InterviewNPRA '11: India's Supreme Petrochem to commission EPS units

27 March 2011 19:20  [Source: ICIS news]

PolystyreneSAN ANTONIO, Texas (ICIS)--India's Supreme Petrochem expects to commission one of its new expandable polystyrene (EPS) units at Nagothane by 16 April and second unit a month later, a senior company official with India's biggest PS producer said on Sunday.

"Both units are at the pre-commissioning stage right now. The first unit, which will produce commodity-grade EPS, will start up first, and the speciality-grade unit will go on stream later," said Nageswaran Gopal, executive director of Supreme Petrochem’s styrenics business, in an interview on the sidelines of the International Petrochemical Conference (IPC) in San Antonio.

"Although there will be some availability of EPS from the units in the coming months, sustained supply is expected only in July," Gopal said.

Each of the new EPS units, located in Maharashtra state, will have a capacity of 25,000 tonnes/year. "EPS demand in India is projected to grow at 14-15%/year in the next few years from current levels of 80,000-85,000 tonnes/year," Gopal said.

The main consuming sectors for Indian EPS are insulation (in construction) and packaging.

The speciality-grade unit will produce cup-grade EPS, using Nova technology. This grade is in high demand in the food packaging industry, he said.

The company also operates a 30,000 tonne/year EPS plant at Chennai, in Tamil Nadu state.

The units will have a designed capacity to double their size, Gopal said. "The company could look at debottlenecking the units in phases over the next few years, as the Indian market expands," he said.

However, availability of feedstock styrene would pose a challenge, as supply is erratic, Gopal said. Supreme Petrochem has no back integration and procurers its styrene feedstock from the Middle East and Asia.

The possibility of setting up a greenfield styrene plant was also not feasible at the moment, due to the dearth of feedstock ethylene, he said. "India is surplus in benzene, but ethylene is in short supply, so putting up a styrene plant will be very difficult," he said.

Supreme Petrochem also operates a 272,000 tonne/year PS plant in Nagothane, which produces high impact PS (HIPS) and general purpose PS (GPPS).

Hosted by the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association (NPRA), the IPC continues through Tuesday.

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By: Prema Viswanathan
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