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Dangote fertilizer plant to intensify FG’s agric development agenda

The federal government’s drive to diversify the economy by developing the agricultural sector will be boosted when the Dangote Fertilizer Plant becomes operational.

It has been said that the country will be saving a whopping $500 million annually on fertilizer imports as the first indigenous fertilizer plant comes on stream very soon. Dangote Industries Limited is constructing the largest fertilizer plant in West Africa, which is located at Lekki Free Trade Zone, Lagos, Nigeria, with a capacity of about 3.0 million tons of urea per annum to put to an end to several hundreds of billions of naira Nigeria spends on fertilizer import.

The company said the benefits of the fertilizer plant to the economy are enormous. Apart from the $500 million annual savings from import substitution, it will provide another $400 million from export of fertilizer products.

There will also be several job creation opportunities from the project. There will also be several job creation opportunities from the project. Dangote says during construction of the complex,  about 4,000 to 5,000 jobs will be directly and indirect created for workers of all categories, 500 permanent direct jobs and up to 5,000 jobs indirectly to be created in the community such as support services.

It is also expected to spur activity in the banking sector, while security of local supply of fertilizer will be guaranteed. “Supply of fertilizer will be enough for Nigerian market and neighboring countries,” the company said.

Speaking at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and Nigeria Institute of Public Relation (NIPR) members facility tour of Dangote oil refinery and fertilizer project in Lagos recently,  group executive director, Strategy, Portfolio Development & Capital Projects, Dangote Industries Limited,  Devakumar Edwin said that the refinery complex which includes a refinery, petrochemical plant, a fertilizer plant and a subsea pipeline project, is the largest single-train refinery in the world, saying that the refinery’s daily production capacity would be 150 per cent of the current total demand of petroleum products in Nigeria, with the excess exported to other countries.

According to him, with a 650,000 barrels per day capacity and 838 KTPA Polypropylene plant, the refinery segment of the business on completion will become the largest single train petroleum refinery in the world while the  three million tons per annum capacity Urea fertilizer plant will emerge world’s second largest.

He said: “The gas project has the largest sub-sea pipeline infrastructure more than any country in the world as it boasts of 1,100km to handle 3.8 million SCF gas per day. World scales gas treatment stations are expected to emerge after the completion of the project.”

He stated that the Dangote fertilizer project which is estimated to gulp $2billion is the largest granulated Urea fertilizer complex to emerge in the entire fertilizer industry history in the world, with its three million tons per annum capacity. He pointed out that the fertilizer complex which sited on 500 hectares of land has the capacity to expand as it is only occupying a small fraction of the allotted portion. Natural gas being the main raw material for the plant is being expected to arrive anytime in May 2019 for the fully completed train one plant to commence operation.

He explained that Saipem Italy is the engineering procurement, procurement and construction contractor for the project while Tata Consulting Engineers, India, is the project management consultants for the fertilizer project. Meanwhile, Chevron has the contract to supply natural gas for production activities in the plant.

He said: “The management of the complex are confident that the fertilizer business will deliver good profit to the company and its shareholders as it is projected that population growth and the need for food production will jack up the consumption of Urea fertilizer beginning from 2020 when production of the production would have commenced in earnest.

“The current consumption of Urea estimated at a dismal 700,000 tons per annum by Nigerian farmers is said to be due to very poor hectare usage is believed to be the cause of poor product yield, which threatens food security in the country.

“By 2020, Nigerian population is projected to increase to about 207 million which would lead to increased food production. Estimates points out that around five million tons of fertilizers are required per year in Nigeria in the next five to seven years bifurcated into 3.5 million tons of Urea and 1.5 million tons of NPK while current production levels in Nigeria are at 1.6 million tons by 2019.”

Beyond fertilizer and oil, Edwin said that Dangote is setting up large oxygen and acetylene plant in Nigeria to produce wielding gases since the current production capacity of this product is not sufficient to meet the demand in the wielding industry.”

Also, recently at the visit of Central Bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, to the ongoing Dangote Refinery, Petrochemicals, Fertilizer projects and Dangote deep-water jetty, president, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, said the project would definitely transform the Nigerian economy. “We have a couple of projects at hand and we will continue with these transformative projects. The biggest problem we have in Nigeria is that we currently import more than we produce like any other African countries. But, by the time we finish our fertilizer plant, Nigeria will be the largest exporter of fertilizer in Africa. We will also be the largest exporter of petrochemicals and the largest exporter of petroleum products in the whole of Africa. This is a major transformation.”

He said the three billion Standard Cubic Feet gas pipeline and other Dangote Projects are geared towards Nigeria’s economic transformation. Dangote commended CBN for its moral support to the refinery project, saying “There are lots going on in Nigeria. We want the CBN to support us like what it did in cement sector, which made Nigeria not only self-sufficient in the production of cement, but it became an exporter of the product. Today, Nigeria will not even import cement because we no longer have capacity for importation of cement.”

The International Fertilizer Development Centre (IFDC) has predicted an exponential increase in fertilizer consumption by Nigerian farmers as a result of the remarkable improvements in the local blending of the input under the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative of the federal government.

According to a report recently released by the IFDC in collaboration with the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and other international agencies, fertilizer uptake by Nigerian farmers increased by 63 per cent in 2017, rising from 959,364 metric tons in 2016 to 1.56 million metric tons.

Source: Leadership