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Extracts from Nandini Chemical Journal, Sep 2010

Indian coal|fluorine chemicals|indian urea policy|supercritical power
Highlights of Some of the Articles

TALK OF THE MONTH : NEED FOR GOVERNMENT POLICY FOR FUTURISTIC RESEARCH
PROS & CONS OF OVERSEAS EMPLOYMENT FOR ENGINEERS & TECHNOLOGISTS
SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONES (SEZ): ARE THE EXPECTATIONS MET?
FOCUS ON INDIAN COAL SECTOR : INDIA'S COAL INDUSTRY AT THE CROSS ROADS
INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY IN FLUORINE CHEMICALS : POLYVINYLIDENE FLUORIDE
POTASSIUM CARBONATE : INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
UREA POLICY OF GOVERNMENT OF INDIA : CONFUSED THINKING
SUPERCRITICAL POWER EQUIPMENT POLICY FACING CRITICISMS
INDIA IS NOW TOP EXPORTER OF PETRO PRODUCTS IN ASIA
OTHER FEATURES
OTHER ARTICLES

TALK OF THE MONTH

NEED FOR GOVERNMENT POLICYFOR FUTURISTIC RESEARCH

 Like the market research  to assess the demand supply scenario that any organization would do before creating new capacity for any chemical   product , there is also need to  carry out market research to assess the prospects and the need for any research activity before initiating the same.

While large number of research projects  are being carried out by the CSIR labs and universities and academic institutions as well as private organizations,  there seem to be no careful market research to assess as to whether such research activities would be of relevance to the needs of India from the point of view of its economic and industrial growth pattern. Under the circumstances, many of the research projects end up as mere Ph d thesis work or scholarly papers presented in seminars or published in technical journals.  From the point of view of investments in research, many of such research activities do not provide any tangible benefits for India from the point of view of its immediate requirement.

It is high time that the research activities at any level would be viewed as an investment activity that should be justified from the point of view of the economic benefits that they provide and there has to be a relationship between the economic profits and the rate of returns  vis a vis the investment made  in the research.

The Government of India has a definite and huge responsibility in the matter  and its job would not end up merely with allocation of funds for research purposes and leaving the job entirely to the management of the research institutions.  The choice of subjects for research cannot be made in isolation, without knowing the government’s policies and programmes and  ascertaining the appropriateness of such research activities to the national needs in tune with the conditions prevailing in India.  The research activities need a sense of direction and purpose and cannot be a mere isolated academic exercise.

The Government of India  should identify atleast some areas where research activities should be pursued and completed with clear targets. While many areas can be quickly identified, some of the areas are indicated below as ready examples.

The jatropha  bio diesel industry is facing crisis today and one of the reasons is that  it is not clear as to what we would do with the large quantity of glycerin that would be produced as co product during the trans esterification of jatropha oil, that need to be mixed with the diesel.  There are number of derivative products from glycerin such as epichlorohydrin, propylene glycol and others where no  commercially proven indigenous technology has been developed so far in India.  While the multi national companies have identified this area and has progressed substantially ,India is yet to make a start in a big way.

The fuel from algae is another area with great research opportunities.   With  large sea coast that India is blessed with, there is potential for producing algae in large quantity and algae contains oil, with percentage of oil content much higher than many  agro products like jatropha and corn, from which bio fuel are produced.  Huge research initiatives with millions of dollars of investments have been made by multi national companies like BASF but India is yet to make any worthwhile beginning in this research area of this great opportunity.

Bio degradable polymer such as polylactic acid from starch is another area with enormous research potentials. Whereas organizations like Cargil and many others in developed countries are pursuing research to develop biodegradable polymer with feverish pace, India’s presence in such areas of research are at negligible level now.

Many other areas of research opportunities such as  exploitation of geothermal energy,  gas from liquids and coal etc. are  of enormous potentials for India.

In the absence of any government guidelines with regard to its policies on futuristic research needs  in tune with India’s requirements, the research organisations   and universities in India are not  carrying out any coordinated research  plans and programmes.

It is high time that the Government of India should identify atleast  around 25 to 30 research areas in chemical and allied sector that would benefit India in a big way in future  and  the Government should lay down policies about  its support programme and fund allotments over a period of time.

The government should short list industries and research bodies to carry out such research activities on focused areas and provide them adequate incentives to exploit the profits from successful research pursuits for a specific period.

PROS AND CONS OF OVERSEAS EMPLOYMENT FOR ENGINEERS AND TECHNOLOGISTS

Swaminathan Venkataraman

Director

Nandini Consultancy(S) Pte.Ltd., Singapore

E-mail: swaminathan.v@nandinichemical.com

From professional angle

  • Multinational companies are usually at the forefront of technology creation. Hence working in such an environment abroad is tremendously enriching from knowledge point of view

  • The range of occupations and sophistication of jobs are hard to find in India due to relative gaps in development between western countries and India. Hence if one is well qualified and highly skilled in engineering fields, the jobs that can do justification to the qualification and skills can  only be found abroad

  • It is usually necessary to work abroad if one has to rise professionally in a multinational organization. Professional development happens by working in different functions and in different locations

  • Working with professionals from several countries enhances one's understanding of the ways of working in many countries

  • Networking benefits are immense if one can cultivate professional contacts in other countries

  • If one is working in places like Europe , Japan , Korea , there is an opportunity to learn a foreign language which could be of great value in doing business with those countries. They usually value the ability to converse in their own native language

  • Western nations are usually more resourceful, organized and professional and Indians can do very well taking advantage of sophisticated and organized working environment , as Indians are trained to produce in a resource scarce and often nearly chaotic working conditions.

From personal angle

  • Working and living in a different country is a great opportunity for personal development by observing different cultures. Travel makes one wiser with experience

  • Working abroad could be financially remunerative atleast in the short run as many jobs tend to pay better abroad

NEGATIVES OF OVERSEAS EMPLOYMENT

From professional angle

  • With western economies likely to slow down for a prolonged period in the coming years, it looks like  that industry growth will slow down in those countries making overseas opportunities fewer to come

  • With India growing rapidly, more interesting opportunities are bound to occur in India in the coming years. Already many multinationals are setting up research facilities in specific areas within India itself

  • Closely linked to the economic growth in India professional growth opportunities in the country are also faster. Hence, some professionals could find opportunities in India grow faster than abroad.

  • From time to time , there are specific cases one hears of discrimination based on nationality or race in areas like promotion,  as in some countries or companies there could be a glass ceiling beyond which it becomes harder for a foreign nationality to rise

  • Sometimes it is hard to work in India after working abroad for many years , as the level of professionalism in India can be disappointing after working in more professional multinational setups. Some people find it difficult to come back and work in India and go abroad again in frustration after experiencing poor professionalism in India

  • There are many instances where there is a certain unease with the presence of too many Indians in a particular country  or company abroad (many technology firms in US have more than 30% Indians) and industry(software).

  • In such cases, one can detect a conscious effort to reduce the dominance of people of particular nationality and encourage diversity by not hiring more Indians. That can act as a barrier to career advancement

From personal angle

  • Maintaining a family with children can become  complicated if one is moving  between countries often

  • Cultural integration is important to enjoy a stint abroad , when working in some countries in Europe and Far East. That can be quite tough and demanding on some people

  • Often visa requirements are closely tied to the company one is working for. If one is not satisfied with the job or the company, quitting and moving to another company is not easy like in the case of United States. In such cases, one may have to continue working unhappily in one's job to remain in the country

  • From time to time, there are incidents of hostility from local population to the presence of foreigners. If one is caught up in those situations, then the experience can be very unfortunate.

SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONES : ARE THE EXPECTATIONS MET?

Swaminathan Venkataraman

Director

Nandini Consultancy(S) Pte.Ltd., Singapore

E-mail: swaminathan.v@nandinichemical.com

SEZ scheme of the Government of India have raised controversies and issues and now there is considerable doubt as to whether SEZ have provided commensurate benefits to the country at all.

There is urgent need for the Government of India to review it’s SEZ policy.

Salient features of SEZ scheme in India                                           

*    SEZs are duty-free enclaves and are considered "foreign territories" for the purpose of trade operations and tariffs. SEZs are meant to create incentives for exports through tax-breaks. 

*    Units located in SEZs can import goods without licence or duties.The units located in SEZ are permitted to have unrestricted access to domestic markets and permit 100 percent foreign direct investment in manufacturing.  Profits can be repatriated freely.

*    SEZ units can be developed in the public, private or joint sectors or by the State Governments or any person for manufacture of goods or rendering services or both.SEZ units have to be a net foreign exchange earner.

Sector wise split of SEZ

Sector

Number of SEZ

Pharmaceuticals/chemical

20

Petrochemicals/petro./Gas

2

Beach & mineral/metals

2

Biotech

17

Food processing

4

Agro

5

Agro processing

2

Others

308

Total

360

*    Number of formal approvals for SEZ                   577

*    Number of notified SEZs  in the country             360

Critical view

It was originally expected that SEZ would result in substantial overseas investment and technology inputs from abroad and boost export earnings. But this has not happened to any significant extent.

On the other hand, in some cases, SEZ  scheme have resulted in situation where Indian project promoters have shifted their existing production facilities to SEZ or set up plant facilities in SEZ that could as well be set up in other regions in the country.

There is also an impression that the net benefits of SEZ scheme have not been much different from that of the earlier 100% EOU scheme for all practical purposes.

One of the major issues is acquisition of land for SEZ schemes, as in most cases, the land has been acquired by converting the agricultural land for industrial purposes and many agricultural farmers have been uprooted in the process. There is also criticism that some promoters of SEZ have acquired land far more than their requirement, perhaps keeping the long term real estate benefits in view.

Apart from  the above critical views, the performance of Indian SEZs have been hampered by the following factors

  • Infrastructure bottlenecks –connecting infrastructure like roads leading to SEZs.
  • Long gestation period of 4 to 5 years in the absence of infrastructure development.
  • Inability to enforce labour reforms
  • Inappropriate locations

SEZ in China

In such situation, the comparative  performance of SEZ in China and India would provide appropriate guidelines in evolving the future policies for SEZ in India.

China has been  the pioneer in developing the concept of SEZ and it has successfully set up large SEZs in China, that  provide tangible benefits for the industry and for the overall industrial growth of the country.

The biggest SEZ in China is Shenzhen SEZ.

Broad features of the Shenzhen SEZ is given below:

*   Total Area of Shenzhen – 1,952.84  square. kilometers

*   Area of Shenzhen SEZ -  395.81 square kilometers

*   Harbouring 3.5 million people

*   3 million employment

*   $30 billion in foreign direct investment

*   Exports:  Shenzen SEZ : ~ USD 45bn in  2009          

*   Equipped with the state-of-the-art infrastructure

*   Good port facilities, with efficient performance

*   Simplified procedures

*   Fully flexible labour policy in terms of hiring and firing

Comparison of  Indian and Chinese SEZ experience

 

China

India

Number of SEZ

7

Above 570 approvals

Start date

1980

Mostly after 1991

Size

Very big .. hundreds of hectares

As small as 10 hectares

Ownership

State

Private companies

Land

Coastal land

Fertile cultivated land as well

Location

Located only along coast to facilitate easy exports and imports

Anywhere.

No restriction

Tax policy

Only selective tax incentives

Across the board tax holidays given to companies

Ease of land acquisition

Protests in some areas

Bitter resistance from farmers

The above comparative information on SEZ in India and China readily reveal the fact that SEZ in China have been elaborate exercise with huge size of the facilities and providing excellent opportunities for the multi national companies to invest in the SEZ in China.

On the other hand, SEZ in India are bogged down in several controversies starting from land acquisition. In India, several private companies have ventured to set up small SEZs, which obviously are uneconomic size and are counter productive.

There is strong case for Government of India to decide on the maximum number of SEZs that would be permitted and fixing the minimum size for SEZ.

The government should also examine the feasibility of dissolving some of the SEZ already built that do not meet the expectations and that do not provide  tangible benefits.

There is evidence that Government of India has realized that  SEZ scheme have not moved exactly on the expected line and the government may have to revise its SEZ approach in future.

Such revision in the approach should be done sooner than latter.

FOCUS ON INDIAN COAL SECTOR : COAL INDUSTRY AT CROSSROADS

India is said to rank third amongst the coal producing countries in the world.

However, India is unable to produce coal to meet its requirement. Indian import of coal is now steadily increasing and it is likely to reach alarming level in the next few years, as the demand for coal for use as fuel for power generation would go up substantially.

India is already  dependent to considerable extent on import of crude  oil and natural gas. Now, India is also becoming dependent on import of coal to sustain its industrial and economic growth .

India has become vulnerable to international supply and price pressure for its vital fuel and feedstock requirement.

This article contains the following :

  • Indian demand supply scenario for coal
  • Production  by Coal India Ltd (CIL)
  • India’s coal needs by 2018
  • Indian coal resources
  • Distribution of coal resources and its categorization by state
  • Quality of Indian coal
  • Coal extraction
  • Coal extraction technology used in India
  • Threat of coal shortage
  • Coal India turns importer
  • Revival programme for abandoned coal mines
  • Long term plans of Coal India
  • Participation of private sector in coal mining
  • Development of underground mines by Coal India
  • Development of underground mines by Singareni Collieries Co
  • Plans for mining equipment  project
  • Price volatility of coal
  • Coal based chemicals in India
    • Coal to liquid projects  -  Are we  putting the cart before the horse?
    • Coal based chemicals
INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY IN FLUORINE CHEMICALS : POLYVINYLIDINE FLUORIDE

General Details
Synonym                         PVDF
CAS No.                          9002-58-1
Chemical Formula            CH2CF2
Appearance                     Linear, high molecular mass, semicrystalline polymer
Melting Point                   171 deg.C.

Polyvinylidene fluoride is made up of 59% fluorine, 38% carbon and 3% hydrogen.

The compatibility of the carbon and fluorine is such that it offers resistance to UV degradation and atmospheric chemical attach, which is far superior to the acrylic topcoat.

PVDF  offers resistance to algae and fungal attack.

The membranes made of PVDF have good self cleaning properties and therefore need less maintenance during their lives. These properties combine to give a membrane a life span of 15 to 20 years depending on site conditions.

Chemical inertness
 
PVDF is resistant to halogens, particularly bromine and to weak bases.  It is degraded by fuming sulphuric acid, some strongly basic amines, hot concentrated alkalies and alkali metals.
 
PVDF swells in strongly polar solvents such as acetone and ethyl acetate and is slightly soluble in aprotic solvents such as dimethyl formamide and dimethyl sulphoxide.
 
Mechanical properties
 
PVDF displays superior mechanical properties in tension, bending, torsion and compression. The tensile stress at yield of 54 MPa observed with PVDF is remarkably high for a fluorinated polymer.
 
PVDF retains excellent mechanical properties between 40 deg.C and +160 deg.C. Articles made from PVDF are distinguished by high resistance to abrasion, similar to that of polyamides.
 
High degree of crystallinity allows PVDF to be used upto a temperature of +160 deg.C.
 
This article contains the following details:

  • Product specification
  • Product application
  • Annual Indian imports
  • Pattern of countrywise imports
  • Indian exports
  • Indian supply scenario
  • Indian demand scenario
  • Global scenario
  • Global capacity
  • Global demand
  • Global growth rate in demand
  • Important global players
  • Major producers in China
  • Manufacturing process
  • Technology developments
  • Recommendation
  • top^
  • POTASSIUM CARBONATE – PRODUCT PROFILE
  • Potassium carbonate (K2Co3) is a white hygroscopic, granular odourless powder or white free flowing granules.

It dissolves in water with the evolution of heat. The solubility increases with increase in temperature.
Applications
Potassium carbonate finds applications in the following industry sector  :-
 
*           TV picture tubes
*           Fertiliser industry
*           Pesticide industry - in the manufacture of Quinalphos technical
*           Dyestuff industry - Vat and reactive dyes
*           Drugs and drug intermediates - In the manufacture of bulk drugs like norfloxacin, diclofenac sodium, potassium iodide, sulphamethoxazole, ethambutol, amoxycillin, ampicillin etc.
             In the manufacture of bulk drug intermediate - Isobutyl benzene
   *           Fluorine chemicals - like potassium fluoborate, potassium titanium fluoride and potassium bifluoride
 
Miscellaneous applications like
 
*           Lithium compound
*           Photographic chemicals
*           Glass and lamps
*           Shoe polish
*           Petroleum refining
*           In manufacture of potassium compounds like stearate, oleate and potassium antimony tartrate.
 
This article further discusses the following :
 
·         Indian manufacturers and their installed capacity
·         Indian installed capacity
·         Indian import
·         Anti dumping duty
·         Indian export
·         Demand supply scenario
·         Pattern of application sectorwise demand
·         Global demand supply scenario
o    Global production
o    Global producers
o    Scenario in China
o    Global demand
o    Pattern of application sectorwise demand
·         Process outline
·         Prognosis

UREA POLICY OF GOVERNMENT OF INDIA : CONFUSED THINKING

It appears that Government of India is yet to evolve a coherent policy with regard to it’s approach to the urea fertilizer industry.

This article briefly discusses the following details.

  • Natural gas need of urea units
  • Fertiliser subsidy
  • Less efficient naphtha based plants
  • Decontrol of urea price
  • Revival of sick units
  • Urea investment policy
SUPERCRITICAL POWER EQUIPMENT POLICY FACING CRITICISMS

The Government has envisaged introduction of supercritical power equipment on a large scale in coming years.  Central utilities like NTPC and Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) have been asked to issue tender for bulk procurement of supercritical equipment.  While NTPC-DVC bulk tending for 660 mw units is underway, a similar tender for placing bulk orders for 800mw units is likely to be issued soon.

This article discusses the above issue in detailed manner.

INDIA IS NOW TOP EXPORTER OF PETRO PRODUCTS IN ASIA

According to the data compiled by oil and metal information provider Platts, India's gross petro products exports currently average one million barrels a day, over taking South Korea which exports 0.9 million barrels a day.

This article discusses the above issue in detailed manner.

OTHER FEATURES

COMPULSIVE NEED TO STEP UP

IMPORT OF NATURAL GAS

The need to source natural gas from overseas market is becoming vital, as the government is flooded with request for over 550 mmscmd of gas from power plants alone. One mmscmd of gas is required to produce 22 mw power.

This article discusses the above issue in detailed manner.

OIL SPILL IN GULF OF MEXICO

HAVE WE LEARNT THE RIGHT LESSON?

ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Shell, which are joining together to put $1 billion into creating and equipping a new not-for-profit firm, the Marine Well Containment Company.

The company  is being set up to provide capability to tackle issues relating to oil spill in future . The companies outlined their plans at a public meeting held in New Orleans on August 4th by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

This article discusses the details.

ALGAE BASED ETHANOL – RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

Algenol Biofuels based in Naples, FL,USA  founded in 2006 uses hybrid algae housed in photobioreactors to produce ethanol from carbon dioxide, seawater and sunlight at higher per acre yields and lower per gallon costs than corn or cellulosic ethanol.

Currently Algenol Biofuels is developing a pilot-scale facility at Freeport, TX, and is building a larger R&D center at Ft. Myers, FL. The company is confident it can begin producing ethanol some time next year, making it the first algae-based ethanol in the U.S. market.

  • Agreement with Dow
  • Agreement with Linde Group
  • Agreement with Valero Energy

OPPORTUNITIES FOR INDIAN WIND ENERGY  PROJECTS

According to Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), the predictions of wind power potential in India could be as high as 100 GW on land.

With such enormous potential and with matured technology having modular and low gestation period, the wind power projects also have equitable resources distribution in at least 10 states in the peninsular India.

This article discusses the issues in detailed manner.

PLANT CLOSURES

The article discusses the plans for closure of selected units by the following players

  • Shell's Singapore cracker suffers outage
  • Outages cost Dow $350m in lost sales in Q2
  • Formosa's Mailiao expansion to face delays
  • UNCP chlorchem to stop caustic output
  • Japan PP to shut down two plants in 2011
  • Permanent plant closure - CEPSA Quimica

SAFETY AND ACCIDENT PAGE

Following safety and accident details are discussed:

  • Tank blows up at Chennai port
  • Fire at Yara JV kills two in Libya
  • Explosion at petrochemical unit in Iran
  • Fires hit Formosa’s Taiwan site
  • Explosion kills five at idled Nanjing plant in China

ANTI DUMPING PAGE

The antidumping measures introduced in  the various countries in the last few weeks on the following products are discussed:

  • PVC flex film
  • Viscose fibre and PVC paste resin
  • Polyvinyl chloride paste resin
  • Trichloroethylene
  • Narrow woven fabrics
  • PTA
  • Differences & Similarities Between Anti Dumping & Safeguard Duty

NEWS ROUND UP

The recent developments on the following products/events are discussed:

International

  • Phthalate-free plasticizers
  • Saflex capacity in South America
  • Butadiene rubber

India

  • Indian refractory industry forging ahead
  • Cairn's Mangala field output
  • Shale gas project plans of Oil India Ltd.
  • Huber doubles silica capacity
  • Huntsman buys in India 

TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT

The recent developments on the following technology efforts are highlighted

International

  • New oil eating microbe
  • Catalytic olefins project
  • Licensing agreement for EcoRight membrane bioreactor
  • Electrostatic media for high efficiency filtration 

CHINA NEWS

The recent developments on the following products/events are updated :

  • Trimethylolpropane  / Calcium formate
  • Carbon black
  • Coal to chemicals plant in Shaanxi
  • MDI
  • PTA
  • Methionine
  • Acetic anhydride
  • Superflex catalytic olefins 

AGRO CHEMICAL PAGE

The recent developments on the following products/events are discussed:

  • Wine from mango
  • Bio-fuel plantations in Tamil Nadu Agricultural University
  • Allopathic drugs being used as pesticides for cardamom
  • Briquettes From Agri Waste 

PHARMA PAGE

The following recent developments in the pharma industry are discussed:

  • Paracetamol use linked to asthma in teenagers: research
  • Mosquitoes turned into anti-malaria syringes
  • Biosimilars  - Plans ff Dr.Reddy’s Laboratories

PRICE DETAILS – INTERNATIONAL

Global price trends on the following products are provided :

  • Ethanol
  • Global naphtha price
  • Animal feed phosphate
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Spot bulk chemical prices
  • Contract bulk chemical prices
OTHER ARTICLES
  • Nuclear Liability Bill – For & Against
  • Closed Sugar Mills In UP- Are More Attractive For Buying!
  • Pyrogen Free Water
  • Tender
  • New Projects – International
  • Chemicals Imported At The Chennai Port During The Month Of July 2010 
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