BASF Inaugurates Chemical Complex in Dahej; First MDI Splitter to Boost Value-adding Industries
- Girija Dalvi

BASF has begun production at their chemical complex in Dahej, India, which is its single largest investment of 1000 crore in the country. The complex was jointly inaugurated by Anandiben Patel, Chief Minister of Gujarat; Saurabhbhai Patel, Minister of Finance, Energy and Petrochemicals, Government of Gujarat and Michael Heinz, Member of the Board of Directors, BASF SE on October 7, 2014. Primarily focusing on care chemicals and polymer dispersions, the complex is an integrated hub for polyurethane manufacturing and production facilities. This site has BASF's first sulfation plant in India and targets customers in the FMCG sector.

Taking into account the changing global scenario with increasing population, constraints on the resources available, as well as the changing demographics and improving quality of life, Dr Raman Ramachandran, Chairman, BASF Companies in India & Head - South Asia shared that BASF's vision is to provide a powerful solution to these environmental challenges through chemistry as an enabler so as to meet the demand in a sustainable way.

When asked about 'Make in India', Heinz said that BASF's philosophy is to be close to customers; produce in the market for the market. So, through the polymer dispersion plant, BASF has expanded its production footprint to serve the northern and western Indian market. It will cater to customers in the paper and board, architectural coatings, construction, adhesives and fibre bonding sectors. This integrated hub would be producing Elastollan TPU , Cellasto and Polyurethane Systems. This will address the demands of industries in the footwear, automotive, construction, appliances and furniture segments.

Currently, BASF has an equation close to 50-50 percentage with respect to their upstream and downstream business. The company plans to penetrate into the downstream business as much as 70 percent, stated Heinz. He further added, "As part of our investment plans of more than Euro 10 billion in Asia Pacific between 2013 and 2020, we want to strengthen our production platform in India. With our new Dahej site, we are enhancing our position as supplier with local production and can even better 'create chemistry' with our customers advanced technologies and the commitment of our team in India, we will both contribute to and benefit from India's huge potential." At the Dahej chemical complex, there are six different business units and the production of polyurethane has already begun while the TPU plant is to be commissioned.

Talking about Intellectual Property (IP), Heinz said that the company would take all measures necessary to protect their rights. Ramachandran clarified that there are no IP disputes in India and BASF plans to invest 1.8 billion in R & D as it is an important area for the company. Elaborating further, Ramachandran said that about 25 percent of the R & D spends will happen in Asia-Pacific by 2020. BASF has an R & D centre in Mumbai.

Sharing a future vision, Ramachandran sees great potential in the coatings and dispersions segment as it is likely to see double digit growth rate since the government has put an impetus on enhancing the infrastructure in the country. The business is expected to double by 2025. Also, India's share in the company's global business stands at 2 percent which is expected to increase in the years to come. Heinz concluded that the sentiment is 'to grow above the market'.