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Keeping up with the times

Chemical companies are constantly adapting to external challenges and this is clearly evident in a comparison of the ICIS listing of top chemical companies in 2008 and 1998. Three companies that figured in the top 10 list for 1998 have disappeared – ICI, Hoechst and Rhone Poulenc – as a result of mergers and acquisitions […]

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Divine intervention needed

A reader of this blog has alerted me about serious problems at Mangalore Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL). An electrical short circuit has forced the company to stop operations at one crude distillation unit, two hydrocracker units, two visbreaker units, two sulphur recovery units and two reformers. The refinery is said to be operating at […]

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Going green

Green chemistry is gaining ground in India with alert companies following the global trend to make products from renewable feedstocks, reduce waste and energy consumption. Pradip Kadakia, Abhishek Nigam and Ashwin Rao of Tata Strategic Management Group (TSMG) say that Indian chemical companies are making good progress in lowering the industry’s environmental footprint by adopting […]

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Chem engineers return to the fold

The economic crisis has led to one favourable result for the chemical industry. After years of seeing graduate chemical engineers migrate to more lucrative sectors such as IT or finance the chemical industry is now proving to be attractive. I recently had an opportunity to meet Professor GD Yadav of Mumbai’s Institute of Chemical Technology […]

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Family feuds

It seems to be the season for family disputes and India is not the only country seeing this. Reliance Industries has company in South Korea’s Kumho Petrochemicals where two brothers are struggling to take control of the Kumho Asiana Group. Park Chan-koo, the younger brother was yesterday dismissed as chairman of the group’s petrochemical division […]

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ADD puzzle

It is more than a month since the commerce ministry announced stiff antidumping duties (ADD) on polypropylene (PP) imports from Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Oman. But a customs notification has yet to be released and this is puzzling many industry players. The customs notification, seen as a formality, is usually out within a week after […]

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Solar support

The good things in life are rarely free and that applies to solar power too. An analysis on this sector in ICIS chemical business highlights how high investment costs associated with photovoltaic (PV) cells has prevented the technology from being cost competitive on a standalone basis. Photo by juicyrai But a step-change in the economic […]

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Potash market power

Have Indian fertiliser companies been able to break a stranglehold that major producers have on the global potash market? Indian papers are full of reports on how Indian companies have succeeded in doing this by securing a contract price of $460/tonne for supplies in 2009-10, about $165/tonne lower than the previous contract. The drop comes […]

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Plastics problem

We may finally be seeing some balance in the debate on plastic bags and pollution. Rather than being swayed by NGOs to introduce a blanket ban on plastic bags, Jairam Ramesh, the new environment minister, is pushing for greater recycling, better waste management and the use of biodegradable plastics. Scenes such as the one below […]

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Empty promises

The 100-day fever is fast spreading and the Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilisers is the latest casualty. A very bland press release outlining what the ministry plans to achieve over the next three months has come my way. I started reading the release with a great deal of scepticism and was convinced at the end […]

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