A 9 million tonne refinery is to be set up by the Chennai Petroleum Corporation at Nagapattinam at a cost of Rs 30,000 crore – CPCL’s S N Pandey.
Speaking at the Chemvision organised by CII, S N Pandey, Managing Director, Chennai Petrochemicals, referred to the increasing use of natural gas as a source of energy feedstock and pointed to estimates that predict gas use will equal that of oil over the next couple of decades. He also referred to Madras Fertilizers, next to CPCL, switching to LNG as feedstock that will render nearly a million tonnes of naphtha readily available. This is welcome news for the southern region.
Over the last four decades, the expansion of the petroleum sector has been taking place in the north and the west and is based on natural gas. This rendered the southern fertilizer plants run on expensive naphtha sick. Again the south had also been missing out huge opportunities for the development of petrochemical and chemical industries. The naphtha rendered surplus at Chennai and additionally available at Nagapattinam would be invaluable for setting up a petrochemical complex in Tamil Nadu on the lines of Gujarat and Maharashtra. Such a plan was contemplated for Manali in the 1980s but it did not fructify.
Piped gas for cities soon…
K Gnanadesikan, Additional Chief Secretary,-Industry, had even more cheerful news for the immediate future: “Indian Oil’s LNG plant is getting ready for commissioning and plans to construct 1440 km of pipelines to take gas to other parts of Tamil Nadu; MFL and SPIC will switch to gas. There is great interest in city gas distribution and piped gas will be available soon,” said KG.
TN’s potential to become a chemical industry hub…
The state that has been focusing extensively on the automobile and the IT sectors is now slated to tap the potential to become a chemical industry hub. Vijay Shankar, President, Indian Chemical Council and Deputy Chairman, Sanmar Group, pointed to the concentration of chemical units in Gujarat that accounts for around 65 per cent of total production of chemicals in the country in contrast to just 5 per cent in Tamil Nadu. In spite of the pioneering work done by the chemical industry in Tamil Nadu decades ago, the state lost the advantage. With Gujarat saturated, the state has the potential to attract investments in this sector, he said.
Ramkumar Shankar, Managing Director, Chemplast Sanmar and Convenor, CII Tamil Nadu Chemical Taskforce, said the chemical industry with present size of around $ 165 billion has been registering 8-10 per cent growth and is the sixth globally. With low levels of per capita consumption and with fast economic growth, there is huge potential for growth,” said Shankar.
Tamil Nadu has three chemical clusters at Manali, Cuddalore and Thoothukudi. The familiarity with the industry for over eight decades, the abundance of skilled, educated manpower and the well-spread infrastructure can help tap the potential.
S Ilanahai, President, Chemical Industries Association, pointed to the steep drop in the availability of sulphuric acid consequent to the disruption to production at Sterlite Industries and to the need to set up new capacity. – SV