By Nayan Dave
In view of expanding market of caustic soda globally, Vadodara-based Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals (GACL) is in the process to augment its current installed capacity of nearly 520,000 metric tonne per annum (MTPA) to around 900,000 MTPA by the end of the year 2022 through expansion of existing unit as well as a greenfield project.
The Gujarat government-owned listed company is adding 190,800 MTPA capacity at its existing 282,600 MTPA caustic soda plant situated at Dahej in South Gujarat through a `5,500 million expansion project. “We are expecting commissioning of the expansion project of Dahej plant by October this year,” said Harshad Patel, managing director of GACL. Besides, the company also has a 225,000 MTPA capacity plant at Vadodara.
Apart from the expansion of the Dahej caustic soda facility, GACL is putting up a green field caustic soda plant of 290,000 MTPA capacity and a 130 MW captive power plant in a joint venture (JV) with National Aluminum Company (NALCO) near GACL’s existing Dahej plant. Control of the JV company GACL-NALCO Alkalies & Chemicals (GNAL) will remain with GACL only.
For the Rs 20,000 million project, GACL and NALCO contributed equity of Rs 600 crore at a 60:40 ratio from their respective internal accruals. Balance amounts are being sourced from various lenders. GNAL is likely to become fully operational by December this year, said GACL MD.
At present, GACL is having around 11% share in India’s total caustic soda production, Patel said adding that with additional capacity, the company is expecting to have nearly 20% share in caustic soda production by the end of the current financial year. During the year 2021-22, GACL exported nearly Rs 500 crore worth of caustic soda to different countries.
“We are also aiming at a turnover of Rs 5,000 crore by March 2023 end from Rs 3,780 crore. Caustic soda demand is high in domestic as well as export markets. We are hoping the same trend continues for the current fiscal also,” he added.
Increasing demand from the textile and alumina sectors due to rising investments in these sectors is likely to drive the overall India Caustic Soda demand in the country, according to industry sources. As per the data of the Alkali Manufacturers Association of India (AMAI), India’s caustic soda installed capacity is 476,3000 tonne per annum by the end of FY21. During the year capacity utilisation was over 75%. However, GACL’s capacity utilisation was almost 100%, said a senior official of the state-owned company.
Apart from GACL, Shriram Alkali & Chemicals, Grasim Industries, Nirma, Aditya Birla Group, DCM Shriram, Nirma and Reliance Industries are leading players in caustic soda production in India.
Caustic soda is an inorganic bulk chemical, strongly alkaline, and odourless having applications in various fields like pulp & paper manufacturing, viscose yarn, staple fibre, aluminium, textiles, soaps & detergent, dyestuffs, drugs and pharmaceuticals, petroleum refining and water treatment.