OQ is an international integrated company with roots in Oman. The company operates in 15 countries and cover the entire value chain from exploration and production to marketing and distribution of end-user products. Its fuels and chemicals are sold in over 60 countries worldwide, making it pioneer in the energy sector. We met with Gilles Rochas, general manager, performance chemicals, OQ to know about their business, innovations and strategies going ahead. Here is an excerpt from the interview for The Packman Magazine.
Mahan Hazarika: Tell us in brief about your company and its activities in India.
Gilles Rochas: OQ (formerly known as Oman Oil and Orpic Group) is an integrated energy company that delivers sustainability and business excellence. Polymers and Oxo will be key areas for OQ in terms of innovation, investment and growth.
OQ brand name was launched in December 2019, after Oman Oil and Orpic Group unveiled the culmination of a year of integrating core. The new brand identity brings all of these assets together as a singular provider of energy and petrochemicals excellence that touches the lives of millions of people across the world with its products.
We are headquartered in Muscat, but with operations throughout the Middle East region and beyond, so perfectly located to serve our MENA and Indian sub-continent customers, with a broadening portfolio. The OQ strategy is that we want to be closer to the customer and offer them access to our broadened portfolio. This has been further helped through the opening of a new sales office in Mumbai last year.
Mahan Hazarika: How will industrial packaging materials play a role in finding solutions for circular economy and sustainable materials management?
Gilles Rochas: There are many ways in which plastics have a role to play in a circular and sustainable framework. It’s a matter of working together with innovators to ensure that we don’t just follow the headlines but lead the way. Sustainability is very important to our vision as a whole. This is why we have a growing R&D team focused on helping partners to meet their sustainability challenges.
We believe that sustainability starts at home. We have partnered with the Omani government, ministry of environment and climate affairs, academia, NGOs and the private sector in order to introduce re-usable plastic bags into the country to reduce the use of single use plastic bags. Furthermore, we recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) to facilitate a research project on the conversion of plastic waste to industrial process raw material.
Our Luban brand of polymers, which has been in the market for more than a decade and is now available in over 60 countries, is a great example of how polymers supports a circular economy. The Luban range offers enhanced performance and cost savings opportunities for manufacturers. It includes the newly launched Luban HP1102LC homopolymer PP, which helps to address the demand for more efficient and sustainable solutions in industrial packaging.
Mahan Hazarika: What are innovative polymers? Tell us about the growing global demand for innovative polymers?
Gilles Rochas: Innovative polymers are about pushing the applications boundaries for plastics. It is about optimizing or combining polymers such as polyethylene and polypropylene for maximum efficacy, strength, efficiency and sustainability.
There are so many areas where polymers can still serve as a great alternative to more traditional materials like glass, wood and steel. Where proper recycling systems are in place, polymers are a sustainable solution and despite the current headwinds, there is a strong future for them.
Mahan Hazarika: How is your R&D helping you to make innovative products?
Gilles Rochas: Our offices provide great technical support right on our customer’s doorstep. We work closely with our customers and their technical specialists, so that we can help them. It’s about true partnership in solutions for plastics.
Our expanded grade slate is really allowing us to make more possible. We demonstrate how our PE and PP products are leading to applications in the following industries: Packaging, infrastructure, household & appliances, agriculture, automotive, and healthcare. combining agility, innovation and state-of-the-art technology, we develop game-changing specialty solutions for customers in the plastics industry. We also highlight our Oxo products, which adds value to inks and plasticizers for various industries.
Mahan Hazarika: What are the latest trends impacting the packaging and polymers industry?
Gilles Rochas: There is growing demand for lightweight packaging solutions that reduce material costs, improve efficiency and help manufacturers address sustainability targets. OQ is all about embracing momentum, new horizons and opportunities, such as the huge potential that is opening up for polymers to address ever-growing demand for lightweight packaging. At the same time, food safety and security remain critical topics globally.
Our work together with Milliken is a great example of how complementary additive solutions can help to reduce energy consumption and, therefore, cut back on emissions. In 2018, we launched a new thermoforming grade (Luban HP1151K) to increase both productivity and the overall performance of transparent thermoformed cups, trays and containers. The polypropylene thermoforming grade is based on Milliken’s nucleating innovation Hyperform HPN-600ei.
Mahan Hazarika: How do you help boost food security?
Gilles Rochas: Food safety is a critical topic in consumer packaging, where reliable polymer solutions can help protect food and extend shelf-life. OQ products undergo regular and stringent testing to help ensure that safety standards are maintained for food grade applications. We have gained US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approval for all existing Luban grades. We listen to our customers in the food packaging segment and understand their concerns around food safety and hygiene. We are leveraging innovative plastic solutions to keep food fresh for longer, leading to less waste.
We even take it a step further and go back to the beginning of the food cycle. By adopting innovative Luban LLDPE polymers in Agriculture applications such as greenhouse films and drip irrigation tubes, crop yields can be boosted and food security improved. Agricultural products harvested also last longer through the use of the right plastic packaging solutions, leading to less wastage.