By KUNLE KALEJAYE
Nigeria is set to make history as plans have been concluded for the foundation laying ceremony of the $1.2 billion world largest gas-to-urea fertilizer plant project.
The promoters of the fertilizer plant, Indorama Eleme Petrochemical Plant, said the launch of the plant is expected to kick-start an agricultural revolution in the country.
It would be recalled that President Goodluck Jonathan had promised to support the project because of the huge impact it would have on the country’s agricultural sector and the creation of employment opportunities for Nigerians, when he was informed about it in 2011.
Indorama’s Managing Director, Mr. Manish Mundra, was quoted in the company’s in-house journal, IMPACT, made available to Vanguard, as saying that a date is being expected for this all-important ground-breaking ceremony.
“When completed, the project would deliver high quality fertilizers to Nigerian farmers, thereby helping Nigeria to boost agricultural output and enhance food security,” he said.
The fertilizer plant, with a capacity for 1.4 million metric tonnes of Urea, Ammonia and NPK fertilizers per annum, would be the world’s largest single-stream gas-to-urea plant, said the Technical Director of the project, Mr. Uptal K. Chatterjee.
He explained that the plant, which is expected to be completed in Q4 of 2015, is geared towards transforming Nigeria from a major importer to a key exporter of fertilizer.
Funding the project
The project worth US$1.2 Billion has already attracted huge financing from many international and local financial institutions, revealed the Finance Director, Mr. Munish Jindal.
He further explained that on February 18th, the Indorama Eleme Fertilizer and Chemicals Limited (IEFCL), and its financiers sealed a $1.2 billion financing arrangement in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, UAE, adding that the sum of $800million is in loans while the balance of $400million is in equity.
According to Jindal, the financial partners involved in the $800 million loan syndication included the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Standard Chartered Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB), Africa Export Import Bank (AFREXIM BANK), Bank of India, as well as the KFW and DEG of Germany.
Others are the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) of the United Kingdom, FMO Entrepreneurial Development Bank of the Netherlands, and Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund. The Nigerian banks are United Bank for Africa (UBA), StanbicIBTC Bank, Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB), and Access Bank
At the signing ceremony, the Group Managing Director of Indorama Corporation, Mr. Amit Lohia, described the fertilizer project as “A breakthrough project in Africa,” noting that the project will make high quality fertilizer affordable for the vast majority of Nigerian farmers who have been frustrated by the lack of quality and adequate fertilizer.
“We are very anxious to start the construction of this plant and we believe that it is going to be a world class facility operation and make Africa stand out in the agricultural landscape,” Lohia said.
He noted that it was a big challenge to bring together a consortium of many lenders to agree on common terms, and thanked them all for believing in the commercial and social viability of the fertilizer project.
“Nigeria is rich in hydrocarbon, yet you find that it continues to import a bulk of its fertilizer requirements; a country with tremendous arable land, rich agricultural sector continues to import a bulk of its fertilizer requirement,” he added.
Speaking on the partnership with Indorama on the project, IFC’s Senior Manager for Manufacturing, Agribusiness, and Services, Mr. Carsten Mueller, said Indorama’s pedigree in massive, large scale manufacturing operations and its commitment to Nigeria’s development wooed the IFC to commit to the partnership.
He said, “IFC’s investment in Indorama Eleme Fertiliser adds value and makes use of existing natural resources, helping Nigeria expand its manufacturing base while improving food security.