Mr Venkat Pattabathula, CPEng

Global Ammonia Technology Manager,
Incitec Pivot Ltd

Venkat Pattabathula




  • Chemicals, Specialty

Job Function

  • Process & Product Development




•     Bachelor of Technology (Chemical), Osmania University.

•     Master of Technology (Chemical) Indian Institute of Technology.

•     Certificate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA

Current position

•     Global Ammonia Technology Manager, Incitec Pivot Ltd.

•     Joined in February 2004

Professional affiliations and appointments

•     Corporate Member, Chartered Engineer Institution of Engineers Australia.

•     Senior Member, American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE)

•     Member, AIChE Ammonia Safety Committee, USA.

Other training or specialist knowledge

•     Project Management

•     Effective Communication Skills for Technical Professionals

•     Economic Concepts for Engineers and Managers

•     SH&E Leadership

•     Dale Carnegie Course

•     HAZOP  Leader

•     Internal Quality and Safety Auditor

•     Pressure Relief Course

•     Practical Process Control

•     Boiler Operator


•     Manufacturing excellence award for contribution towards process improvements in 2004.

•     Best paper award at ammonia synthesis catalyst development symposium held in China in 2007.


•     Approx. 50 technical papers

•     About 60 articles in fertiliser industry magazines


Venkat Pattabathula

Mobile: +61 401 467 300



Key skills and experience

Venkat Pattabathula is a chemical engineer with about 30 years of experience in technology evaluation, project management, process design, process engineering, plant operations, and process optimisation, plant debottlenecking, process safety, risk and reliability.  

As part of Project Team with Dyno Nobel Louisiana Ammonia (DNLA) project, he was responsible for technology evaluation, performance test runs, and ensuring plant was commissioned with highest safety standards of world scale ammonia project at more than US$ 800 million engineered and built by Kellogg Brown Root (KBR) USA.

He provided process engineering support for commissioning Kellogg Ammonia plants at KRIBHCO in India, an affiliate of SABIC in Saudi Arabia and DNLA in USA. As Senior Engineer he was involved in the investigation and understanding of challenges and developed appropriate solutions.

He has been responsible for economic evaluation and technology selection in plant upgrades and performance guarantees on various ammonia plant related projects.

He has identified and documented Best Practices in the ammonia production processes to achieve world class safety and reliability standards.

Venkat also organized benchmarking studies between various ammonia plant operations and identified performance gaps and supported the line organization in improving production efficiency and optimization of energy utilization.

Venkat facilitated networking among the different ammonia plants across the company and shared learning’s and enhanced plant personnel competency level.

Venkat has provided technical support to all plant operations including troubleshooting and also shared good engineering practices with production units.

As a shift engineer, he was responsible for plant start ups and shift operations in KRIBHCO, India.

Presented several papers at fertiliser industry global conferences and also published more than 100 papers till date.

Excellent interpersonal skills and hands-on mentality.

February 2004
Incitec PIvot Limited (IPL)

Venkat joined IPL  as the Ammonia Technology Manager and later on took the role of Global Ammonia Technology Manager.


·      Provided process engineering support on ammonia-utility related projects from conceptual design to commissioning.


·      Member of the project team of the new world scale ammonia project in Louisiana that included safety & design reviews, modification assessments and pre-commissioning and commissioning.


·      Involved in ammonia plant upgrades by incorporating modern technology design features in two stages which increased ammonia production rates from 800 to 850 tpd and then to 900 tpd.


·      Participated in design reviews, HAZOP and SIL/LOPA Studies of both new and old plants. Closed out actions from design review/HAZOP/LOPA studies in new projects.


·      Applied high emissivity refractory coating on reformer radiant section walls and reduced fuel gas usage.


·      Installed a new hydro-desulfurization unit at St Helens, OR (SHOR) plant and increased plant production rates by about 10 tpd.


·      Technical support in the selection of catalysts and ensured environmentally acceptable catalysts were installed in different plants.


·      Improved secondary reformer burner reliability by installing a new design burner using modern technology at Cheyenne, WY plant.


·      Carried out investigations in the failure of a fired heater and improved the safety & integrity of the equipment with process modifications.


·      Developed ammonia code of practice for all the plants within the company.


·      Improved ammonia plant production rates by about 10 tpd with new axial-radial baskets after about 40 years with old axial baskets.


·      Implemented advanced process control system and improved plant energy efficiency by about 0.5 GJ/t.


·      Facilitated networking among the different ammonia plants across the company and shared learning’s and enhanced plant personnel competency level.


·      Provided technical support to all plant operations including troubleshooting and also shared good engineering practices with production units.


·      Involved in process engineering & plant design activities and plant optimisation projects.


·        Evaluated and suggested improvement projects in ammonia production across the global plants of the company.

·         Took part in the due diligence activities of company growth projects.


·        Established key performance indicators (KPI) for plant operations and rolled them across all the sites.

·        Member of the project team in the relocation of ammonia plant which included safety & design reviews, modification assessments and pre-commissioning and commissioning.


·        Assisted in NH3 tank decommissioning, inspection and re-commissioning project.


·        Maintained HSE standards per company’s global corporate vision of “Zero-Harm”.


·        Conducted training courses for plant operating teams in the operation of amine system.


·        Took leadership role in ensuring the project team and engineering consultants adhere to Safety in Design and Catastrophic Risk Management processes.


·        Presented many papers at international symposiums on the process technology improvements.

2000 to Jan 2004
agrium u.s inc.,  Borger Nitrogen operations, tx, usa       

Senior Process Engineer responsible for safe, reliable and effienct opertaions of ammonia and urea plants.

•        Involved in the development and execution of major projects from conceptual design to commissioning of ammonia and urea production units at a world scale facility in South America.


•        Reduced cash costs by employing best available technologies in maximizing plant production rates.

•        Conducted studies for plant debottlenecking and initiated projects to improve manufacturing capabilities.

•        Evaluated various process technologies and incorporated the technologies that improved plant energy efficiencies of ammonia and urea plants.

•        Participated in PHA revalidation of all company’s ammonia & urea plants in North America.

•        Increased ammonia plant production rates by 50 tpd with the installation of a new catalyst support grid system in one of the reactors.

•        Identified an innovative approach in reformer tube replacement and applied latest techniques that resulted in significant reduction in plant capital costs.

•        Improved the reliability of syngas compressor by installing modern design system to reduce vibrations on its discharge piping.

1994 to 2000
incitec ltd, australia       

Process Development Engineer responsible for plant upgrades and process developments of ammonia, urea and CO2  projects.


•        Involved in ammonia plant upgrades that increased plant output, improved environmental standards and reduced energy consumption.


•        Evaluated catalyst performance and installed most cost effective catalysts.


•        Conducted the safety & integrity analysis of an atmospheric ammonia tank and installed overpressure protection system.


•        Improved the recovery of hydrogen rich gas stream with the replacement of membrane separators.


•        Developed operating procedures for new plant equipment.


•        Technical investigation in underperforming ammonia synthesis converters and identified the bottlenecks.


•        Implemented manufacturing improvement programs that reduced variable cost of the product.


1993 to  1994
ICI  australia , Botany, australia      

Project Engineer responsible for several major capital projects which involved energy efficiency improvemet projets on sites at Botany.

Member of steam recovery corrective action team (CAT) and saved about $300,000 per year by recovering steam & condensate. 


1987 to 1993
national fertilisers and chemicals company, saudi arabia

Production Engineer in charge of  ammonia and ures plant opertaions and manufcaturing excellence programs.

•        Deveoped and managed process engineering team for an ammonia-urea project based on natural gas. Project value US$600 million.

•        Involved in the commissioning of an ammonia-urea complex, was responsible for the performance guarantee test run and verification of ammonia and urea plants.

•        Provided technical support for the company's three production facilities, including the ammonia, granular urea and phosphate fertilizer plants.

•        Written standard operating procedures (SOPs) for ammonia, urea and utility plants.

•        Initiated safe operating practices and established risk assessment process to manage emergency shutdown systems (ESD).

1982 to 1987
krishak bharati cooperative limited (kribhco),  india

Shift Engineer, in charge of commissioning and operating of ammonia and urea plants that included catalytic reforming, gas treatment and ammonia storage tanks in a fertiliser company. He supervised 20 operators, and was involved in the process design of the ammonia expansion project.

summary of relevant experience

Process Design and Operation

Reviewed and developed business proposals, feasibility studies and cost estimates, as well as a cost benefit analysis for ammonia-urea projects; debottlenecking projects in Kellogg, Topsoe, Linde  and Pritchard design ammonia plants, and  Snamprogetti and Stamicarbon urea process plants.

Developed PFDs, P&IDs, engineering flow diagrams and interlock logic diagrams for new ammonia and urea projects including ammonia storage tanks and utility units (boilers, water and wastewater systems) and pollution abatement projects. He reviewed and approved P&IDs for ammonia and urea plants, and installed new design reactors in the ammonia plant and reduced the capital cost of synthesis loop upgrade project.

He reviewed/approved process and equipment design /selection, pressure drop calculations, development of process and technical data sheets, heat transfer rating, equipment design, piping and fitting specification. He undertook troubleshooting and debottlenecking in the fertiliser plants and utility units.

Process Safety and Technology

New Ammonia Storage Facilities: Engineered, project manager and commissioned 7 ammonia storage tanks and automated multiple delivery systems incorporating intrinsically safe design principles. The safety features of this system were highly appreciated by safety auditors, insurance agencies, the authorities and customers.

New Ammonia-Urea project in Greenfield site,  South America: Venkat prepared functioanl design speficications (FDS),  technical stanadrds for new ammnia and urea projects. Also developed technlogy   matrix for the slection of process licensor. Involved in risk assessment (RA) of  ammonia storage and distribution facilities. The study recommendations¾such as rerouting relief valve discharges to flares, overpressure  protection systems, access and egress around the equipment, leak prevention techniques using dry gas seals, minimisation of valves and fittings etc. Similar studies were conducted at all other sites of the company. Identified process related risks in opertaing plants and inlcuded it in the global risk matrix of the company from where some of the high ranked risks were eliminated with the implementation of manufacturing  improvent projects.

New Ammonia  project in Lousiana, USA: Involved in the technical evaluation of various ammonia process technologies and participated in all levels of PHA/HAZOP and SIL/LOPA studies. Made recommendations to safety  instrumented system to improve process safety and plant reliability.

Commissioning  Manager for ammonia, urea, anhydrous ammonia storage facilities, flare stacks, water treatment, boilers and effluent treatment plants, and Operations Shift Engineer for ammonia, urea and utility plants.  

He was the plant engineer in charge of operation and maintenance of fertiliser manufacturing plants, involving planned major turnarounds, implementing change management, effecting cost reductions through identification of critical equipment and related material changes.  

Project Development and Management

He developed business proposals for board approval, including project scope, implementation plan, schedule and cost estimates. He was Project Manager for a range of projects, including the development and implementation of a new ammonia storage and loading/unloading facilities. He delivered >95% of the projects on time, budget and specification. He liaised with the technology providers and initiated and succeeded in obtaining development approvals from local and state authorities.


IITKHARAG - 280 (2017)
Kolkata, India
Chemical Engineering
To 1982

Osmania University
Chemical Engineering
To 1980


  • AIChE Senior Member

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