International Chemical Downstream Conference
The 1st ever International Chemicals Downstream Conference was held on 26th and 27th November at Mumbai. The conference focused on entire spectrum of chemical products based on C1 to C8 chemistry, applications, alternate renewable feed stocks, Logistics of Chemicals and sustainability to enable entrepreneurs and chemical producers to stay ahead in their field and prosper. The conference was very well attended with participation of over 310 delegates from 100 companies and 6 countries The conference had 26 speakers and 6 sessions covering current topics and latest developments in the Chemical Industry. Chemical industry in India is at approximately US $ 130 billion and likely to grow between 12-15 % in next five years or so. The industry produces thousands of end products for modern day living and improves quality of life.
The Conference brought together industry leaders and specialists from all facets of this exciting Chemical downstream sector to share knowledge and provide networking opportunities among the professionals in this fast-growing sector.
Day 1 focused on C1/C2, C3/C4, and EO/PO derivatives and day 2 was devoted to Fiscal aspects of Chemical Industry, Aromatics, Polyurethanes, Bio Feed stocks and logistics for bulk chemicals.
Industry leaders and professionals presented the overviews of specific segments of the industry. This Conference gave a singular opportunity to Chemical downstream professionals to come together and be part of “India Growth Story”.
Special feature of the conference was key note speeches by three eminent persons from the chemical Industry. Padma Vibhushan Prof. Man Mohan Sharma presented the entire chemical canvas where opportunities exist for investment. He emphasised on the value addition to naphtha steams presently being used as fuel which is colossal waste. Presently app 35% on of various streams is being used for fuel. Mr Ramakrshnan Mukandan, MD Tata Chemicals talked about growth with sustainability and to include all stake holders in the sustainability effort including the own company board of various chemical industries. Third Key note speaker Mr. Nadir Godrej spoke in his own inimitable poetic style about sustainability, need of the hour.
According to Mr Roger Lee, MD of Tecnon Orbichem, The chemical industry is going to see lot of developments in C1 and C2 derivatives as low cost shale gas becomes commercially available. Also methanol market is coming back in US due to Shale gas. Mr William Bann, Tecnon Orbichem covered Acetyls. Interestingly, expansion in acetic acid is happening mainly in China and India. Celenese and BP Chemicals have developed new technology for Acetic acid.
Mr R Parthasarthy, MD Thirumalai Chemicals gave an overview of Maleic Anhydride which goes in the Housing, Infrastructure, Automobile and Food Ingredient industry. They have a 120 KTA plant in Malaysia which is a zero discharge plant. A rare example of responsible care. Most producers are shifting from Benzene as a feedstock for Maleic anhydride to Butane but in India butane goes for LPG and not available as a feedstock. Mr Pankaj Mehta, VP R&D, Reliance Industries gave an overview of Acrylic acid, which he calls material for the future. Acrylic acid is input for acrylates and super absorbents, SAP. SAP are the main component for baby diapers and female hygiene products. The penetration of diapers in India in miniscule at just 2% whereas in advanced countries, the penetration goes up to 100%. In India propylene based chemicals are least developed as approximately 98% propylene goes for polypropylene compared to global average of approximate two thirds. Even water based paints are environment friendly which are based on acrylates. Mr Pushp Jain, Director KLJ plastics gave an overview of plasticiser markets which is US 26 Bn globally. The trend in the industry is shifting to non-phthalate based plasticiser which is environment friendly, but in India the shift is slow as Oxo alcohols availability is low, main ingredient for non-phthalate plasticisers. Mr Rajiv Banga, MD and CEO, Mangalore SEZ presented the status of infrastructure development at MSEZ and according to him, MSEZ is just right opportunity to develop C3/C4 through propane dehydrogenation route and enough propane and butane is available there.
As per Mr Roger Lee, Butanediol derivative offer an opportunity for higher margin and higher growth such as polyurethanes, PBT and THF (Spandex). Mr Steve Stillard, VP and MD for Huntsman, Indian Subcontinent covered Amines and ethoxylates. He sees sense of urgency missing in India for cluster development. Execution of Jurong Chemical cluster in Singapore was world class. He would love to see a polyether amines plant come up in India. Mr Rakesh Bhartia, CEO India Glycol has been supplying bio MEG for a long time to Coke for making PET bottles. Bio MEG is based on renewable feed stocks and not on oil. Mr Stephen Pilz, VP, Evonik India shared the hydrogen peroxide based PO technology which Evonik has developed and commercialised. This technology produces water as by-product. He also gave a glimpse of diaper of the future which is under development. Present diapers are 5th generation but they are working on 7th generation diapers. The trend in diapers is making them thinner and thinner.
In the dinner speech, which has become an integral part of Elite Plus conferences, Dr Partha Maitra, President Planning and Business development, Reliance Industry extensively talked about “Verbund”, a German term for total integration. According to him, for success, one can’t have a standalone refinery or a standalone chemical plant. It has to be fully integrated.
Day 2 started off with talk by Mr Partha Bhattacharya on forex volatility. As per him volatility is here is stay and one must learn to live with it, though he summarised the reasons for recent volatility and steps taken to curb it. But volatility will not go. As per him best CFOs are those who don’t care what the Re $ exchange rate is. Mr Prashant Deshpande, Senior Director, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu gave an insight into where we are on GST implementation. Presently we are at constitutional amendment stage. A few things which still need to be sorted out are the treatment to be given to Petroleum Products, Alcohol and Tobacco for implementing GST.
Mr Rajesh Prasad, VP, Aromatics, Reliance Industries covered in detail the Benzene and Toluene scenario in India where total imbalance exists. Benzene derivative market is not developed in India with the result that out of 1.2 MMT production approxi half of it is exported and another million Mts will be added soon to Indian production capacity. On the other hand, Toluene production is just 140KTs and roughly 400 KTs is being imported. Mr MK Joshi, Director, Industrial Chemicals covered styrene and its derivatives. Styrene also is another story of gross imbalance in the country. It’s an intermediate for Styrenics, Plastics and Performance products. Its raw material is Benzene which is surplus. Indian demand is app 600 KTA which is fully met through imports. Mr Rajiv Pandya, past president of ICC gave an overview of Phenol- Acetone chain. India is not self-sufficient even in these products. These are basic inputs for polycarbonates, decorative laminates, solvents and display sign boards.
Ms Gina Fyffe, Executive Director, Integra Petrochemicals presented an overview of butadiene markets. Shale is a big advantage for C1 and C2 but a big disadvantage for butadiene. China is expanding for PBR and SBR. Saudi Arabia is going for ABS which will dry up Saudi exports for Butadiene. On a global scale, a solution needs to be found to meet future Butadiene demand. Braskem is testing bio butadiene. Ultimately on purpose butadiene solution will have to be found which will also set the butadiene floor price.
Another very important downstream product Polyurethanes was covered by Mr Mukesh Bhuta, Chairman, Indian Polyurethane Association. This is a product having various inputs like MDI, TDI, Isocynates etc. and serves the needs of Automobile, Appliances, Construction, Furniture & Bedding, Footwear and Textile industry. The growth in consumption in India had been slow due to high import duty in the initial stages. Mr Roger Lee again covered bio feed stocks in the evening session and outlines the success stories of products in commercial production based on bio feed stocks such as 1,3 PDO, Butanol, Succinic acid and Glycols. He also busted some of the myths associated with use of bio feed stocks. The challenge for bio feed stocks are their competitiveness and availability in commercial scale. Mr Mukund Rao, General Manager, BioAmber educated the delegates with the success stories of BioAmber in Thailand in using bio feed stocks based on renewable resources. Bio Amber is focussed on 4 and 6 carbon atom products. They have a 3000 KTA succinic acid plant in France and scaling it up to 30000 KTA at Canada. Apart from being based on renewable resources, these feed stocks have advantage of stable prices over a very long time horizons.
In the last session on logistics for Chemicals Mr Jayabrata Deb, GM Stolt Tankers outlined the intricacies and regulations associated with Chemical transportation and Mr Parag Gupta, MD, Vopak India, outlined the importance of having strategic tank terminals for trade, Import Export and meeting the regular industry requirements.
Lifetime Achievement Awards has become an integral part of CPMA/Elite Plus Conferences. Lifetime Achievement Awards was presented to Mr Ramniklal S Gosalia who started chemical trading in India 65 years back and at present deals in speciality products of over 20 Chemical producers in India and abroad.
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