (bpd) plant in the northern Punjab state would start operations by mid-2011.
“The refinery will receive crude by Aug. 10 and then processing will start by the middle or third week. Progressively, other units will also be commissioned by November,” EIL chairman A. K. Purwaha told reporters.
India’s state-run fuel retailers import and buy fuel from private firms — Essar Oil and Reliance Industries — to meet local fuel demand.
India’s fuel demand is growing with the expanding economy, and subsidised prices have sheltered consumers from the rise in international oil prices.
Private refiners, which do not get compensation from the federal government for selling fuel at subsidised rates, prefer to export fuel.
The International Energy Agency in its latest report had said India’s fuel demand may rise 3.8 percent in 2012, led by diesel and gasoline.
India’s current refining capacity is close to 4 million bpd.
The last refinery commissioned in India was earlier this year, when Bharat Oman Refinery Ltd (BORL), a joint venture of Bharat Petroleum and Oman Oil Co, started its 120,000 bpd Bina plant in central India. (Reporting by Nidhi Verma; editing by Malini Menon and Anthony Barker)