A new fertilizer plant has been started in Eleme, near Port Harcourt, Rivers State, at the cost of N976 billion ($3.2bn). The Senate president, Bukola Saraki, laid the foundation stone of the plant.
The host governor, Nyesom Wike, who used the opportunity to tell investors of the safety of Port Harcourt and the preparedness of the administration to restore confidence of the business community in the oil-rich state, assisted him.
The Indorma-Eleme Fertilizer and Chemicals Limited (IEFCL) is building the new plant, the new majority equity owner of the Eleme Petrochemicals Limited (EPL), formerly owned by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Indorama bought the EPL in 2006 and rebuilt to new efficiency levels with almost 100 percent production levels. They later obtained funding from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to built a fertilizer plant that now produces 4,000 metric tons of Urea fertilizer per day or 1.5 million per annum, which it supplies to Nigerian farmers nationwide, and exports the surplus.
Now, the company has flagged off construction of its second fertilizer of 1.5mmt plant to shore up its position as leader in the fertilizer and chemicals industry while looking back at competition from Notore (formerly Nigerian Fertilizer Company, NAFCON) and looking ahead at the coming of the Dangote plant in petrochemicals, refinery and fertilizers.
Indorama-Eleme produces urea but looks to its newly acquired fertilizer plant in Senegal (ICS) for phosphate and sulphuric acid to produce NPK of different grades according to soil type to boost farm yield in Nigeria and for export. The company has capacity to produce 1.4mmt but and plans to boost production of urea in Nigeria and phosphate in Senegal to become the biggest fertilizer company in the world.
At the foundation-laying event in Eleme, sources present at the ceremony said the Senate president tacitly endorsed the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, for a second term when he declared he would be in office in 2021, when the Train 2 of the fertilizer plant would be commissioned. Indorama has always met its deadlines since it stepped into the petrochemicals plant in Eleme.
Performing the flag off, Saraki said with $3.2 billion invested in Rivers State by the foreign investors, it showed that Rivers people were receptive to investors. “I am congratulating the people of Rivers State for creating the right environment for this investment. I like the example that Rivers people are setting for others to follow,” he said.
He noted that the successful production of urea in Rivers State, which is used mostly by northern farmers, underscores the need for national unity. “Urea Fertiliser products are used by farmers, especially in northern part of the country. That tells us that we must unite. We must support ourselves irrespective of party affiliation. Without peace, there will be no urea. For all of us in Nigeria, let’s work in the interest of our country.”
The Senate president said Nigeria cannot diversify the economy without developing the agricultural sector. While commending the management of Indorama, the Senate President noted the National Assembly would support the growth of the plant.
In his address, Wike said that Indorama has performed creditably through quality investments in the state, assuring of a peaceful environment for the protection of Indorama’s investment. “We are beneficiaries of the dividends of Indorama Eleme Fertiliser and Petrochemicals Limited. We are happy with the management of the company”.
He went on: “”If an investment of $3.2billion can be in Rivers State, how can anyone say that Rivers State is not safe. The Nigeria you are hearing is Rivers State.”
Managing director of Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals Limited, Maniah Mundra, said the foundation stone ceremony of the second train project would produce 1.5million metric tonnes of urea fertilizer per year.
He said it was a replication of the first train, which also has capacity for 1.5millilon metric tonnes. Mundra said this would bring Indorama fertilizer production to 3million metric tonnes.
Mundra had once told BusinessDay thus: “We strongly feel that in about three years of steady supply of all grades of high quality fertilizers at transparent prices, the usage will grow and the demand will grow to over one million metric tonnes. We expect per-hectare use to increase so that we get to 2 to 3 million metric tonnes of fertilizer use in Nigeria.”
At the flag off, he said the company had invested $3.2 billion over the years. According to him, that is the highest investment by any foreign investor in the last 25 years.