Kochi: The Union government’s decision to divest its entire stake in Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) has created apprehensions over the fate of the nearly Rs 16,500-crore projects for import substitution petrochemical products, having huge potential for manufacturing a slew of downstream products, by Kochi Refinery coming under the PSU.
The petrochemical products from the company are expected to save foreign exchange to the tune of Rs 13,000 crore a year.
The BPCL-Kochi Refinery, the largest public sector undertaking in Kerala, has already commenced the trial run of its Rs 5,246-crore propylene petrochemical plant before its formal commissioning by December. The refinery is also moving ahead with the Rs 11,300-crore polyol project, with the target of commissioning in 2023.
The refinery has made a foray into petrochemicals as part of the Integrated Refinery Expansion Project (IREP) to enhance the refining capacity to 15.5 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) from the levels of 9 MTPA and make it the largest PSU refinery in the country.
The Centre’s decision late Wednesday has also raised a question mark on the fate of an ambitious project by the state government to set up a petrochemical park in Kochi. The petrochemical park has been envisaged based on the availability of import-substitution raw materials for manufacturing a large number of products having wide use in industries such as paints, water treatment, super absorbent polymer, detergent, adhesives, solvents and plasticisers.
The petrochemical complex of the Kochi Refinery is located in 170 acres bought by the company from the Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd (FACT).
The state government is also setting up a park dedicated for petrochemical products in 470 acres.
Many political leaders in the state have opposed the Centre’s decision to sell off BPCL while the state government has written to the Centre on the matter.
Congress MPs Benny Behanan and Hibi Eden from Kochi have asked the Union government to withdraw the decision while members cutting across political parties in the state Assembly opposed the move a few days ago.