The Indian Petrochemical Industry has been a vital contributor to the growth of the Indian Economy and is also an underlying catalyst in the development of certain areas of economic importance like Infrastructure, Agriculture, Automobiles and Consumer Goods.
Although the Petrochemical Industry has consistently outperformed the GDP Growth rates of India – growing at around 1.5 times the GDP growth rate, recent developments consequent to advantaged feedstock availability in the US and Middle East have led to a situation where announced investments by Indian Companies on production of Petrochemical Building Blocks have fallen short of future requirements. In the absence of sufficient investments, big shortfalls in main building blocks like Ethylene and even Propylene are projected - to the order of 9 MMTPA for Ethylene and 3 MMTPA for Propylene by 2025.
Building Block shortages of such levels will lead to India becoming a very large importer of these products and therefore result in a missed opportunity for the Indian Downstream Petrochemical Industry to grow while remaining self-sufficient upstream and insulated thereby from commercial shocks and raw material shortages which would ultimately hamper the returns on investment and hence orderly growth.
Petrochemical intermediates – produced using petrochemical building blocks such as ethylene and propylene – are also vital links in the Indian industry. Intermediates like ethylene oxide, propylene oxide, polyols, phenol, acrylic acid, styrene and rubber derivatives are primary feedstocks to produce specialty chemicals. These specialty chemicals in turn, are essential to manufacture a majority of consumer and technology products required for the growth of the economy. Given the strategic importance of petrochemical intermediates, it is also vital that petrochemical intermediates attain some levels of self-sufficiency by 2025 thereby adding momentum to the growth of manufacturing in India.
In addition to availability of feedstocks and intermediates, technology availability, cost and sustainability remain prime concerns that need to be addressed. Modern, energy efficient, green technologies are required to ensure that the Indian Industry remains on the cutting edge of technology besides being competitive and environmentally friendly.
The impact and importance of modern technology is not restricted only to the manufacture of Building Blocks and intermediates but also to end products and downstream segments. Unless technology upgradation combined with consolidation leading to economies of scale happen in a significant manner in the downstream segments, the overall competitiveness of the Indian Industry will always remain under the cloud of a question mark vis-à-vis the external competition.
The 5th IndianOil Petrochemical Conclave, the fifth edition of this prestigious event, is intended as a forum for industry experts and captains to discuss and deliberate the envisaged issues such that the outline for a Petrochemicals Vision for the year 2025 emerges in some detail.