Kerala firm banks on sulphur from Kuwait to survive

June 25th, 2008 - 2:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, June 25 (IANS) Travancore Titanium Products Ltd (TTP), promoted by the Kerala government, is planning to source sulphur from the Kuwait Petroleum Corp. (KPC) at rates lower than that reigning in India, a top official said. The government plans to get into a long-term agreement with KPC, industries department principal secretary P.H. Kurian told IANS. “When there is a long-term agreement, rates would be lower than sulphur available in the domestic market.”

TTP was set up in 1946 to produce pigment grade titanium dioxide from ilmenite, abundantly available on the beaches near Kollam, 65 kilometres from here.

A profit-making company till two years ago, TTP of late is struggling to survive following a huge increase in the prices of raw materials, including sulphur and petroleum products.

A year ago, one tonne of sulphur cost Rs.5,000; today it has gone up to Rs.29,500.

Likewise, the price of petroleum products has risen 40 percent over the past year.

TTP requires a monthly supply of 2,500 tonnes of sulphur to produce 3,500 tonnes of titanium dioxide.

Kurian said on account of the spiralling raw material prices, one tonne of titanium dioxide produced locally costs Rs.1,14,000, while if imported, it would cost Rs.90,000.

“At current prices, TTP ends up losing around Rs.20,000 for every tonne sold. We can’t sell above the market price,” he added.

State industries minister Elamaram Kareem admitted the problem in the assembly Tuesday. “A team from here has had discussions with KPC to see if they could supply us sulphur,” he said in response to a calling attention motion raised by K.V. Thomas on TTP.

Thomas contended that if the state government did not provide adequate financial support, it would spell trouble for the 916 employees.

“The government was requested to pump in Rs.100 million, but it sanctioned only Rs.30 million. The government has to do something immediate,” Thomas said.

Kurian, who led the team to Kuwait, said Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd, located in Kochi, also required sulphur. “We are now waiting to hear from KPC, if they could supply sulphur to both companies in one consignment,” he said.

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