Water Sustainability Builds Agriculture, Provides Natural Habitat at India’s Jamnagar Refinery

by Tam Nguyen, Global Head of Sustainability
Oct 24, 2017 9:35 AM ET
Local workers at Jamnagar Refinery

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Supplying More Than Water

Reliance Industries Ltd. and Bechtel developed a system to create the water Reliance needs to run the world’s biggest oil refinery, despite the plant’s location in India’s arid state of Gujarat. The plant also produces enough surplus water to support a 1,600-acre ring of trees and plants surrounding the facility, as well as Asia’s largest mango farm. Without a robust water sustainability infrastructure and system, these improvements and farm would not be possible.

Looking to the Sea

The refinery gets about 44.4 million gallons (168,000 cubic meters) of water per day from treating seawater in its reverse-osmosis desalination plant. Designed and built by Bechtel and Reliance, the desalination capacity for the refinery is about 105 million gallons of water per day.

Nurturing a Natural Carbon Offset

The refinery recycles all the water needed to support its general operations—everything from drinking water and fire suppression reservoirs to removing impurities during the oil refining process.

Some of that desalinated water is also used to irrigate millions of trees cultivated around the refinery’s perimeter that help to offset carbon emissions. The green belt, developed by Reliance, contains more than 200 species of plants, including 3.2 million trees. More than 50 species of wildlife thrive in this ecosystem, including peafowl and other birds, antelope, mongoose, monitor lizards, jackals, and hedgehogs. The green belt alone employs as many as 450 workers including horticulturalists and agricultural scientists.


Conserve Energy

The high amount of energy to pressurize incoming seawater is a key sustainability challenge for desalination. The facility reuses the excess energy from the discharge process to boost the pressure of incoming seawater. This reduces the overall energy needed to pressurize the water by more than half, or about 143 gigawatt hours per year—equivalent to the annual electricity used by roughly 13,200 U.S. homes.