The small town of Digboi in the remote north eastern corner of the country is the birth place of the Oil Industry in India. Digboi Refinery, commissioned on 11th December 1901, is India’s oldest operating refinery and one of the oldest operating refineries in the world. The historic Digboi Refinery has been termed as the "Gangotri of the Indian Hydrocarbon sector.”
Earlier owned and operated by the Assam Oil Company Limited/Burmah Oil Company, it came into the fold of the Indian Oil Corporation Limited by an Act of Parliament on 14th October 1981 and became the Assam Oil Division of Indian Oil Corporation Limited.
Today, with its vastly modernized operations and facilities, Digboi Refinery is an ISO - 9002, ISO 14001 and OHSMS 1997 accredited Refinery, manufacturing major petroleum products and a wide range of specialty products.
The marketing network has also been modernized and strengthened and today, Assam Oil Division is proud that the Charging Red Rhino has made its presence felt in other states like West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Haryana and Rajasthan.
Today IndianOil’s Assam Oil Divison prides in having some flagship CSR projects namely IOCL (AOD) Hospital, Assam Oil School of Nursing, Shikshak Dakshta Vikas Abhiyan, Sarve Santu Niramaya among many other regular socially committed initiatives. The oil heritage of Digboi has been carefully preserved at the Digboi Centenary Museum suitably located around India’s first Oil Well (drilled in year 1889). This caring for heritage project tells the over 100 years old story of Digboi through unique exhibits, equipments, plants and knick-knacks.
In the first phase of the Digboi Refinery Modernisation Project (DRMP), a new crude distillation unit, captive power plant and associated offsite facilities were installed and commissioned. This was followed by the installation of a Catalytic Reformer Unit (CRU) in 1997 and a New Delayed Coking Unit (NDCU) in 1999. Digboi Refinery has thus made major investments in incorporating technologies such as catalytic reforming for the production of “green” fuels and eliminated use of harmful lead compounds in the production of motor spirit. It has adopted the use of the eco-friendly hydrofinishing technology for treatment of wax by installing a Wax Hydrofininshing Unit (WHFU) in 2001 and thereby eliminated the use of acid/earth finishing process. Two more major units will are under commissioned – these are the Solvent Dewaxing Unit (SDU) and Hydrotreater Unit (HDT). On commissioning of these two units, the refinery would be in a position to produce a larger quantity of wax through the SDU and also produce environmentally friendly “green” fuels such as ultra low sulphur diesel. Besides enabling the refinery to produce Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF), the hydrotreater unit will also enable the refinery to phase out the use of toxic sulphur dioxide for refining kerosene.
With an original capacity of 0.50 million tonnes, the Refinery can now process a 0.65 million tons of crude oil. The refinery is accredited with ISO 9002 and ISO-14001 certification, which implies that it uses all possible means to promote environment protection through adoption of proactive pollution control measures. Besides efforts within the refinery, Assam Oil actively promotes environment protection, tree plantation and conservation efforts in and around Digboi and in all other areas where it operates by interacting with local schools, colleges and various social and non-governmental organizations. Digboi refinery is also accredited with BS-8800, a standard testifying to its commitment to occupational health and safety of its employees in its operations.
The refinery presently processes mainly high wax crude (HWC) and a small quantity of medium and low wax crude (LWC). It turns out the conventional products such as LPG, Motor Spirit, Mineral Turpentine Oil, Superior Kerosine, High Speed Diesel, Light Diesel Oil, Furnace Oil, Bitumen, and Raw Petroleum Coke besides producing some speciality products such as Solar Oil, Jute Batching Oil and most importantly Paraffin Wax. In view of its low refining capacity of 0.65 million metric tonnes per annum, Digboi refinery is endeavouring to maximise production of high value speciality products.