Sorfert Algeria fertilizer plant start-up delayed until Q2

01 March 2013 14:15  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Urea production at the new $2bn (€1.54bn) Sorfert Algeria fertilizer plant in North Africa has been delayed until at least the second quarter of 2013, a source at Egyptian parent company Orascom Construction Industries (OCI) disclosed on Friday.

The facility was due to start manufacturing granular urea later this month, but a delay in the issuing of a government permit for the start-up of the plant’s second ammonia line has caused the commissioning date to be pushed back several weeks, said the source.

"The first ammonia line has started but the second has yet to be granted the necessary environmental permit by the Algerian authorities," the source, a Netherlands-based senior executive, explained. "We expect it will take two months for the first urea to be produced, so the early part of Q2 is what we are now targeting. Once the second ammonia line is up and running we can then obtain the final permit that covers the whole plant."

Located in the industrial zone of port city Arzew, Sorfert Algeria will produce 800,000 tonnes/year of merchant ammonia and 1.2m tonnes/year of urea for export once fully operational. OCI holds a 51% stake in the joint venture, with Algeria's state-owned oil and gas producer Sonatrach possessing the remaining 49% share.

According to the source, OCI has "signed long-term urea and ammonia supply deals with several buyers", but declined to reveal any names or where the buyers are based. However, he did confirm that it is still "too early" to determine the volume and frequency of potential spot ammonia and urea cargoes that will be produced at the plant.

He added the plant will initially focus on urea production, which uses ammonia as its key feedstock, although both nitrogen fertilizers should be available for export in the next few months.

($1 = €0.77)

By: Richard Ewing
+44 208 652 3214

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