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Fuel to the fire: Is Adani challenging Ambani?



Adani Enterprises recently announced that it has incorporated Adani Petrochemicals Ltd. (APL) as a wholly-owned subsidiary to “carry on the business of setting up refineries, petrochemicals complexes, speciality chemicals units, hydrogen and related chemical plants and other such similar units”.

Billionaire Gautam Adani’s ports-to-energy conglomerate has floated a new subsidiary that will set up refineries, petrochemical complexes and hydrogen plants – businesses that will directly compete with Mukesh Ambani’s company.

The conglomerate has operations spanning seaports to airports to electricity generation and transmission, renewable energy, mining, natural gas, food processing, defence, and infrastructure. And now it is foraying into petrochemicals and other related areas, which will directly compete with Ambani’s Reliance.

Reliance Industries Ltd. is the largest producer of petrochemicals in the country and amongst the top 10 in the world. It also owns and operates the world’s largest oil refining complex.

In June, Ambani announced a mega Rs. 75,000 crore investment in setting up four ”Giga factories” to make solar modules, hydrogen, fuel cells, and to build a battery grid to store electricity over the next three years. The solar modules will enable 100 gigawatts of solar energy by 2030.

Adani, who earlier this year took his spot behind Ambani as Asia’s second-richest man, has previously announced plans to become the world’s largest renewable energy producer by 2030. He has got France’s Total Energies SE as a partner in Adani Green Energy Ltd. – the group’s renewable arm. The French giant has also invested directly in some of the projects in the firm’s 25 gigawatts solar-energy portfolio.

The Adani Group had in January 2019 signed an initial pact with German chemical giant BASF for investing about 2 billion euros in a chemical factory at Mundra in Gujarat. This was expanded in October that year by involving Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) of UAE and Borealis AG.

The four partners completed a joint feasibility study for a USD 4 billion chemical complex in Mundra which was to comprise of a propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant, a polypropylene (PP) production and an acrylics value chain complex, according to a BASF press statement of November 5, 2020. This project was however put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adani Enterprises in April this year incorporated a wholly-owned arm ”Mundra Petrochem Ltd” (MPL) intending to “set up various feedstocks (coal, petrol, limestone, salts, sand, tar, oil, LPG, LNG, Ethane, LPG, green fuels etc.) based refinery, petrochemical and chemical plants in a phased manner in India and to undertake all such activities associated with land acquisition, design and engineering, procurement… and other related undertakings”.

It isn’t clear if MPL was incorporated as a follow up of the 2019 pact with BASF and others, and if the new subsidiary will set up plants at sites other than Mundra.

Adani Petrochemicals Ltd is one of the numerous subsidiaries Adani groups has incorporated since the beginning of this fiscal, with interests ranging from road construction to power transmission and wind turbine manufacturing. The conglomerate had ventured into the cement business in June with its new subsidiary Adani Cement.