Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Postage Stamp to commemorate Golden Jubilee of Indian Oil released

 President Smt. Pratibha Patil released a special Postage stamp to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Indian Oil here today. Speaking on the occasion, the Union Minister for Communication and Information Technology, Sh. A Raja said that the stamps are not only a token of receipt of postage, but play a very important role as “cultural ambassadors”. The Minister added that by bringing out commemorative postage stamps the Department of Posts is committed to nurture the historical and cultural heritage of the nation. The stamps brought out not only serve the purpose of bringing revenue to the Department but also add to our knowledge and generate awareness about people, events and institutions. 

Acknowledging the services of Indian Oil to the nation and its people Sh.Raja informed that the design of the stamp depicts the Company’s commitment and dedication to the national objective of self-sufficiency in energy sector, especially in oil refining and marketing.

President Inaugurates Golden Jubilee Celebrations of IOC

The President of India Smt. Pratibha Devi Singh Patil inaugurated the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) a leading public sector undertaking of the Government of India under the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas. Among others Shri Murli Deora, Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Shri A. Raja, Minister of Communications & Information Technology and Shri Jitin Prasada, Minister of State for Petroleum & Natural Gas, Dr. Shashi Tharur, Minister of State for External Affairs, Shri Sachin Pilot, Minister of State for Communication & IT were present on the occasion. Petroleum Secretary Shri R.S. Pandey, Chairman IOC Shri Sarthak Behuria and other senior officers of the Government and the Oil Industry also graced the occasion. The President also released a commemorative postage stamp on the occasion. 

In his address Shri Deora emphasized that Indian Oil is beginning the Golden Jubilee Celebrations today with a sense of pride and achievement. He informed that the company’s turn over has gone upto the record level of 61 billion dollars annually. The Company has work force of over 33000 and has a pride of place amongst the PSUs. Stating that the current year has seen significant milestones with commencement of gas production in KG basin, the Minister informed that the oil production in Barmer in Rajasthan will commence shortly. This would add to nearly 1/4th of country’s domestic crude oil production at its peak while availability of gas would nearly double. 

Referring to the high oil prices last year and Government’s effort to insulate common man as well as compensate OMCs, Shri Jitin Prasada stressed that time has come when we have to look for new solutions. He asked IOC to play a leading role to improve refinery margins and by using latest technologies make sure that the heavy subsidized kerosene oil reaches the targeted beneficiary. 

Indian Oil was incorporated on 30th June, 1959 and has ever since scaled new heights. Presently, the company has 10 refineries, 10,000 km. pipeline across length and breadth of the country, 35000 sales points including over 18,000 retail outlets. It has world class R&D centre which has helped inventing 120 active patents. 

Following is the text of Shri Murli Deora’s address: 

“First and foremost, I must express my grateful thanks to Her Excellency, the President of India for accepting our invitation to be present on this momentous occasion. Madam, your gracious presence today will be a source of inspiration to all present here and to Indian Oil Corporation and the oil sector. Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOC) is beginning its Golden Jubilee Celebration today with a sense of pride and achievement. During the last 50 years, it has grown to be a company with a 61 billion dollars of annual turnover and a work force of over 33,000 employees and has a place of pride among PSUs in the country. 

As you are aware, Indian Oil was a brainchild of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru’s vision of a free and enterprising India, occupying a pride of place in the community of nations. It was created at a time when steady supply of energy was one of the prime concerns of the nation as it drew up ambitious plans for economic growth and prosperity. 

Madam President, while addressing the joint session of Parliament after the recent elections, on 4th June, 2009 you spoke about the “NEED TO PUSH THE FRONTIERS AND TO QUESTION OUTDATED PRACTICES, TO BRING A CRITICAL EDGE TO GOVERNANCE”, and also about “THE DECADE OF INNOVATION”. 

These words inspire us to promote creativity and innovation in our areas of work. In the ten broad areas of priority for the Government, you have correctly emphasized on “Energy Security and Environment Protection”. 

The current year has, in fact, seen significant milestones in this direction. Gas production from K.G. Basin in our eastern frontiers has begun on 1st April this year. This will nearly double the domestic availability of gas. Also, very shortly, oil production from the fields in the Western part of our country, in Barmer District in Rajasthan, will commence from the fields operated by Cairn Energy Limited. Oil from this field, at its peak, will account for nearly one-fourth of the country’s total domestic production. 

Last year, oil prices witnessed extreme fluctuation. The price of Crude Oil had gone up to 147 dollars per barrel in the month of July 2008 and down to 35 dollars towards the end of the year. Along with the volatility, was the challenge of economic down-turn facing the whole world. We, however, faced effectively the challenge of the global situation. It is a matter of great satisfaction that we are still growing at over 6% per annum despite recessionary trends in many parts of the globe. 

Our oil marketing companies IOC, BPCL and HPCL took upon themselves the challenge of making petroleum products available throughout the length and breadth of the country. During these challenging times, we have protected the interest of the consumers as well as the Oil Marketing Companies. The prices of Kerosene Oil, which is the poor man’s fuel and source of light, has been kept at a level of Rs. 9/- per litre, the cheapest in the world. 

Indian Oil Corporation has about 55% market share in respect of petroleum products in the country. The company has taken several measures to reach energy to the citizens and the industry. 

It is a matter of great pride that the products reach every nook and corner of the country including the remotest ones, 24 hours of the day, and seven days a week. However, there are many challenges before them. Recently we have formulated Vision 2015 in the area of Marketing. The LPG coverage is available to about 50% of our population presently. Under the Vision, it is to be extended to 75% by 2015. For this, the existing scheme of LPG Distributorship will be supplemented by a new Scheme of LPG Gramin Vitrak. Innovative approaches such as accepting bookings for LPG through SMS and providing 100% LPG coverage in cities with more than 5 lakh population will be undertaken. 

A clear road map for City Gas Services, in which 200 cities are to be brought under the City Gas Service by 2015 will be drawn up. Oil Marketing Companies has a major responsibility in fulfilling this Vision. 

We have set before ourselves ambitious growth targets under the leadership of Dr. Manmohan Singh, Hon’ble Prime Minister and Chairperson of UPA Smt. Sonia Gandhi. IOC and other oil companies in the public and private sector have to play their role in realizing the cherished goals set for our nation and I am confident that they would fulfil the desired objective. 

On this momentous occasion I extend my congratulations to the officers and staff of Indian Oil Corporation and wish them a successful career in the service of the Nation”.

Law Ministry clarifies reports regarding ril-rnrl matter

A business news channel has been carrying reports quoting Law Ministry sources that Government will intervene in KG Basin Gas Settlement matter between Ambani brothers once case comes in Supreme Court. 

It is clarified that as on date no reference has been received by this Department on the issue either from the Ministry of Petroleum or any other Ministry. This Department has not expressed any view in the matter after the Mumbai High Court Judgement on this issue.

Sumitomo Metals Dissolves its Engineering Company

June 30, 2009 
Sumitomo Metal Industries, Ltd. (Sumitomo Metals) will dissolve the Engineering Company, one of its in-house companies, as a part of its organizational reform as of July 1, 2009.
The bridge business of the Engineering Company shall be transferred to Sumikin Bridge Center, Co., Ltd., by using an absorption-type split method on July 1, 2009. (Sumikin Bridge Center, Co., Ltd. will change its corporate name to Sumikin Bridge Co., Ltd. on the same day.)

Siroll Heavy Duty Shapemeter: new flatness measuring system for cold rolled steel and aluminum strip up to 5.5 mm thick

Siemens VAI Metals Technologies has augmented its portfolio for online flatness measurement of cold rolled strip in steel and aluminum rolling mills with the Siroll Heavy Duty Shapemeter. The new flatness measuring system is an enhanced version of the tried-and-tested Air Bearing Shapemeter family and enables measurement of cold rolled strips with a thickness of up to 5.5 mm. The system can be adapted flexibly to a wide range of end products and varying production conditions.
With the heavy duty version of the Siroll Shapemeter, Siemens VAI is extending upwards the range of strip thicknesses accessible to flatness measurements. Whereas the previous Shapemeter systems were designed for cold rolled strip of between 0.005 mm and 4 mm, the Heavy Duty Shapemeter handles thicknesses of between 0.05 mm and 5.5 mm. As is the case with the other systems, strips with a width of up to three meters can be measured.
The Heavy Duty Shapemeter features high load-bearing capacity combined with a robust design and is especially suitable for use in cold rolling mills for aluminum and steel, continuously providing plant operators with flatness data on the cold strip measured, even at low rolling speeds. The Automatic Trend Alignment (ATA) ensures precise positioning of the measured roll under all operating conditions and the system offers one the highest resolutions available today.
Like the other measuring systems from the Shapemeter series, the heavy duty version has a modular structure, which facilitates commissioning, reduces maintenance work and minimizes the stocking of spare parts.

Boost productivity by up to 25 percent: Siemens offers consulting services for manufacturers of flat aluminum products

The Process Consultancy Services offered by Siemens VAI Metals Technologies help manufacturers of flat aluminum products to boost their productivity and yield and to improve product quality. The process consultancy services can be tailored to specific requirements, ranging from examining one single sub-system to analyzing complete factory operations. At a Chinese foil mill, it was possible to increase productivity by around 25 percent.
As a leading vendor of plant technology for the aluminum industry, Siemens VAI has references from all over the world, including compact aluminum, reversing warm rolling, tandem rolling, cold rolling and foil roll mills. Its industry-specific know-how encompasses process control and electrical engineering as well as fluid technology and mechanics.
Based on process-oriented consulting packages, Siemens VAI checks operational processes or workflow and production planning. Suggestions are then put forward for improving productivity or quality. In addition, an analysis of the factory and existing production facilities provides a decision-making basis for pending investments in modernization or expansion projects and yields information about options for extending the product portfolio.
Depending on the plant, the potential for improvements can be considerable. Thus, in a high-speed foil rolling mill in China, it was possible to boost productivity by up to 25% by reducing pre-stress levels in relation to the rolling speed.
The process consultancy services are provided by an interdisciplinary team of technical specialists for all kinds of systems, manufacturing facilities and production processes.

World Steel in Figures 2009 is available online

Publication Announcement

Brussels, 30 June 2009 – The World Steel Association (worldsteel) has published the 2009 edition of World Steel in Figures. It is now available on worldsteel.org.

World Steel in Figures provides essential facts and statistics about the global steel industry. The book contains comprehensive information on crude steel production, apparent steel use, trade, scrap, iron, and pig iron.

World Steel in Figures lists the top steel-producing countries and companies around the world. In 2008 the five major steel producing countries were:

China 500.5 mmt
Japan 118.7 mmt
United States 91.4 mmt
Russia 68.5 mmt
India 55.2 mmt
Total world production was 1,326.5 mmt in 2008, down from 1,351.3 mmt in 2007.

The largest five steel producing companies in 2008 were:
ArcelorMittal 101.6 mmt
Nippon Steel 37.5 mmt
Baosteel Group 35.4 mmt
Hebei Steel Group 33.3 mmt
JFE 32.4 mmt
World Steel in Figures 2009 is now available from the online Bookshop. A PDF copy of the book can be downloaded from the website and printed copies can be ordered from the bookshop.

Notes to Editors:

• The World Steel Association (worldsteel) is one of the largest and most dynamic industry associations in the world. worldsteel represents approximately 180 steel producers (including 18 of the world's 20 largest steel companies), national and regional steel industry associations, and steel research institutes. worldsteel members produce around 85% of the world's steel.

 Expeditious approvals for PPP Projects and enhanced connectivity to Jammu & Kashmir and North East tops Ministry of Road Transport & Highways 100 day Action Plan 
The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has proposed to accord top most priority to the development of road infrastructure in Jammu & Kashmir and North East states in its 100-day agenda. The Ministry, in its agenda, submitted to the Prime Minister’s office has also given an action plan to fast track 30 PPP sub -projects so as to get all clearances before the end of September and put them for awarding. This is especially important as the approval of the PPP projects involves approvals from the various Ministries. 

In the action plan submitted, the Ministry has fixed time-lines for the various approvals and it is expected that 30 projects will be awarded as result of these clearances. This includes 4 projects in Jammu & Kashmir. The Ministry has submitted that the completion of the appraisal by Planning Commission will be completed by 31st July and approval of the CCEA will be sought by the end of September. This would ensure that the projects are ready for awarding at the earliest. The Ministry aims to construct 7000 km of road per year. 

Various projects to enable enhanced connectivity to Jammu & Kashmir have also been included in the 100 days agenda. The four- laning of the National Highway from Jammu to Srinagar is proposed in the plan. This will be done on BOT Annuity basis in six packages. This includes rehabilitation, strengthening and four laning of Srinagar to Banihal section (67.76 km), Ramban to Banihal (36 km) section, Udhampur to Ramban section (43 km) and Jammu to Udhampur section (65 km). The package for Jammu and Kashmir also includes four laning of Quazigund to Banihal section (15.25 km) and also of Chenanni to Nashri section (12 km). The estimated total project cost for these six packages to be executed by NHAI is estimated at Rs.9628.82 crore. The plan also has National Highway works amounting to Rs.100 crore. to be executed by Border Roads Organisation. This includes widening to 2-lane standards and strengthening of National Highway 1D (Zozila – Kargil – Leh road), and re-alignment and construction of 2-lane road for about 3 km at NH-1B (Batote – Kishtwar road).In addition, the Ministry would also clear 2 projects for state roads worth Rs.768 crore. 

Better and enhanced connectivity to North-East states is also envisaged in the Action Plan. Strict time lines for the various projects in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Assam and Mizoram have been submitted to the Prime Minister’s office in this regard. The important projects include time lines for awarding of the contracts for two-laning of trans-Arunachal Highway from Nechipu to Hoj (311 km) and Potin to Pangin (407 km) estimated at Rs.1172.50 crore and Rs.1566.25 crore respectively both on BOT Annuity basis is proposed by the end of August, 2009. Another project relating to improvement of Stillwell road in Arunachal Pradesh (33 km) on cash contract basis with a project cost Rs.91.25 crore is proposed to be awarded by 31st July, 2009. Improvement to 2-laning of NH-154 in Assam to connect to remote areas with a project cost Rs.71 crore is proposed to be awarded by 31st July, 2009. Ministry has also included plan for construction of new 2-lane highway/improvement of existing national highways to 2-lanes paved shoulders in Dibrugarh and Tinsukhia Districts (70 km.) of Assam. 

The action plan aims to give the impetus to the infrastructure sector and also addresses the critical issue of road infrastructure and connectivity in states of Jammu & Kashmir and North-East.

Railways to adopt ‘IGBT’ technology to regenerate electrical energy

Indian Railways is reaching a new milestone of approving green energy project in Mumbai. The Ministry of railways has decided to replace the existing Electrical Multiple Units (EMUs) with the new ones fitted with regenerative brakes by adopting three phase technology with Insulated Gate Bi-polar Transistor (IGBT) based system which are capable of regenerating 25 to 30 per cent of the energy used. Forty seven (12 car) rakes have been commissioned with regenerative braking system so far and 48 rakes are expected to be commissioned during 2009-10. The Designated National Authority (DNA) which is under Ministry of Environment & Forests has accorded host country approval for this project under Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) on 12th Jan, 2009. World Bank is working for registration of this project with United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 

The purpose of the project is to adopt 3 phase IGBT technology in Indian Railways for three phase EMUs in Mumbai suburban area of Western & Central Railways. These are the passenger trains which have the ability to draw electricity from the Over Head Equipment (OHE) and regenerate energy during braking. The regenerative braking feature essentially makes use of the kinetic energy that is normally lost upon braking, which can be up to 30% of one train energy requirement and converts it to reusable electrical energy, thus saving on the energy input required to operate other EMU trains running in the section. 

The regenerated electrical energy reduces the consumption of equivalent grid electrical energy required by the powering train, thereby conserving electrical energy and subsequently leading to reductions in Green House Gases (GHG). 

The project activity would result in reduced total energy consumption because of the adoption of three phase DC/AC IGBT technology with regenerative braking and result in availability of the additional power at the western grid level (Western and Central Railways in Mumbai) and will lead to power being available for other economic activity in the region. Reduced carbon dioxide emission will result in reduced global warming, a world wide concern.

SAIL signs MoUs with Defence construction agencies

New Delhi: 

Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) today signed memoranda of understanding with the Military Engineering Services (MES) and the Married Accommodation Project (MAP) of the Ministry of Defence, Government of India for assured supply of superior grade construction steel on a regular basis for their infrastructure development. SAIL will supply mainly earthquake-resistant SAIL-TMT rebars which meet the stringent physical and chemical specifications of MES and MAP. The MoUs were signed by Mr. V.K. Mehta, Executive Director (Marketing – Long Products), SAIL, Maj. Gen. Brajesh Kumar, Director General (Works), MES, and Maj. Gen. B.B. Sharma, Director General (Works), MAP, in the presence of SAIL Chairman Mr. S.K. Roongta, Director (Commercial), SAIL Mr. Shoeb Ahmed and Engineer-in-Chief, MES Lt. Gen. Gautam Dutt, VSM. 
MES is one of the largest government construction agencies in India and provides works cover to the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force. It has a large number of units spread across the entire country. MES also undertakes civil works for (Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), Coast Guard, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan and other government organisations. SAIL’s MoU with MES will be valid for all works to be executed by the latter. 

MAP is the wing which is specifically assigned to build accommodation for serving defence personnel. It has decided to build 66,727 dwellings in phase-II of its housing project for defence personnel at a cost of Rs. 9,500 crore. In phases III and IV, MAP has plans to build 36,423 and 34,073 dwellings, respectively. SAIL’s MoU with MAP will be valid for all these phases.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Roongta said that the MoUs are another milestone in strengthening the longstanding relationship that SAIL has with defence establishments. He mentioned that SAIL has developed special grade steels which are used by defence for making armoured vehicles, tanks, warships, aircraft carriers, etc. Mr. Ahmed in his address remarked that SAIL is committed to continuing this tradition and requirements for our defence establishments will get the highest priority not just in terms of supplies but also in terms of maintaining highest quality standards.

On his part, Lt. Gen. Dutt expressed satisfaction on conclusion of the MoUs which he described as "landmark agreements". He was convinced that SAIL would be able to meet all the quality specifications of defence construction steel requirements.

Through these MoUs, SAIL will benefit in terms of assured orders and the defence establishments will have the assurance of committed supplies of quality steel products on priority basis. SAIL will establish a coordination set-up that will function as a single window for all MES/MAP contractors in all zones of the country. 


Industry Solutions Division,Erlangen, Germany, June 29, 2009

Efficient generation of power from finely chopped material: Trial operation of the biomass heating and power station in Böblingen, Germany completed successfully

The new biomass heating and power station of the Zweckverband Restmüllheizkraftwerk Böblingen (RBB) in the German Land of Baden-Württemberg has now started regular operations, using finely chopped material to generate energy in a manner which is most compatible with protection of the environment. After starting in February, trials were completed successfully at the beginning of May when the performance test was carried out. The Siemens Industry Solutions Division supplied a Reject Power installation for the heating and power station. The Reject Power system also enables the use of fuels with a high water content such as screenings from wood-chip processing. The new biomass heating and power station supplies electrical energy for around 5,200 people. At the same time, the heat produced can be fed into the district heating network. Compared to the use of fossil fuels for the generation of electricity and heat, CO2 emissions are reduced by 10,200 metric tons per year.

The new biomass heating and power station of RBB supplements existing facilities for the thermal exploitation of residual materials. With the help of the Reject Power system for power generation, around 20,000 metric tons of finely chopped material that it would not be possible to incinerate in conventional facilities can be utilized every year. The finely chopped material consists of natural-wood screenings that are produced when green waste, residual wood from forests and wood left over from landscape conservation, for example, are cut up into small chips. “This facility is new territory for us”, explained Wolf Eisenmann, managing director of RBB. “For the first time in Germany, we are producing electricity and heat from finely chopped material.” We decided in favor of the Reject Power concept from Siemens, continued Eisenmann, because an Austrian paper manufacturer had already achieved very promising results with this special incineration technique.

The Reject Power installation supplied by Siemens for the biomass heating and power station consists of the combustion chamber, the waste heat boiler, a flue gas cleaning unit and the chimney as well as the electrical equipment. The heart of the system is a spinning wheel, which throws the fine wood screenings into the combustion chamber at high speed, ensures better distribution of the heterogeneous combustion material and thus guarantees complete incineration. At a temperature of up to 950 degrees Celsius, the combustion chamber converts the screenings into usable energy. With the help of the spinning wheel method, fuels with a high water content can also be used.
The Reject Power installation is designed for the thermal conversion of around 20,000 metric tons of screenings. It produces 6.4 metric tons of steam per hour with a pressure of 40 bars and a temperature of 390 degrees Celsius. A steam turbine uses the steam to generate electrical energy and provide heat for the district heating network. A power generator with an output of 700 kilowatts supplies the public grid of the community, thus supplying approximately 5,200 people with electricity. The heat is fed into the district heating network via a district heat exchanger. Due to the combination of power and heat that is produced, a fuel utilization ratio of around 80 per cent is achieved.

This Week's Raw Steel Production

In the week ending June 27, 2009, domestic raw steel production was 1,161,000 net tons while the capability utilization rate was 48.7 percent. Production was 2,154,000 tons in the week ending June 27, 2008, while the capability utilization then was 90.3 percent. The current week production represents a 46.1 percent decrease from the same period in the previous year. Production for the week ending June 27, 2009 is up 2.5 percent from the previous week ending June 20, 2009 when production was 1,133,000 tons and the rate of capability utilization was 47.5 percent. 

Adjusted year-to-date production through June 27,2009 was 26,518,000 tons, at a capability utilization rate of 43.7 percent. That is a 51.8 percent decrease from the 54,932,000 tons during the same period last year, when the capability utilization rate was 90.5 percent.

Broken down by districts, here's production for the week ending June 27, 2009 in thousands of net tons: Northeast Coast: 102; Pittsburgh/Youngstown: 83; Lake Erie: 12; Detroit: 41; Indiana/Chicago: 345; Midwest: 111; Southern: 408 and Western: 59.

(Estimate based on reports from companies representing about 50% of the Industry's Raw Steel Capability + includes revisions for previous months)

ASEAN Secretariat Initiates Business Dialogue with Japanese Private Sector


ASEAN Secretariat, 29 June 2009

The ASEAN Secretariat today unveiled a new channel for dialogue with the Japanese private sector to promote trade and investment in the region. The Secretariat will facilitate the communication between Japanese businesses operating in ASEAN with the authorities in the Member States, said the Secretary-General of ASEAN today. “There are many issues to be resolved and we would be a major facilitator for constant communications between the Japanese private sector and the ASEAN Member States,” said Dr Surin Pitsuwan. 

The Secretariat, said Dr Surin, would compile all the issues raised by Japanese businesses and channel them to the relevant authorities in the ASEAN Member States. 

Dr Surin and members of the Secretariat earlier had a business dialogue with the Federation of Japanese Chambers of Commerce and Industry in ASEAN, where they exchanged views and opinions on how to turn ASEAN into a more conducive investment area for Japan and thus attract more investment to ASEAN not only from Japan but also the rest of the world. The Federation is expected to meet annually.

Meanwhile, the Chairman and CEO of the Japanese External Trade Organization (JETRO), Mr Yasuo Hayashi, said that by conveying the messages of the Japanese private sector, through the ASEAN Secretariat, to the authorities in the ASEAN Member States, the potential of the region would be maximised.

Both men were speaking at a press conference after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the ASEAN Secretariat and JETRO. The MOU focuses on four key areas of cooperation: to strengthen the human resources capacity in ASEAN and the Secretariat; to improve the investment climate in ASEAN; to expand trade and business opportunities between Japan and ASEAN; and to alleviate poverty and narrow the development gap within ASEAN.

The MOU was signed by Dr Surin on behalf of the ASEAN Secretariat and by Mr Hayashi on behalf of JETRO.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Indian stocks best performers in 2009

By siliconindia news bureau 

Bangalore: Indian stocks emerged as the best performers by giving investors the highest return of nearly 60 percent in 2009 so far. It has outperformed its global peers, including the U.S., the U.K. and China, which gave returns of 2.33 percent, 10.17 percent and 36.77 
percent respectively. 

According to an analysis of MSCI Barra indices, Indian stocks have provided a return of 59.30 percent year-to-date, against 34.37 percent gains provided by MSCI Barra's emerging market index, covering all developing nations. 

Among the emerging BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) nations, the Brazilian and Russian markets seemed to be slight closer competitors with gains of 56.89 percent and 41.61 percent respectively in the year so far. 

The 30-share benchmark index of Indian stocks, Sensex, gained over 5,000 points in the year so far to settle at 14,764.64 points on June 26 compared to 9,600 levels on December 31, 2008. 

Other emerging markets which gave over 50 percent returns so far this year include Indonesia with 55.85 percent and Chile with 51 percent. 

Analyst believed that the decisive mandate in favor of Congress-led UPA in the recently concluded general elections helped Indian markets to rise on the positive global cues.

An analyst from a leading brokerage said, "The Indian stocks have been on a recovery path primarily in the past three months due to election results and on expectation of new government spurring the economic reforms in the country in the days to come."

Meanwhile, other developed markets including Canada gave 25 percent returns, Sweden (21.42 percent), Norway (24.70 percent) and Japan (2.45 percent), according to the data. 

Further, Indian stocks have also performed significantly better in the past three months by period up to June 26 and have given foreign investors returns of 62 percent.

Fiscal-Financial Nexus: The Challenges and Lessons of the Global Crisis

Keynote Address by the First Deputy Managing Director John Lipsky at the EUO–FAD High-Level Conference,Paris, June, 2009 

It is my honor and pleasure to welcome you to what I am sure will be an interesting and worthwhile conference. On behalf of my IMF colleagues, I want to thank you for taking the time to join us.

As I am sure you have heard already, the latest economic news from around the world gives some reason for cautious optimism. Tentative signs are emerging that the rate of decline in global output is moderating and that financial conditions are improving. While it is far too early to draw firm conclusions, this news offers positive reinforcement for the unprecedented efforts underway to resist the unprecedented challenge. After all, the breadth and severity of the financial crisis and economic slowdown are the most serious experienced since the 1930s.

Policymakers around the world have responded with flexibility and ingenuity, using all the weaponry available in their arsenal; including large-scale fiscal stimulus, very accommodative monetary policy, plus strong and often innovative support for the financial sector. The speed and magnitude of the policy response no doubt played a key role in beginning to turn around market sentiment, in slowing the decline in economic activity, and in truncating the downside risks.

These grounds for optimism surely are welcome, but caution is still appropriate: clear signs of recovery are visible in some emerging markets, particularly in Asia, but the recovery still appears to be struggling to become established in most advanced economies. In this context, ongoing policy support will be crucial in laying down firmer foundations for renewed growth, including the restoration of financial sector health. In my remarks today, I will touch briefly on near-term issues, but focus more on the medium-term vulnerabilities that could build up without careful policy design, and the related need for exit strategies.

Regarding fiscal policy, the implementation of the announced stimulus measures is an incomplete challenge, with experience varying across countries and programs. Stimulus measures in the form of tax cuts, such as the VAT rate cuts in the United Kingdom and payroll tax cuts in the United States, were implemented relatively quickly. Other measures have not been implemented as rapidly, particularly those related to spending. In the United States, for example, $46 billion or 11 percent of authorized funds had been spent through mid-May, concentrated in health and human services. In France, 11½ percent of authorized funds have been spent. In some other countries1, transfers and capital spending have risen in comparison with past years, but a complete assessment is not yet possible.

It is straightforward to conclude that the spending measures already announced must be implemented if they are to support the incipient recovery. Moreover, if the signs of recovery turn out to be a false dawn, consideration may need to be given to providing additional stimulus.

At the same time, it is appropriate for monetary policy in most economies to remain accommodative, including through unconventional measures where needed. Together with budgetary support, low policy interest rates and steeper yield curves help strengthen both financial institutions’ earnings and their balance sheets, hopefully boosting lending. Monetary policy has been relatively successful in normalizing conditions in money markets, but longer term interest rates are set mainly by market forces, not by policy. Similarly, efforts to stimulate bank lending and to restart securitization markets must contend with a lingering lack of confidence among creditors. The views of conference participants regarding revitalizing financial markets and bank lending will be most welcome.

A crucial point—and one that hopefully will be explored in the conference —is that the effectiveness of fiscal and monetary policies depend in part on the existence of a credible medium- and long-term commitment to maintain macroeconomic stability. The deployment of policy instruments to stimulate demand and to support the financial sector, together with the operation of automatic stabilizers, may have been essential to avoid a much more serious crisis. However, they will leave a legacy of fast growing government liabilities that effectively represents a journey into uncharted territory.

Today’s session on the fiscal implications of the crisis will explore the direct effect, as well as the impact of policy measures, on the fiscal positions of both advanced and emerging market countries. At present, government debt is projected to grow at a rapid pace for several years. In the case of several advanced economies, public debt will approach the highest percent of GDP since World War II. The challenge is clear: Policymakers must navigate between a premature withdrawal of fiscal stimulus that would undermine the recovery, or allowing debt to increase to levels that would cause concerns about fiscal sustainability.

As is well known, central bank balance sheets have surged from massive liquidity support and the purchase or swap of financial assets. Such a development—if sustained—eventually could deteriorate medium-term inflationary expectations while undermining the credibility of monetary policy. Moreover, these operations do not have an immediate impact on government debt, but they could need to be covered by governments if they lead to losses. Such an outcome could further exacerbate deteriorating budgetary positions. So could other contingent liabilities that result from measures taken to stabilize the financial system. The session dealing with financial sector support measures will explore their effectiveness and provide some guidance with respect to potential exit strategies.

In this context, market signals may provide useful information. In the past few weeks, advanced countries’ government bond yields have increased significantly from their late-2008 lows. For example, ten-year U.S. Treasury bond yields rose from close to 2 percent last December to around 4 percent recently. To some extent, this increase reflects expectations that the decline in activity is bottoming out, improving risk appetite, and diminishing deflation concerns.

If the yield curve steepening merely reflected the normalization of inflation expectations, this would not cause much concern, even though it would increase governments’ borrowing costs. Of much greater concern would be an additional rapid increase in bond yields, reflecting market unease about prospective large Treasury issuance and about the governments’ ability to service future debt obligations without resorting to high inflation, debt restructuring or default. This would imply higher government and private borrowing costs, with the risk of market instability and delayed recovery.

Clearly, governments will need a coherent strategy regarding how to unwind their exceptional intervention. Hopefully, conference participants will provide some insights on how governments could go about strengthening their fiscal accounts once the economic situation stabilizes, about how to downsize central banks’ balance sheets, and about how to anchor inflation expectations.

Presumably, these policy shifts will have to be implemented over time. Budget deficits will decline as economies recover but also as consolidation measures are put in place. Central banks’ balance sheets will be downsized only as demand recovers and economic slack shrinks.

The main contours of exit policies will need to be formulated clearly and coherently. Even though their implementation may not be imminent, there is no reason to delay their design. Procrastination or lack of specificity would carry the risk of declining investor confidence. Regardless, the borrowing pipeline is still full, as fiscal deficits are projected to remain high for some time.

Many countries already are taking steps to signal a commitment to fiscal consolidation. Reforming fiscal institutions can help—for example, countries could strengthen fiscal rules or frameworks, or make use of councils. For instance, Germany may adopt a constitutional amendment limiting its structural deficit to 0.35 percent of GDP from 2016; Japan is discussing new fiscal rules with the main objective of reducing the debt ratio; and the U.S. authorities are discussing the reintroduction the pay-as-you-go rule that compels new spending or tax changes to be either "budget neutral" or offset with new savings.

More needs to be done however, including addressing the looming long-term aging and health-care-related fiscal pressures. It should not be forgotten that while the crisis-related increase in public debt likely will be substantial, it is dwarfed by the size of potential liabilities that governments would accumulate in the absence of resolute and timely measures to address these prospective fiscal costs.

Of course, monetary policy eventually will have to be normalized. Moreover, if central bank independence is to be maintained, plans will be needed to transfer credit risks from their balance sheets, re-establishing a clearer demarcation between fiscal and monetary policy. Preserving government solvency also implies maximizing the recovery value of acquired assets. Moreover, as the government withdraws its temporary lifeline, a gradual transition back toward market-based intermediation will have to be engineered.

In thinking about the potential lessons of the current crisis, two areas of interest come to mind. First, the prominent role of fiscal policy in mitigating the cost of crisis has brought to the fore the importance of having enough flexibility to respond to adverse demand shocks, without undermining fiscal discipline and long-term fiscal sustainability. The legacy of the crisis—high public debt—also motivates examining the appropriate institutional and legal frameworks for fiscal policy that would support fiscal discipline.

The crisis also has raised legitimate questions about the yardsticks currently used to assess the stance of fiscal policy. At a recent IMF conference, it was documented how unsustainable asset price increases temporarily boosted tax revenue, making the underlying fiscal balance appear unrealistically strong. Thus, asset price movements can have fiscal policy implications. This is a potential topic for future research.

Second, the crisis has prompted discussion about re-examining monetary policy frameworks. There seems to be a strong prima facie case for better integration of macro-financial linkages into monetary policy considerations, and we are incorporating these linkages into our surveillance process.

I will end on a positive note: It is sometimes said that bad policies are made in good times, and vice versa. If there is some truth in this saying, then the current crisis hopefully is laying the ground for improved policies. If we are able to draw the correct lessons, we should be able to make our economies more stable, while at the same time maintaining the most valuable features of the dynamic and innovative modern market system.

Fully Spend Stimulus Money to Back Crisis Recovery, Says IMF

June  2009 

The IMF is urging governments to fully implement the spending measures they have announced to combat the global economic crisis and not to relax in supporting an incipient recovery.

“The latest economic news from around the world gives some reason for cautious optimism,” said John Lipsky, the IMF’s First Deputy Managing Director, in a speech in Paris on June 26. “Tentative signs are emerging that the rate of decline in global output is moderating and that financial conditions are improving.”

Speaking at an IMF-organized conference, Lipsky said it was far too early to draw firm conclusions. But he said this news “offers positive reinforcement for the unprecedented efforts under way to resist the unprecedented challenge. After all, the breadth and severity of the financial crisis and economic slowdown are the most serious experienced since the 1930s.”

Nevertheless, he said that ongoing policy support would be crucial in laying down firmer foundations for renewed growth, including the restoration of financial sector health.

Caution warranted

Lipsky said policymakers around the world had responded with flexibility and ingenuity, using all the weaponry available in their arsenal, including large-scale fiscal stimulus, very accommodative monetary policy, plus strong and often innovative support for the financial sector. “The speed and magnitude of the policy response no doubt played a key role in beginning to turn around market sentiment, in slowing the decline in economic activity, and in truncating the downside risks,” he told the conference.

But while clear signs of recovery are visible in some emerging markets, particularly in Asia, the recovery still appears to be struggling to become established in most advanced economies, Lipsky stated. 

Countries should not relax their fiscal stimulus measures. “Regarding fiscal policy, the implementation of the announced stimulus measures is an incomplete challenge.”

Actual spending falls short

Lipsky said that although experience varied across countries and programs, actual spending of announced stimulus measures was relatively low in many cases. In the United States, for example, while payroll tax cuts had been implemented relatively quickly, only $46 billion or 11 percent of authorized spending measures, had taken place through mid-May, concentrated in health and human services. 

“It is straightforward to conclude that the spending measures already announced must be implemented if they are to support the incipient recovery. Moreover, if the signs of recovery turn out to be a false dawn, consideration may need to be given to providing additional stimulus,” he added. 

The IMF, which has forecast an end to the recession later this year, with a recovery in 2010, will give its latest projections for global economic growth on July 7.

Boosting lending

Lipsky said that on the monetary front, despite some normalization of inflation expectations, monetary policy should remain accommodative for the time being, including through “unconventional measures” where needed. Together with budgetary support, low policy interest rates and steeper yield curves help strengthen financial institutions’ earnings and balance sheets, which would hopefully boost lending to the private sector. 

“Monetary policy has been relatively successful in normalizing conditions in money markets, but has had less influence over longer term interest rates. Similarly, efforts to stimulate bank lending and restart securitization markets must contend with a more fundamental lack of confidence among creditors,” he added.

Start thinking about exit strategies

Lipsky raised the issue of how to unwind the stimulus measures once they have been effective in reviving growth. “As the danger of a total financial system collapse has ebbed, we need to avoid new vulnerabilities further down the road. We also need to start preparing a clear exit strategy for government intervention in both the fiscal and monetary areas,” he said. 

“The deployment of numerous instruments to stimulate demand and support the financial sector, together with the operation of automatic stabilizers—all essential to avoid a much more serious crisis—leave at the same time a legacy of fast growing government liabilities and bring us to uncharted territory,”

Government debt is now projected to grow at a rapid pace for several years, and in the case of several advanced economies, approach the highest level since World War II. Policymakers must navigate skillfully between avoiding a premature withdrawal of fiscal stimulus that would nip the recovery in the bud, and, on the other hand, allowing debt to increase to levels that would cause concerns about fiscal sustainability, Lipsky added.

A Cleaner Dhaka: Reducing Industrial Pollution and Improving the Quality of Dhaka’s Watershed

Dhaka’s population is projected to reach 22 million people by the year 2025. The combination of a large growing population, high industrial growth, increasing pollutant loads and a lack of wastewater infrastructure has created a serious threat to the city’s sustainability. The river system in the watershed is being severely degraded by industrial wastes – 60% of the total pollution load comes from around 7,000 industrial units located within the Dhaka watershed and the remaining 40% from untreated domestic wastes. The heavy contamination of surface and groundwater sources is threatening the safety of water resources for municipal supplies. 

To improve the quality of Dhaka’s watershed, the Government of Bangladesh has renewed its commitment to prepare the “Dhaka Integrated Environmental and Water Resources Management Project” (DIEWRMP) with US $ 70 million funding from the World Bank.

The project, will seek to support improved management of water resources and water quality in Greater Dhaka through a series of measures in selected industrial hot spots. The project will focus on infrastructure investments for industrial waste treatment. Further, it will provide technical assistance for (i) improved environmental policy and management framework and institutional capacity, (ii) water quality monitoring and early warning systems and (iii) the promotion of pollution prevention, abatement and control measures in selected industrial clusters, including the construction of Common Effluent Treatment Plants.

Local Government Division (LGD) of the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives along with Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (DWASA) and the Department of Environment (DOE) would jointly lead the contracting of feasibility studies on water/wastewater and environmental management issues respectively.

A World Bank team reviewed with project preparation status last month. Both the Government and the World Bank team agreed that greater attention needed to be paid to institutional and policy issues to ensure sustainable and effective pollution abatement and control. In order to guide lead agencies on such issues, a multi-sectoral Project Preparation Committee (PPC) was revitalized. 

The LGD organized a workshop on May 20, 09, which brought together members of the Project Preparation Committee (PPC ) drew attention to the challenges of addressing the pollution of Dhaka’s watershed under the current fragmented institutional framework and calling for the creation of an apex body at the highest level within government to ensure a more effective and sustainable management of Greater Dhaka. 

The industrial associations showed keen interest in developing public-private engagement towards achieving sustainable improvements in the water quality of the greater Dhaka watershed. The workshop concluded that unless all key actors act in a coordinated fashion, it will not be possible to reduce the pollution and clean the rivers surrounding Dhaka city. 

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Gujarat NRE Coke declares dividend of 10%


Kolkata 27th June 2009. The Board of Directors of Gujarat NRE Coke approved the Audited Financial Results for the Year ended 31st March 2009.

During the year, the company’s turnover went up by around 75% to Rs.1522.60 crores for the year ended March 2009 as against Rs.872.15 crores for the year ended March 2008. However, in the wake of global recession, the profit after tax stood at Rs.107.23 crores for March 2009 as against Rs.172.88 Crores in March 2008. The Board of Directors have recommended a dividend of Re. 1 per share (10%) on the Equity Shares of the Company for the year 2008-09 inspite of an extremely difficult year. 

Commenting on the results, Arun Kumar Jagatramka, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Gujarat NRE Coke said, “we operate in an unique industry segment, where it neither has peers, nor is the industry and its dynamics easily understood. Suffice to say, the fortunes of the industry, which is closely interlinked with the commodity cycles of coke and steel, is highly volatile. This volatility ensures that there always remain a natural entry barrier for small, marginal players on the one hand and on the other, provides the company with an opportunity to use the downturns to invest in capacities as per the company's long term vision and prepare the ground to reap the benefits of the inevitable upturn that follows. Thus the figures do not reflect the complete picture, as the actual benefits of the large expansion and integration work that is in progress will be available in near future”.

He further went on to add that "five years back, our company had a total installed capacity of 0.2 million tonnes as compared to present 1 million tonnes, and was a standalone coke producer without any stake in coal mines or any other sort of supply security. The company's decision to think ahead and acquire coking coal mines to secure supply of its raw material and the resultant potential therefore is not reflected as the mines are currently in developmental stage and are producing less than one million tons of premium quality Hard coking coal as opposed to a targeted 7 million tonnes expected in 3-4 years time. The fact that these mines contain more than 500 million tonnes of in situ resource of world’s best premium quality hard coking coal also does not find place in the current EPS/PE calculations.

High quality hard coking coal is a resource that is globally in short supply. It is a commodity whose availability is limited and demand is projected to grow at an exponential rate. There is already a demand supply mismatch and it is expected to become more pronounced in the years to come, and the prices more and more volatile. Therefore the company being the first and the only Indian company to own and operate coking coal mines in Australia with secured supplies for the future enjoys singular benefit which few other companies around the world can lay claim to. 

Gujarat NRE Coke is the country’s largest independent producer of Low Ash Metallurgical Coke (LAMC) with a track record of regularly rewarding its Investors with dividends and bonus. Further, the Company has also plans to set up a Greenfield 1 million tonne coke plant in the Nellore District of Andhra Pradesh. And a further 1 million tonne coke plant in Gujarat besides adding another 0.25 million tonnes at Dharwad over next 3-5 years, thereby taking the total coke making capacity to at least 3.5 million tonnes. 

Besides the company already has 87.5 MW of wind power operational in Gujarat and has recently announced plans to set up further 200 MW of wind power over next 3-5 years. The Company is already in the process of setting up 60 MW of waste heat recovery co gen power plants, which are expected to be operational in 2010. The company further plans to set up 200 MW of Thermal Power plant and 120 MW of waste heat recovery power plants over next 3-5 years. The total power generation capacity would thus become 667.5 MW once these projects are complete.

Oil sector Vision 2015 for ‘Consumer Satisfaction and Beyond’

The Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Shri Murli Deora, finalized the oil sector Vision - 2015 for ‘Consumer Satisfaction and Beyond’ in a CEO Conclave concluded late yesterday evening at Goa. The Conclave was attended by the Minister of State for Petroleum & Natural Gas, Shri Jitin Prasada, Secretary (P&NG) Shri R.S. Pandey, Addl. Secretary (P&NG) Shri S. Sundareshan and CEOs of all the oil PSUs. 

  The Vision would focus on providing better services to customers which in a way means all the citizens of the country as each individual in some way or the other is a consumer of oil. The Vision with regard to the customers would cover four broad areas i.e. LPG, Kerosene, Auto Fuels and CNG/PNG. 

1. LPG: 

o Pace of new LPG connections to be increased substantially. 

5.5. crore new connections till 2015 to raise population coverage from 50% to 75%. Total number of LPG customers would reach 16 crore with most of the new connections being released in rural areas as urban areas are largely covered. Focus would be on areas where LPG coverage is low. 


  Switchover from Kerosene to LPG

o All towns with population > 5 lakh to be have 100% LPG coverage. 

o Towns to be covered in phases beginning with the metros. 

o Corporate social responsibility fund of oil PSUs to be leveraged along with the State Governments to provide support to poor households to switch over from kerosene to LPG. 

o Oil companies to approach all registered Kerosene customers in these towns directly and offer LPG connections. 

  SMS Booking/Toll Free No.

o Introduction of SMS booking in all towns with population > 5 lakh in phases beginning with metros. 

o Common toll free three digit no. Like ‘139’ for customers complaints all over India. 


  Anti Pilferage

o Introduction of Anti Pilferage device for LPG throughout the country. 

o Introduction of better quality pressure regulators. 

· Promotion of better LPG gas stoves with STAR rating for fuel efficiency. 

  Common LPG Kitchen

o Rasoi-Ghar scheme of HPCL wherein common kitchens are set up in villages to be extended to all villages in country with population > 5,000. 

o CSR funds to be leveraged for this scheme. 

Portability of LPG Connection

o Portability of LPG connections amongst oil PSUs and dealers at will of customer as for mobile phones. 

o For working couples etc. cylinder delivery at desired time with a premium for such delivery. 


  Kerosene Distribution

o To ensure that the kerosene reaches the targeted beneficiaries, distribution against biometric smart cards beginning with large urban cities. 

o Smart card programme to be implemented by all oil companies in association with the State Govts. 

  Direct Cash Transfer of Subsidy

o Possibility of direct cash transfer of subsidy on kerosene to beneficiaries a/c to be studied in rural areas and if found feasible to be expanded to other areas. 

  Packaged Supply of Kerosene


Feasibility of introducing packaged supply of kerosene in 5 litre recoverable pack to be studied to prevent diversion of PDS kerosene. 




Auto Fuels – Quality & Quantity

o Quality & Quantity – Most important for the customers. 

o Technology to be used extensively for ensuring Q&Q. 

Auto Fuels – Technology Savvy

o Retail Automation to cover all outlets selling more than 100 KL/month. 

o GPS on all fuel and kerosene tankers and utilization of this data to improve quality of service. 

o Multi fuel/Electronic dispensers with improved sealing system at all ROs selling > 100 KL/month. 

 Facility for Truck Fleets

o Vehicles servicing stations on all National Highways at every 50 km. along with rest areas and dhabas. 

o Fleet tracking service on all National Highways. 

RO Availability

o Survey to be conducted to see possibility of providing Retail Outlet/Kisan Seva Kendra within 15 km. from any citizen. 

  4. CNG/PNG: 


Some Facts

o Present coverage in 35 cities 

o 8.6 lakh PNG households 

o 5 lakh vehicles 

  VISION: By 2015, 200 cities to be covered. 


The Exploration and Production companies gave a vision to improve the oil security of the country through increased production. 

· ONGC would endeavour to double its gas production by 2015. 

· OIL would double its crude and gas production by 2015. 

· OVL would endeavour to double its crude and gas production by 2015.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Mechel Announces Signing of Contracts for Coking and Steam Coal Supplies

Moscow, Russia – June, 2009 – Mechel OAO (NYSE: MTL), one of the leading Russian mining and metals companies, announces signing of contracts for coking and steam coal supplies to Chinese, Japanese, and South Korean companies for 2009.

Mechel continues its activities to enlarge the geography of coal sales. Having an established successful experience of coal supplies to Japan and South Korea, in 2009 the company also entered the Chinese coal market having signed a number of new large contracts with local customers.

The Company have already commenced supplies of coking coal concentrate produced at Yakutugol and steam coal of various grades to China. Currently total volume of supplies for 2009 fiscal year under Mechel’s contracts with Chinese, Japanese, and South Korean companies amounts to approximately 2 million tons of coking coal concentrate produced at Yakutugol and 2.3 million tons of steam coal of various grades produced at Yakutugol and Southern Kuzbass.

Starting from 2007, Mechel also performs successful sales of iron ore concentrate produced at its Korshunov Mining Plant to China.

“China is a very promising market for us. Its steel industry continues to develop fast resulting in stable high demand for our commodities: iron ore concentrate, coking coal concentrate, and ferroalloys. Moreover, signing of the new contracts provided us with the opportunity of deeper understanding of the Chinese market and we continue the activities to enter into new agreements. It is important that supplies to China are performed by both water transport and along railways, thus the flexibility of supply chains makes additional competitive advantage for us. I would like to emphasize that entering into new large contracts with Chinese companies allows us to increase the load of our coal mining facilities that is of particular importance in the current challenging business environment”, Mechel OAO Senior Vice-President Vladimir Polin commented.

Show demonstrable progress on government priorities in first 100 days : Deora



The Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas Shri Murli Deora has called upon the Chief Executives of Oil Sector PSUs to bring about a demonstrable progress on Government’s priorities in Oil Sector within 100 days. Speaking at CEOs conclave today at Goa he said that the Government has identified some priority areas for next five years. In the Oil Sector, these include: 

(a) Implementation of the Rural LPG Distributor Scheme, which would enhance LPG coverage in the rural areas; 

(b) Road map for extending city gas services for cooking and transportation; 

(c) Acquisition of oil and gas assets abroad; 

(d) Intensifying the pace of oil and gas exploration through NELP VIII and CBM IV. 

(e) Develop a blueprint for long-distance inter-state highways leading up to a National Gas Grid. The expansion of the gas pipeline network will promote rapid economic development across the country through industrialization and employment generation. 

(f) A suitable pricing policy for sensitive petroleum products. 

Shri Deora stressed that priorities of the Government have been amply reflected in the President’s address to the Parliament and has also been emphasised by the Prime Minister. 

Pointing out the necessity to meet the people’s growing expectations, Shri Deora said that we must rise to the challenge collectively for more efficient services. He recalled that Government has protected interest of common man in the face of crude oil touching US $ 142 in July 2008 and the price modulation in 2008-09 resulted in Government sharing a burden of Public Sector Oil Marketing Companies by issuing oil bonds to the tune of Rs. 71,292 crore. “This not only protected interest of common man but also helped in keeping inflation under check and ensured the country’s progress on the high growth path”, he stressed. He complimented oil sector for this incredible feat. 

The Minister called upon the Boards of PSUs to play a leadership role in guiding them towards achievement of objective and priorities of the Government. He underlined that the Boards of all PSUs need to be equipped with requisite vision and operational powers to achieve the ambitious goals of the Government. The meeting is being attended by Shri Jitin Prasada, MoS(P&NG), Petroleum Secretary Shri R.S. Pandey and other senior officers of the Ministry besides the CEOs of Oil Sector PSUs. Shri Deora will hold a “meet the people” programme at Panaji tomorrow along with the Chief Minister and senior officers of Petroleum Ministry, Oil PSUs and the State Government of Goa. 

Following is the text of the speech of the Shri Murli Deora: 

“Shri Jitin Prasada, Minister of State in the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Sh. R.S. Pandey, Secretary, Petroleum, Sh. Sundareshan, Additional Secretary, CEOs of Oil PSUs and other Officers. 

2. I welcome you all to this important CEO conclave which has been convened to pave way for our future course of action. 

3. When the Indian basket of crude oil touched US $ 142 per barrel in July 2008, the retail selling prices were increased by only Rs.5 per litre for Petrol, Rs.3 per litre for Diesel and Rs.50 per cylinder for Domestic LPG to protect the interest of the consumers. To manage this price modulation, Government took the burden of the Public Sector Oil Marketing Companies’ (OMCs) under-recoveries and issued Oil Bonds of Rs.71,292 crore during 2008-09 while the Upstream Oil PSUs contributed Rs.32,000 crore in price discounts. Thus, price modulation of essential fuels not only protected the interest of the common man, it also helped in keeping inflation under check and ensured the country’s progress on the high growth path. Uninterrupted supplies of subsidized Domestic LPG have been maintained to more than 11 crore consumers, covering about 50% of the country’s population. For this creditable feat, I would like to compliment all the officials gathered here. 

4. On the pricing of the sensitive petroleum products, I can assure you that the financial health of the public sector Oil Companies will be protected by the Government. 

5. The confidence reposed by the people in our Government has also brought with it greater responsibility. We have to meet the people’s growing expectations for more efficient services. In the coming days, we have to rise to this challenge collectively. I would like to remind you that the manifesto of the Indian National Congress had made the following commitments relating to the oil and gas sector : 

(a) The pace of oil and gas exploration will be intensified; 

(b) India’s oil diplomacy will be pursued aggressively; 

(c) A scheme will be implemented to supply energy to poor families at affordable prices. 

6. These priorities found reflection in the Hon’ble President’s Address to Parliament on June 4, 2009. The President also spoke of “the need to push the frontiers and to question outdated practices, to bring a critical edge to governance”. The ‘Decade of Innovation’, to which the President referred, should inspire us to promote creativity and innovation in our respective areas of work. The Prime Minister has been emphasizing that equity, innovation and public accountability should be the watch words of our Government. 

7. Looking ahead, the Government has identified some priority areas for the next 5 years, on which we have to show demonstrable progress in the first 100 days of the Government. These are : 

(g) Implementation of the Rural LPG Distributor Scheme, which would enhance LPG coverage in the rural areas; 

(h) Road map for extending city gas services for cooking and transportation; 

(i) Acquisition of oil and gas assets abroad; 

(j) Intensifying the pace of oil and gas exploration through NELP VIII and CBM IV. 

(k) Develop a blueprint for long-distance inter-state highways leading up to a National Gas Grid. The expansion of the gas pipeline network will promote rapid economic development across the country through industrialization and employment generation. 

(l) A suitable pricing policy for sensitive petroleum products. 

8. Apart from the above, I would like to share with you some issues that have recently been brought into focus by the Hon’ble Prime Minister. These are : 

(a) We have to ensure that our services and programmes confer appropriate benefits on the disadvantaged groups particularly the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, minorities, women and children. I would urge all of you to address the task of plugging leakages in our service delivery with single minded devotion so that our pro-poor schemes reach the intended beneficiaries. 

(b) Work related to Parliament and its Committees should receive our undivided attention so that the people’s aspirations are brought to bear through their elected representatives. We must ensure that requests of Members of Parliament for appointment are attended to on priority basis and their letters replied to promptly. 

(c) We have to ensure that our economy continues to grow rapidly inspite of the global slowdown. We must create an environment conducive to rapid growth and also ensure that the growth process benefits all our people especially the disadvantaged section of our population. 

(d) We have to respect the spirit of functional autonomy which we have conferred on our public sector undertakings and autonomous institutions. 

9. To achieve our ambitious goals, we need to equip the Boards of all our PSUs with the requisite vision and operational powers. The Boards of PSUs should play a leadership role in guiding the management. I would urge the Board members of all PSUs to consciously strive towards the achievement of the objectives and priority areas discussed today. I would also ask the management of our PSUs to maintain a close interface with the Ministry, to ensure synergy between the Ministry and the PSUs. 

10. Through this meeting, I would like to urge the Oil PSUs to focus on the Government’s thrust areas for the first 100 days as well as the next 5 years. We are keen to listen to your plans for achieving the targets. I would encourage you to highlight the areas in which the Ministry’s intervention or assistance is required. For India to earn its rightful place in the galaxy of nations, we have to energize the ‘energy’ sector, with the right policy, action and initiative. I am sure today’s deliberations will set the tone for our future course of action to achieve our goals”.

The Chinese government is much more focused on ensuring people are employed and that its economy grows at a more reasonable rate. 

The last time China experienced such an economic downturn - when the Asian Financial Crisis hit in the late 1990s - the Chinese government cushioned the blow by providing favorable policies that were designed to stimulate more investment. But that’s not going to be the case this time. 

Instead, says the Chinese Academy of Mathematics and System Sciences (CAS), the Chinese government is much more focused on ensuring people are employed and that its economy grows at a more reasonable rate. Following years of sky-rocketing prices, housing prices in 70 major cities fell .2 percent from January to February and 1.8 percent from last year. A researcher with CAS says prices are expected to dip another 10 percentage points this year, and in some of the big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, those numbers are predicted to be more at 15 to 20 percent. 

But many agree this is not such a bad thing. China’s leaders have been trying for several years to get the cost of housing down. According to a consultant with the World Bank, prices had grown exponentially compared to the average income. In 2007, the Beijing Municipal Statistics Bureau figured the average annual income for Beijing residents to be about 40,000 yuan (around €4,200), while downtown Beijing apartments were selling at more than 10,000 yuan per m2. 

As it stands now, there are 210 million m2 of unsold homes nationally which China’s Research and Development Institute says could take at least three years to sell. As well, nearly 145,000 homes remain unsold in Beijing alone, forcing developers to cut prices in an effort to get some cash flow in. But that is apparently not enough for consumers, who continue to hold out in hopes of bigger savings. 

In its 2008 report titled “Blue Book of Urban Competitiveness,” the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences released that of the world’s 15 fastest growing cities, 10 were in China. These include Bautou and Hohhot of the northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region; the eastern Shandong Province’s Yantai, Weifang and Weihai; and Dongguan, Zhongshan and Huizhou in the southern Guangdong Province; and Wuhu and Heifi of the eastern Anhui Province. 

At the end of last year, there were 2166.7 million m2 of residential buildings under construction. That’s up from 1864.5 million m2 in 2007. Meanwhile, there was a slight dip in m2 of residential buildings ready to begin construction (31,421 m2 in 2008, down from 34,217 in 2007). It was a similar story for Inner Mongolia. There were 34,322 residential projects under construction at the end of last year – up from 29,212 the same time in 2007. And for residential buildings set to begin construction, the numbers in m2 dropped from 16,255 in 2007 to 16,156 in 2008. 

So while construction is down in China, as it is everywhere else, the Chinese economy is still faring better than most. As long as Chinese developers adjust profit margins and work to keep housing affordable, says one Chinese Academy of Sciences researcher, the market should stabilize and see improvements around 2012. 

In the meantime, builders are sitting on about 1.9 billion m2 of land that is yet to be developed, and China’s growth continues at a pace unlike anywhere else in the world. By many indicators, China’s urban population is expected to reach 926 million by 2025, up from 562 million in 2005.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Kesoram Industries shines on cement and tyres


Kolkata, 26th June 2009: Kesoram Industries Limited, the flagship company of the B.K. Birla Group, has done well during 2008-09 even while it had to contend with slowdown in the economy and an unprecedented liquidity crunch. The company with significant presence in cement and automobile tyre sectors earned a net profit of Rs 378.74 crore on a turnover of Rs 4,292 crore and EPS of Rs 82.80 per share. It is paying a total dividend of Rs 5.50 per share, including an interim of Rs 2.25 per share for 2008-09. 

Both Vasavadatta Cement and Kesoram Cement not only achieved record production of clinker and cement but they also with a great degree of success initiated a number of efficiency measures in the face of rising cost of inputs, particularly coal. Vasavadatta Cement stepped up production of cement to 39.25 lac metric tons from 32.78 lac metric tons in 2007-08. In the case of Kesoram Cement, cement production was up from 11.99 lac metric tons to 15.12 lac metric tons. 

As the two units have benefited from higher production of blended cement, the company’s focus on quality and reinforcing of the brand “Birla Shakti” have helped in achieving customer loyalty. Vasavadatta Cement has now completed expansion of cement capacity by 1.65 million metric tons at an investment of Rs 650 crore. In the meantime, capacity of Kesoram Cement was raised by 3 lac metric tons to 1.5 million metric tons in the year 2008-09. Cement sales constitute about 48 per cent of the company’s revenue. 

Though most of the last year proved to be difficult for the automobile industry and original equipment manufacturers, including the tyre industry, Kesoram’s tyre section managed to come out with flying colours with its domestic market share rising to 15 per cent from 10 per cent. The section is going through some major expansion. Its Greenfield project involving an investment of Rs 759 crore at Laksar near Haridwar in Uttarkhand has started commercial production in phases. 

The work on the radial tyre project with 100 metric tons per day capacity and Bias tyres with 125 metric tons per day capacity is progressing well. The board of directors has further given its approval to a 70 metric tons per day capacity motor cycle tyre project involving an investment of Rs 190 crore. The Commercial production at the two projects should start by January 2010. The tyre section, with a share of about 45 per cent of the company’s sales revenue, on completion of all expansion programmes, will have an overarching presence being a market leader in Truck Tyre segment. 

The company’s prospects for the current year are encouraging as the government has promised allocation of greater resources for the infrastructure sector. This should create better demand for cement. At the same time, the outlook for the Indian automobile industry is steadily improving

Travel etiquette for the travel-wise

Advice from leading online travel company Expedia® on the 
Do’s and Don’ts when travelling abroad 

Mumbai,June 2009 – While some local customs and laws might at times seem absurd to the foreign traveller, understanding other cultures in terms of what is acceptable behaviour and what might be illegal or taboo is of great importance when travelling. 

According to Expedia.co.in operated by Expedia, Inc., the world’s leading online travel company, knowing the local rules and customs of a travel destination will not only help you stay out of trouble when travelling, and avoid potential embarrassment or offence, but it can also open doors to unique and rewarding travel experiences. 

With destinations across the Far East, Middle East, Europe, Middle East and Africa becoming more popular with Indian travellers – and with customs and laws in these countries often being considerably different from those in India – being aware of local practices and mores is increasingly important.

Arthur Hoffman, Managing Director, Expedia Asia Pacific, says: “While Indian travellers are generally respectful of the cultures and laws of the countries they travel to, be mindful that what may be polite and normal in one culture may shock and offend another. Therefore, it is important to be knowledgeable and savvy about the local laws and cultural practices of the location one is travelling to.”  

Mr Hoffman also advises that, when travelling abroad, Indians should also be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear severe by Indian standards, do apply to foreigners. For instance, in some countries, penalties for drug offences and homosexual acts may incur lengthy prison sentences, corporal punishment or even carry the death penalty. He pointed out that it was important to bear in mind that Sharia (Islamic) law is still heavily enforced in some Islamic countries, while taking photographs of local people, particularly women and children, is also illegal in some countries.

“Remember the proverb: ‘Forewarned is fore-armed’. Travellers should take time to research the destinations they are travelling to, consult traveller review sites such as TripAdvisor® for helpful tips on how to behave, and be particularly mindful of advice relating to local customs. At the very least, it will prevent you from causing offence to the local and embarrassment to yourself; at the most, it could save you from a very unpleasant brush with the law,” Mr Hoffman concluded. 

 Avoiding offence: some intriguing local customs to be mindful of:

· In many Muslim countries, in particular those in the Arabian Gulf, public displays of affection, including holding hands, cuddling and kissing can be punishable by law. Women, including foreign visitors, are also required to dress modestly, including covering their head with a scarf. It is also considered rude showing the soles of your shoes or feet to others, and is advisable to accept something with your right hand. Be particularly observant of the local practice regarding drinking and eating during the holy month of Ramadan.

· In Bali, touching someone on the head is taboo, as it is regarded by locals as the abode of the soul and is therefore sacred. 

· In Singapore, failure to flush a public toilet after use may result in very hefty fines of up to US$150. This also applies to littering, smoking or spitting in the street. 

· In Egypt, expect to be offered coffee or tea whenever you meet someone, as this demonstrates hospitality. Even if you do not take a sip, always accept the beverage, as declining the offer is viewed as rejecting the person.

· In Fiji, entry into many traditional villages will require the permission of the village chief. Should permission be granted, you will be welcomed in a small traditional ceremony, which usually involves speaking with the Chief. 

· In Iran, the "thumbs up" gesture is considered an offensive insult.

· In Italy, travellers should be aware that no shorts or sleeveless dresses or shirts are allowed when visiting significant holy places, like the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel. 

· In Indonesia, it is illegal to carry the pungent smelling Durian fruit on any public transport or in hotels.

Sajjan Jindal honoured with Willy Korf/Ken Iverson Steel Vision Award

Mumbai, June: JSW Steel Vice-Chairman and Managing Director Mr. Sajjan Jindal, was on Tuesday awarded the prestigious 19th Willy Korf/Ken Iverson Steel Vision Award at the Steel Survival Strategies XXIV conference for elevating JSW Steel amongst the selected few global steel producers.

The award was present to Mr. Jindal by American Metal Market and World Steel Dynamics at an impressive function at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers, New York.

The award, named after Willy Korf and Ken Iverson is aimed to honour the memory of the two industry leaders who demonstrated tremendous vision, innovation, and willpower to alter the course of world steel, is given to individuals who have made a major contribution to the steel industry in terms of advancing change, while at the same time promoting goodwill and integrity in the industry.

Accepting the award, Mr. Jindal took a few moments to reflect on his good fortune to be in one of the world's few growing steel markets.

Mr. Jindal said that global steel production and consumption numbers for May showed that most regions were experiencing negative growth, sharply in some cases. The only exceptions were China, with "more or less flat growth" of just 0.6 percent; and India, which boasted 9.5-percent growth. "I feel very fortunate that at this time in the steel cycle I am in India and expanding our business in an expanding market," he said.

“ It is also important for the global steel industry to strengthen the supply chain if its is to come out from the present global economic crisis in a stronger and more stable state,” he added.

Attributing India’s increasing steel usage to Government policies that were providing “tremendous incentives” to the steel industry, Mr Jindal said: “The India Government’s incentives have given tremendous boost to the growth among the country’s rural masses and not just among urban dwellers.”

Elaborating on JSW Steel’s employing latest technologies at its plants in India, he said, “I am an engineer myself, so I enjoy this innovation in our plants."

Mr. Jindal added that he would be happy not to be the only one smiling at the America Metal Market /World Steel Dynamics Inc. conference in 2010. "Friends, I hope next year when we meet here the morale and the mood of the people won't be as somber as it is this year," he said.

About JSW Steel Ltd.:

JSW Steel Ltd., belonging to JSW group, part of the US $ 8 billion O P Jindal Group, is one of the lowest cost steel producers in the world. The group has diversified interest in mining, carbon steel, power, industrial gases and port facilities. JSW Steel Limited is engaged primarily in manufacture of flat products viz. H R Coils, C R Coils, Galvanised products, auto grade / white goods grade CRCA Steel, Power & Cement. Incorporated in 1994, the JSW Group has grown to US $ 3.7 billion in little over a decade. JSW Steel Limited has the largest galvanizing production capacity in the country and is the largest exporter of galvanized products with presence in over 108 countries across five continents.

Worldsteel launches Climate Action Recognition Programme

Brussels,June 2009 –The World Steel Association (worldsteel) announced today the launch of its Climate Action recognition programme. Full details are available on a new dedicated website, the climate change microsite, also launched today on worldsteel.org. These two initiatives are important supporting elements which underscore the steel industry’s commitment and effort to reduce its CO2 emissions.
The worldsteel Climate Action recognition programme recognises steel producers who have fulfilled their commitment to participate in the worldsteel CO2 emissions data collection programme. Two-thirds of the worldsteel membership took part in the first round of data collection which ended earlier this year. This was a strong start and has built confidence all the technical aspects of the project. The steel industry has agreed a common methodology which measures CO2 per tonne and will be used by all companies for all processes. worldsteel has now started to collect 2008 data, providing technical support and encouragement to members who were not geared up to respond last year.
The CO2 emissions data collection programme was launched in April 2008 and is at the core of the global steel sectoral approach advocated by the world steel industry. The programme measures the current level of emissions from the production of steel worldwide. It will enable individual steel plants to position themselves against both average and best performance and to identify scope for improvement.
Climate Action is open to all steel producers, members and non-members of worldsteel alike. Recognition can be obtained at a corporate level or at a site level as long as CO2 emissions data for more than 90% of the crude steel production of the company or the site is submitted. The recognition is valid for two years. 
worldsteel also launched its climate change microsite at worldsteel.org/climatechange.
Ian Christmas, Director General of worldsteel said, “Climate change is the biggest issue for the steel industry in the 21st century. The collection and measurement of CO2 data is a very important step for steel companies to see where they stand at the moment and also to identify future actions to improve performance. The programme has already received high level of engagement from the steel producing companies worldwide and this recognition will encourage more steel producers to join the initiative”.

ThyssenKrupp Nirosta helps reduce pollution: innovative acid recovery system installed in Krefeld cold rolling mill

ThyssenKrupp Nirosta is now using an enhanced technology to recycle the spent mixed acid from the annealing and pickling lines at the Krefeld cold rolling mill. The new regeneration system allows valuable substances to be recovered and fed back to the processing lines. "This innovative process delivers numerous benefits to the environment and our production operations and is also more cost-efficient," says Michael Fitzek, environmental officer at ThyssenKrupp Nirosta. The acid recovery system started operation in April and will reach full optimization in the summer. 

In the production process at ThyssenKrupp Nirosta, the scale on the surface of the annealed stainless steel is removed in a pickling process using a mixture of hydrofluoric and nitric acid. Over time, the pickling liquor becomes less effective and the "spent acid" has to be replaced regularly with fresh acid. Previously, the spent acid was neutralized using lime milk, the resultant sludge compacted and sent to landfill, and the waste water fed to the sewer system. In the innovative process developed by plant construction company Andritz AG, metals and regenerated mixed acid are now recovered in a thermally driven process and fed back to the pickling process. "That turns the line into a closed circuit," says Gunther Hartmann, responsible project manager at ThyssenKrupp Nirosta. "The new recycling system allows us to make substantial savings, which are urgently needed in the current situation." 

This method of acid recovery delivers advantages in many areas: Lower volumes of waste water with reduced nitrogen content mean lower pollution. Less acid and sludge needs to be transported, and the spent acid regeneration system also significantly reduces lime consumption. Moreover, acid recycling helps maintain consistent quality in the pickling process. 

Airconditioning Industry asks for maintaining CENVAT at 8% and concession for star-rated products

Refrigeration and Airconditioning Manufacturers’ Association (RAMA) recently submitted its Pre-budget memorandum to the Finance Ministry with its list of issues facing the industry that it wants to get addressed in the forthcoming budget. 

RAMA has strongly represented that CENVAT on airconditioners and key components should be retained at 8%, since the growth and profitability of the airconditioning industry has been adversely affected due to the economic recession and global meltdown.

The other requirements that RAMA have highlighted include varying abatement rates on star-rated products to encourage enhanced sales of higher star-rated products; reduction in the composite rate of service tax on erection, installation and commissioning; and collection of service tax on 70% of any AMC with material and labour components, rather than the full AMC value.

Further, RAMA has also sought an exemption on import duty on raw materials and components for products based on non ODS (Ozone Depleting Substances) technologies. Currently, production costs for the eco-friendly non ODS technologies are high due to the high cost of components such as compressors and raw materials such as refrigerant and copper tubes, and the exemption will encourage the manufacturing of eco-friendly technologies.

In addition, RAMA has sought exemption of customs duty on components and raw materials used in manufacturing airconditioners. While, fully assembled airconditioners attract no duty under the Thailand FTA, components and raw materials attract full duty. RAMA’s contention is that the current structure discourages local manufacturing and value addition since it is cheaper to import the full product. 

RAMA has also sought that the additional customs duty which is currently at 4% to be reduced to the CST figure of 2%. Further it wants the additional customs duty to be allowed as a set-off against payment of CST, when the goods are sold locally, rather than a cumbersome refund process of the same.

In the SEZ arena, only direct suppliers of goods to SEZs enjoy tax exemption, and resellers such as contractors have to incur VAT or CST on the products sold by them. RAMA has requested to amend the current practice so that suppliers don’t pay tax on inter-state purchases of goods meant for resale to SEZ units.

According to Mr S K Sinha, President, RAMA, “We are confident that the Finance Ministry will look into our concerns and address our issues in the forthcoming budget. The industry has been contributing a significant amount to the exchequer and the resolution of these issues will help the industry continue its fast-growth trajectory”