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                                             HIGHLIGHTS OF ARTICLES FROM  JULY 2017 ISSUE

  • TALK OF THE MONTH
  • CSIR LABS FACE FUND CRUNCH – NOT SURPRISING
  • WHY NOT PRIVATISE THEM ?
  • N-DODECANE – PRODUCT PROFILE
  • BIO ACRYLIC ACID – INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
  • VEGETABLE CAPSULES – INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY
  • SORBITOL – PRODUCT PROFILE
  • QATAR BLOCKADE – MIDDLE EAST COUNTRIES HURTING THEMSELVES
  • LIKELY BIG IMPACT ON PETROCHEMICAL SECTOR
  • BANKRUPTCY LAW & IT’S IMPLICATIONS FOR THE INDIAN INDUSTRIES
  • WILL BANKRUPTCY LAW DRIVE SICK INDIAN INDUSTRIES TO OVERSEAS HANDS ?
  • SHOULD INDIAN STEEL COMPANIES EXPAND OR CONSOLIDATE ?
  • ` IS IMPORT GROWTH OF NATURAL GAS IN INDIA INEVITABLE?
  • HYDROCARBONS EXPLORATION POLICY OF GOVT.OF INDIA
  • -- YET ANOTHER ANNOUNCEMENT
  • TRĒVATM – EMERGING ENGINEERING BIOPLASTICS
  • NEW CATALYST THAT PAVES WAY FOR CARBON NEUTRAL FUEL
  • WACKER SILICONES – A PROFILE
  • OUTSOURCING OPPORTUNITIES  IN PHARMA INGREDIENT MANUFACTURING
  • ANTI DUMPING PAGE
  • NEWS ROUND UP – INTERNATIONAL
  • CHINA NEWS
  • AGRO CHEMICAL PAGE
  • OTHER ARTICLES
  • EX-FACTORY PRICE OF CHEMICALS IN CHINA- PERIOD JUNE 2017
  • TENDER
  • CHEMICALS IMPORTED AT THE CHENNAI PORT
  • DURING THE MONTH OF APRIL 2017
TALK OF THE MONTH

                                         CSIR LABS FACE FUND CRUNCH – NOT SURPRISING

                                                        WHY NOT PRIVATISE THEM ?

 

Government of India owned Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is  reported to be staring at a fund crunch.

This scenario is grim but not surprising, given the style of functioning that prevail in these government owned laboratories .

Distress communication from  Director General of CSIR

A letter from  Director General of CSIR to directors of 38 CSIR labs says that the funding is “tight” and that labs have to look outside of the CSIR to meet their expenses.

In any given year, the CSIR— with a Rs.4,000 crore annual budget — apportions out about   Rs.1,200 to 1,400 crore to its labs for research.

In 2017-18, according to letter from Director General of CSIR labs, only about Rs.360 crore would be available.

The crunch is primarily due to the organisation having to meet with increased salary outgo from recommendations of the 7th  Pay Commission and  Rs.1650 crore expenditure towards meeting its pension requirements. These expenses are likely to spill over into the future also.

“…Thus, the balance available for lab allocations and various new research projects (including 12th  Plan leads, Mission projects etc) is only Rs.360 crore. Of this, a sum of Rs.158 crore has already been allocated. If  CSIR were to release further sums under these heads, it will be left with no fund to support new research projects. This is the stark reality,” letter from Director General of CSIR said.

Are Dehradun Declaration forgotten ?

In 2015, as part of  Dehradun Declaration under Union Science Minister’s leadership, the Directors of CSIR labs committed that  CSIR would generate about 50% of its budget through external sources.

This has not happened and no convincing explanation have been offered so far  for the failure to achieve the target.

CSIR labs are presently reported to be generating only around 10% of the  budget through external sources

CSIR labs have to immediately  work out a strategy to ensure that 50% of  it’s budget would come from external sources.

Obviously, management and scientists have to change their mindset and produce value from R&D work in keeping with the CSIR mandate.

In progressive organisations, fund crunch would be viewed as  an opportunity to reorganize the strategies and improve the work culture. The question is whether CSIR will do this?

It remains to be seen whether the management and scientists in CSIR labs will reorient themselves with changed outlook and more determination  to turnout  innovative research findings, that are appropriate to the needs of the country and that would meet the expectations of the industry and end users.

Performance of government supported research

So far, CSIR labs have been almost entirely dependent upon government funds for maintaining their operations, meeting the salary and wages of the employees and doing whatever research work.  The country has not  seen commensurate benefits for the investment made by the government  in CSIR labs.

In addition to the CSIR labs, Government of India has been spending considerable funds for several other research programmes conducted by various universities in the country in different fields.

There is also Technology Development Board, a Government of India promoted set up,  which has to scrutinise the new project proposals for research  and recommend fund support for chosen projects.  They are also expected to monitor the progress of the research work that have been  recommended by them . 

All such efforts of the Government of India to boost  R&D have not yielded adequate results.There have been some isolated achievements which are very few instances, that do not firmly prove the capability of the research scientists in India for appropriate and  innovative work.

There are two organisations namely Atomic Energy Commission and Indian Space Research Organisation that have carried out creditable performance and achieved success But, even in these two organisations, there have been no report of any cost audit to find whether the performance match the investments made in terms of over all benefits to the country.

India has spent enough time over several decades, discussing about such inadequate scientific research pursuits.  The government taking responsibility for boosting R&D by setting up its own labs and institutions  and funding them have failed.

This is more than evident from the fact that the confidence  of the industries and end users in the government owned research institutions and university  based research  efforts have not been high.

Why not privatise the CSIR labs ?

It is high time that the Government of India should consider organising  the research and development projects in the country as corporate activity. This can be done by privatising the CSIR labs, so that time bound action plans and target can be achieved in highly motivated climate  and target bound work culture, with system of rewards and punishments.

Corporate  based research and development organisations would  function with profit motive, which would inevitably make them function more efficiently with purposive and time bound research to generate adequate returns for the investment made.

While government funding of research programme is a necessary activity to some extent  , such investment in  research efforts should be made accountable to the  country, since tax payers money are being spent.This can be more effectively done by promoting private sector enterprises  as research organisations.

Many CSIR labs have enormous facilities and equipments and large number of  well qualified scientists in their fold . Certainly such resources can be well utilised to provide better performance and output, if the entities would be motivated by providing them appropriate working climate. Privatisation of CSIR labs  would lead to this end.

N-DODECANE – PRODUCT PROFILE

Normal dodecane (n-C12) constitutes about 25 to 30% by weight of straight run kerosene fraction, boiling in the range 212 to 225 deg C (with the rest being non-normal C12 components and minimum of lighters and heavies). 

  • Appearance                              Colourless transparent liquid

  • Odour                                      Gasoline
  • Cas No.                                    12-40-3
  • Molecular Formula                    C12H26
  • Stability:                                    Stable under normal storage conditions.
  • Specification
  • Purity:                                      98.5% min
  • Aromatic                                  0.5% max
  • Density (20 deg C )                  0.749gm per CC

Following details are given in this article

Applications

  • N-Dodecane is used as  solvent and is used to spray insecticide, pesticide.
  • Moreover it is used as a diluent for tributyl phosphate (TBP) in plants reprocessing.
  • Jet fuel surrogate
  • In recent years, n-dodecane has garnered attention as a possible surrogate for kerosene based fuels such as Jet-A, S-8, and other conventional aviation fuels.
  • It is considered a second generation fuel surrogate designed to emulate the laminar flame speed, largely supplanting n-decane, primarily due to its higher molecular mass and lower hydrogen to carbon ratio, which better reflect the n-alkane content of jet fuels.
  • Process outline
  • Sample of import in India

 

BIO ACRYLIC ACID – INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY

  • General details
  • Appearance                              Clear, colourless liquid
  • CAS No                                   79-10-7
  • Chemical formula                     C3H4O2

Following details are given in this article

  • Applications
  • Indian scenario
  • Indian Import
  • Manufacturing process
  • Bio routes for acrylic acid - Technology development

VEGETABLE CAPSULES – INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY

In March 2016, the Central Drugs Standards Control Organization (CDSCO)  issued  a public notice, seeking opinion on the replacement of gelatin capsules with cellulose capsules.

Recently, the  health ministry of Government of India set up an expert committee that wlould  hear various stakeholders to ascertain whether animal-origin gelatin capsules should be replaced with plant-origin cellulose capsules.

Globally, gelatin capsules have been time-tested and are held to be safe and are recognised by regulatory agencies across the globe, including the US and the EU.  Over 95% of all capsules in the world are gelatin capsules  As compared to gelatin capsules, the number of cellulose capsules that have been approved is significantly less.

There have also been several proposals made to the Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) to label cellulose capsules with the ‘green dot’ to indicate their vegetarian origin—drawing a distinction from the ‘non-vegetarian’ gelatin capsules. However,the DTAB shot down the proposal .

Following details are given in this article

  • Physical parameter of vegetable capsules
  • Features of vegetable capsule
  • Demand  drivers
  • Demand
  • Indian producers
  • Manufacturing process
  • GLOBAL SCENARIO
  • Important global producers
  • Sample of import in India
SORBITOL – PRODUCT PROFILE
  • Appearance                              White crystalline solid or light viscous syrup
  • Molecular formula                    C6H14O6
  • Form                                        Normally sold as
  • Solution 70%
  • Powder                                   99.5%.                   
  • CAS No                                   50-7-4
  • Synonym                                  Glucitol

Following details are given in this article

  • Product specification
  • Product applications
  • Indian import/ export
  • Indian manufacturers
  • New project under planning
  • Demand driver
  • Estimated demand 
  • Manufacturing process
GLOBAL SCENARIO
  • Global consumption                                                                      
  • Annual global growth rate in demand through 2021      
  • Global producers
  • Region wise global consumption pattern of sorbitol – Period: 2016
  • Global consumption, demand driver and challenges
  • Global import
  • Top global importers
  • Pattern of region wise global import
QATAR BLOCKADE – MIDDLE EAST COUNTRIES HURTING THEMSELVES LIKELY BIG IMPACT ON PETROCHEMICAL SECTOR

Many observers around the world were surprised, when Arab nations namely Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain  and UAE went to the extent of imposing economic and  civil blockade against Qatar to settle their scores and perhaps, to  satisfy their ego. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain  and UAE  have justified the blockade decision, stating that Qatar has been supporting Islamist terrorist groups such as Al Queda, Muslim Brotherhood and Daesh and   has been courting Iran.

Further, UAE has tightened the squeeze on Qatar, threatening anyone publishing  any expression  of sympathy  towards Qatar with upto 15 years of prison.

Any careful observer would inevitably think that such steps  by Saudi Arabia and other countries against Qatar amount to biting one’s nose to spite the face. This is nothing but “urchin like strategy”, devoid of any appreciation of the global trade, economic compulsions and its trends and mutual dependence of the countries in the Middle East region.

This  also exposes the fact that the countries that imposed  economic blockade on Qatar have not carefully  assessed  their strength and weakness and the vulnerable situation faced by them. It is like people sitting in the glass house  throwing stones on  others.

Following details are discussed in this article

  • Negative impact on Middle East countries.
  • Impact on the world
  • Counter productive decision
BANKRUPTCY LAW & IT’S IMPLICATIONS FOR THE INDIAN INDUSTRIES

It is often said that industries may become sick but the industrialists owning them rarely become sick.

While several sick industrial units and commercial establishments default on the loan and interest repayment and owe several thousands of crores of rupees to the banks and other financial institutions , the directors of most of such units lead an affluent life with high salaries and perks, benefits and privileges.

Obviously, the sickness of the industries are not reflected on the owners of the units in most cases.

In the past, the Government of India and the banks have been dealing with these sick units with soft gloves, providing them interest waivers, additional loan and revised repayment schedules. Still, in many cases, their financial conditions have not improved and the exposure of the banks to these units have only increased causing more discomfort to the banks.

Following details are discussed in this article

  • Does Government of India have a strategy  ?
  • Can bankruptcy law be implemented without affecting growth ?
  • Does Government of India have a forward plan ?
  • One sensitive question
WILL BANKRUPTCY LAW DRIVE SICK INDIAN INDUSTRIES TO OVERSEAS HANDS ?

Several large Indian companies owe around Rs.10 lakh crores to banks and financing institutions in India due to their inability to repay the loan and the accrued interest.

Such scenario has destabilised the banks , particularly the public sector banks, to a considerable extent.

The bankruptcy law ,enacted by government of India recently , is supposed to help the banks to recover the debt from the loan defaulters.

However, doubts persist as to whether the bankruptcy law , which empower the banks to declare the loan defaulters which are sick companies as bankrupt, will achieve it’s objectives in the present circumstances.

In the context of the bankruptcy law now in force. the bankers are now holding series of meetings to decide how to recover the debt from 12 sick companies, which owe a total of around Rs 2.5 lakh crore and constitute 25% of all bad loans in the banking system.

While the banks have backing of the bankruptcy law, the task of recovering the bad debts is by no means easy , as it is difficult to find new buyers for the sick units who can take over and run the units efficiently and clear the debts to the banks.

Obviously, the banks have to give huge concession to the buyers by way of waiver of loans and accrued interest and restructure the loan repayment schedule. In the process, the banks are bound to lose financially to a significant extent.

Following details are discussed in this article

  • Where are the buyers ?
  • Rosneft-Essar Oil deal – A case study
  • Will banks in India do a road show abroad to market sick companies ?
SHOULD INDIAN STEEL COMPANIES EXPAND OR CONSOLIDATE ?

Overall performance of Indian steel sector

Although installed capacity of the Indian steel industry stood at about  128 million tonne as on March 31, 2017, the actual operational capacity are lower, since the capacity utilisation level of stressed steel units are lower than the industry average of about 75 to 80% in FY 2017.

Though the operating margin of 18 large and   mid-sized steel companies in India, accounting for around 60% of the domestic installed capacity, marginally improved in the fourth quarter of 2016-2017,the overall financial performance of the Indian steel sector remains dismal, as reflected by the level of total debt to operating profit before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization.

Total exposure of the banks to the Indian steel sector stood at Rs. 3.13 lakh crore as on  March 31, 2016. There have been significant rise in stressed accounts in domestic steel sector with gross non performing assets (NPAs) of about Rs. 1.15 lakh crore as on March 31, 2016, roughly about 37% of the total exposure.

Five out of the twelve companies, which have been  referred under insolvency resolution process in respect of a default, under provisions of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) 2016, are from the iron and steel sector with  total debt of about Rs. 1.4 lakh crore as on March 31, 2016. These five steel companies together contribute about 16% to India’s installed steel production capacity.

Profitability and coverage indicators of these steel companies account hit a low in FY2016 due to several reasons including commodity price melt down and cheaper import.

Following details are discussed in this article

  • Proposed expansion plans in steel sector
  • Tata Steel --  Case Study
  • Plans of JSW steel
  • Why expand and not consolidate ?
  • What stand for financial institutions ?
` IS IMPORT GROWTH OF NATURAL GAS IN INDIA INEVITABLE?

At the current production level of around 40 BCM (Billion cubic metre) per year of  natural gason an estimated reserves base of around 1500 BCM in India, it translates to reserves to production ratio of around 30 to 35 years for natural gas.

According to data from the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell, gas consumption in the country stood at 136.12 mmscmd for financial year 2016-17. Of this, imported LNG stood at 67.65 mmscmd during the period.

Sectors such as fertilisers, city gas distribution, refineries and other industrial sectors, are growth oriented and are expected to drive the demand for natural gas in the country

It appears that the demand for natural gas will double in the near term, but domestic production will lag far behind.

Above subject is further discussed in this article.

HYDROCARBONS EXPLORATION POLICY OF GOVT.OF INDIA -- YET ANOTHER ANNOUNCEMENT

In the last few years, Government of India have taken 22 decisions on the hydrocarbon exploration and production sector.

Following details are discussed in this article

  • HELP & NELP
  • National Data Repository (NDR)
TRĒVATM – EMERGING ENGINEERING BIOPLASTICS

Eastman Chemical Company, has introduced Eastman TRĒVATM, a breakthrough in engineering bioplastics, that help global brands concurrently meet their sustainability and performance needs in today’s rapidly evolving marketplace.

TRĒVATM is designed to allow for superior surface gloss, clarity and warm touch and feel, enabled through a combination of the base material.The material also boasts good colour saturation and superior secondary processing and decorating capability, creating additional design and branding options.

TRĒVATM’s benefits are three-fold: sustainability, end-use performance, and design and brand flexibility.

TRĒVATM is an engineering bioplastic that offers chemical resistance, standing up better than other engineering thermoplastics to some of the harshest chemicals, including skin oils, sunscreens, and household cleaners.

Its flow rates, durability and dimensional stability allow for less material usage, thinner parts, and longer product life, enhancing life cycle assessments.

The material’s low birefringence means eliminating the unwelcomed rainbow effect that some plastics experience with polarized light, improving the user experience with electronic device screens and retail displays. Birefringence is the optical property of a material having a refractive index that depends on the polarization and propagation direction of light. These optically anisotropic materials are said to be birefringent (or birefractive)

Flow characteristics also enable design freedom, allowing TRĒVATM to be used with complicated designs and in filling thin parts. Under recommended processing conditions, recent thin wall 30 mil spiral flow testing shows that TRĒVATM flow rates are significantly better than polycarbonate and polycarbonate / ABS blends, and comparable to ABS.

Following details are given in this article.

  • Composition of the product
  • Applications
NEW CATALYST THAT PAVES WAY FOR CARBON NEUTRAL FUEL

A Research has shown that the hydrogen can be produced efficiently with solar energy.                    

But combining the hydrogen with CO2 to produce methane is a safer option than using hydrogen directly as an energy source and allows the use of existing natural gas infrastructure.

Australian scientists have developed an efficient catalyst that converts carbon dioxide into synthetic natural gas in a clean process using solar energy, paving the way for carbon neutral fuel.

The study by researchers, including those from University of Adelaide in Australia, could make viable a process that has enormous potential to replace fossil fuels and continue to use existing carbon based fuel technologies without increasing atmospheric CO2.

The catalyst effectively drives the process of combining CO2 with hydrogen to produce methane  (the main component of the fossil fuel natural gas) and water.

Above subject is further discussed in this article.

WACKER SILICONES – A PROFILE

WACKER Group is among the few world ranking silicone manufacturers to perform all the required process and value creation steps at its integrated sites starting with the manufacture of crude silane and siloxane, through to the finished end products.

Following details are given in this article

  • Facilities
  • Sales turnover
  • Product range
OUTSOURCING OPPORTUNITIES  IN PHARMA INGREDIENT MANUFACTURING

The complexity of new molecules is driving demand for outsourcing. 

Complex molecules take a different set of skills for synthesis, analysis, and purification.

They are harder to make and have very high-value to patients.  This leads to issues with bioavailability and solubility.  Pharmaceutical companies of all sizes may not have the resources to deal with these issues.

These trends are increasing the demand for outsourcing in global pharmaceutical industry . 

Above subject is further discussed in this article.

ANTI DUMPING PAGE

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

  • Toluene di isocyanate (TDI)
  • Gypsum boards
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Linear Alkyl Benzene sulphonic acid
  • Sewing machine needles from China
  • Hydroxy ethylidene diphosphonic acid (HEDP)
  • Chloroprene rubber
  • Catechol
  • Meta phenoxy benzaldehyde
  • Polyester yarn
NEWS ROUND UP – INTERNATIONAL

The recent developments on the following products/events are discussed

  • Potassium hydroxide project in Antwerp
  • Renewable isooctane
  • HFO-1234 yf plant in USA
  • Ethylene plant in Grangemouth,UK
  • o-xylene plant in Germany
  • PE plants at Mont Blevieu.USA
  • Silicones and acrylic polymer investments in Saudi Arabia
  • Nitric acid plant for Grupa Azoty,Poland
CHINA NEWS

The recent developments in China on the following products/events are discussed

  • China’s largest PDH unit
  • Propionic Acid
  • Ethylene glycol project
  • Polycarbonate
  • Methanol to olefin plant
  • Fumed Silica

AGRO CHEMICAL PAGE

Recent developments  in the agro  fields are  discussed in the following  articles

  • Restriction on Tricyclazole fungicide
  • Restriction on Isoprothiolane, Buprofezin pesticide
  • Glufosinate, a broad spectrum herbicide.
  • Proposed acquisition of Monsanto by Bayer

OTHER ARTICLES

EX-FACTORY PRICE OF CHEMICALS IN CHINA- PERIOD JUNE 2017

TENDER

CHEMICALS IMPORTED AT THE CHENNAI PORT

DURING THE MONTH OF APRIL 2017