The Assam Petro-Chemicals Limited (APL) in Namrup in Dibrugarh district has incurred losses to the tune of Rs 10.08 crores in the 2019-20 financial year due to the anti-CAA protests, followed by the Covid-19 lockdown.

Addressing the media on Saturday, APL chairman Bikul Deka said, “The anti-CAA protests and Covid-19 lockdown affected our industry in a big way and we had to incur a huge loss of Rs 10.08 crores in 2019-20.”

Deka also informed that APL’s 500 TPD (tonne per day) Methanol and 200 TPD Formaldehyde plant coming up in Namrup will be commissioned in January next year.

“We have continued work in our project site during the lockdown period by maintaining all Covid-19,” he said.

Deka said that once the mega project is implemented, it can fulfill 30 per cent of the country’s methanol requirement, which now stands at around 5-6 lakh tonnes.

Methanol is one of the major chemicals traded in the Indian market.

Keeping in mind the surge in domestic requirement of methanol, the APL had decided to set up the new plant at a cost of Rs 1,709 crores.

APL managing director Atul Chandra Barman said that of the total cost of Rs 1,709 crores, Oil India Limited has contributed Rs 303 crores, the state government has provided Rs 232 crores,  Assam Industrial Development Corporation provided Rs 50 crores and Assam Gas Company gave Rs 36 crores.

APL also availed Rs 1,137 crores from a bank as a loan.

Assam chief minister, Sarbananda Sonowal had inaugurated the plant on October 3, 2017.

APL, which is the only gas-based-methanol producing plant in the state will complete 50 years in 2021.

“We also plan to import the products to Bhutan and Nepal apart from our North India market,” the APL chairman said.

“We are also eyeing the Bangladesh market, to which we catered to earlier, but had to stop due to some government regulations,” he said.

There is a huge opportunity in the M-fuel (methanol fuel) sector, which the company seeks to exploit.

India’s methanol production capacity is less than one-third of the country’s total demand.

The market is largely dependent on imports coming in from the Middle Eastern countries, which account for more than 75% of the methanol coming into India.

The main consumers of the chemical are the formaldehyde industry, acetic acid industry, methylamine and chloromethane producers.

Apart from this methanol is also consumed by methyl tert-butyl ether, N-dimethyltryptamine and the pharmaceuticals industries.

Avik Chakraborty

Avik Chakraborty is Northeast Now Correspondent in Dibrugarh. He can be reached at: babs8oct@gmail.com