The All Indian Industrial Gas Manufacturers Association (AIIGMA) held their 28th annual conference in New Delhi on the 27/28th January. Over 250 delegates attended the conference, 20 of which came from as far away as the US, Australia, Europe and the Middle East - gasworld was there to cover the event.

The Conference
Mr Khator \\$quot;“ President of AIIGMA, welcomed delegates to the conference and presented the theme of the 2 day meeting, \\$quot;Gas - Key to the 21st Century Growth\\$quot;. He stated that the industrial gases business had grown rapidly over the 30 years AIIGMA had been formed and especially in the past 5-10 years in which the industry has seen the entry of major international gas companies and the Indian economy reach consistent levels of growth of between 7-8% (GDP).

The size of the Indian industrial gases business in India was estimated by AIIGMA to have reached Rupees 3000 Crore (US$ 670m) and is growing at 2 times GDP. According to Khator, this places India as the 18th largest market for gases worldwide \\$quot;“ however, the growth forecast for India could well boost the market to reach the 5th or 6th largest in 20 years.

However, there were a number of concerns for the industry \\$quot;“ some of which needed to be addressed by Government. These concerns included the need for uninterrupted power supply \\$quot;“ parts of India , especially in the West, suffer from brown outs and in some cases black outs and for an energy intensive business like industrial gases this needs to be addressed. Further more, taxation of the business was non-uniform and was hindering growth. While there was a recognition that import duty had been reduced from 120% in the late 1980s to the 15% level now \\$quot;“ this was affecting those companies needing to import quality equipment. Secondly, the treatment of gases for taxation (VAT) was also different across the States of India and the government needed to look at this.

He also expressed a desire to see the road infrastructure improve which would greatly improve distribution of gases throughout India and finally, cylinders made to internationally accepted standards and correct certification was also needed.

Inox India and Cryostar discuss///

He introduced the main AIIGMA guests, Mr Hoda \\$quot;“ a member of the Ministry for Planning, Mr Narash Chaturvedi, Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Guest of Honour was Mr Anbunathan, Chief Controller of Explosives (which is responsible for overseeing and applying the technical and safety standards with in the industrial gases business in India). Mr Anbunathan stated that current papers had been produced on the future IS (Indian Standards) for steel and aluminium cylinders and that one for composite cylinders was in process. The Dept. of Explosives had to issue new standards related to steel and aluminium cylinders due to technological advancements and new standards being applied in Europe and elsewhere. There is no current standard for composite cylinders and the only company that has been granted a licence to sell composite cylinders in India is Luxfer. Clearly this market will be opened up once the paper and directive has been issued.

Following the guest speakers speeches the technical papers were presented to the conference, which included papers on use of ozone in drinking water and the pulp and paper industry; Praxair India on the growth of the gases business in India and the future drivers and an interesting talk from the Executive Director of the Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) that is looking at two major technological issues \\$quot;“ carbon sequestration and hydrogen.

Ms Leonnie Marshall from Luxfer gave a very interesting presentation of high pressure composite cylinders and testing procedures and certification. Luxfer being one of the largest producers of aluminium and composite cylinders worldwide. Cryolor, via their agent Cryolin gave a paper on safety and economy in bulk cryogenic transportation, providing details of their experience in bulk liquid transportation and the technological development to improve safety.

The day was finished off by respective gas companies providing some insight into the regional development of the industrial gases business in India.

On the second day, more technical papers were presented which included one from Mr Sean Hardy of Cryostar UK, who presented on the developments in cryogenic pumps and its installation. Other papers were presented which looked more towards the future. These included an interesting paper by Mr Parag Kulkani, MD of Inox India, on the future demand for gases by the Indian Space Research Organisation which has several launches planned in 2006 and 2007.

The main sponsors of the event this year were Praxair India Ltd, the largest gas company in India.

The Future
The conference was wound up with confirmation that the Indian industrial gases business is in a healthy position and is likely to see continued double digit growth over the next 5 years. Steel and petrochemicals are seen as the main drivers to gas volume growth but food processing, electronics and medical sectors were seen as critical areas for growth as well. Steel production in India is expected to grow from 38 million tons in 2005 to over 120 million in 2020. New refining and petrochemical capacity is also planned which will require both large quantities of oxygen and nitrogen.

The Exhibition
As always there is a small exhibition that takes place in the reception area of the conference. Several companies took the opportunity to exhibit their technologies. Those exhibiting included Cryolor (via their agent - Cryolin) and Mr Michael Blondin, Sales & Marketing Director was present to support a paper presented by Cryolin and finalise a major order for road tankers.

Cryostar SA was present to promote their range of cryogenic machinery and a technical paper on cryogenic pumps. They shared a stand with Inox India Ltd, the largest cryogenic tank and tanker equipment manufacturer in India who also is an important exporter of quality equipment to the region (Middle East, South Asia and SE Asia).

VRV SpA, the Italian producer of cryogenic tanks, tankers and owner of CryoDiffusion of France were exhibiting for the first ever time in India. Mr Jan Van Houwenhove stated he was pleased with the response to this first visit VRV to India.

Among the exhibitors were Ramu Cylinders \\$quot;“ who have recently built a state of the art steel cylinder production line and have begun production of cylinders at the end of 2005 and has the capacity to produce 300 000 cylinders a year.

Another international equipment supplier present was Luxfer Cylinders, the aluminium and composite cylinder manufacturer, exhibiting via the company\\$quot;s agent Uttam Air Products. Chart Industries were also present with their agent, Shell-u-Tube showing a liquid cylinder unit and associated filling hoses.

The conference and exhibition ended on the Saturday afternoon and by the reaction of the participants and delegates was viewed to be a big success. At the AGM that followed the conference, a new Management Committee was elected for the 2006/7 year and more details of that will be available in the next few days.