GUWAHATI, July 21 - The Assam Petrochemicals Limited (APL), one of the first petrochemicals company in the country, is facing severe financial crisis, forcing the State government to request the Centre to provide natural gas to the company at concessional rate to ensure its survival.
In a letter to Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, the State Minister for Industries and Commerce, Chandra Mohan Patowary said that the APL is a State government undertaking, which produces methanol from natural gas available in the oilfields of the State.
The company, which was incorporated in the year 1971, started production in 1976. It now employs around 1,500 persons, while more than 5,000 persons are getting indirect employment. The company has also been contributing to the economy of the State.
Patowary pointed out that up to 2005, the administered price of natural gas to the industrial units of the State was subsidized to make the units viable in the face of geographical isolation, infrastructure bottleneck, lack of available market in the region, etc. However, the withdrawal of subsidy, coupled with increase of the price of gas has seriously affected the APL.
The Minister further said that the drastic reduction of imported price of methanol in the last 18 months has also added to the problems of the APL and the company is finding it hard to survive.
He pointed out that the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas offers special price to the units producing power, fertilizer, etc. As the APL is the only petrochemical company in the North East other than the Gas Cracker project, which is yet to start commercial production, the Government of India should provide gas at concessional rate to the APL, which should be made applicable with effect from 2005.