Yet-to-recover, Chennai chem hub sets off industrial chain reaction

R Balaji Chennai | Updated on January 22, 2018

A unit at Manali, Chennai, hit by floods recently

Inputs supply disruption hits hard downstream units

Even as large chemical and petrochemical units of the Manali industrial belt struggle to recover from the heavy flooding that hit Chennai earlier this month, they have set off a chain of industrial disruption across the State.

With sulphur supplies from CPCL disrupted, Tanfac’s sulphuric acid production in Cuddalore is hit. Non-availability of acid has affected units in nearby Puducherry. Without chemicals from these units, detergent-makers are left high and dry. Soap-makers are affected as chemicals like linear alkyl benzene from Tamilnadu Petroproducts do not reach them.

At least half-a-dozen large units in north Chennai are yet to resume operations more than two weeks after the heavy rain and flooding. Industry representatives say it could take a few more weeks before things stabilise.

Some of the units yet to go on stream include Tamilnadu Petroproducts, Madras Fertilizers, SRF and Supreme Petro, besides a large Japanese turbine manufacturer, which did not want to be named.

CPCL, a standalone refinery of Indian Oil Corporation, informed the stock exchange today that its Crude Distillation Unit–II and fluidised catalytic cracking unit have resumed operations. But sulphur supply is yet to stabilise and buyers like Tanfac will have to settle for costlier options from Kochi and Mangaluru, say sources.

With dim prospects of a restart happening anytime soon, the sources fear supply deadlines will be missed with substantial financial implications. Industrial units in Manali alone have a cumulative turnover of about ₹60,000 crore annually. The total loss of production could run into a few thousand crore rupees, say Manali Industrial Association sources. Just the loss of materials is estimated in excess of ₹400 crore, according to the Association, which represents 18 large industrial units in the area.

As control rooms, electrical equipment and, in some units, production lines were completely submerged, experts will have to certify some of the machines fit to be switched on, again.

Published on December 24, 2015

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