India: Customized Fertilizer Plant in Ahmednagar

The State Government-controlled Maharashtra Agro Industries Development Corporation Ltd (MAIDC) would be the lead project manager in the setting up a customized fertilizer plant in the Ahmednagar district, the largest of the Maharashtra state in western India, on a public-private partnership basis.

Customized fertilizers are prepared by enriching regular fertilizers like urea, DAP and potash with micro nutrients (sulphur, zinc, and boron); they are customized for specific soil, crop and water conditions. Although they are 40 to 50 per cent more expensive than regular fertilizers, they tend to increase crop yield by up to a 100 per cent.

MAIDC is already manufacturing granulated mixed fertilizer and pesticides. They will first set up a pilot plant with an investment of about US$ 9.1 million. Depending on whether it is successful or not, the project would be scaled up eventually.

Years of intensive agriculture using standard fertilizers has reduced soil fertility. Customized fertilizers is one of the solutions for gaining back soil health. All major fertilizer players have announced plans for setting up customized fertilizer plants. Tata Chemicals has taken the lead by setting up a facility for manufacturing customized fertilizers with an annual capacity of 1.3 lakh tonnes at Babrala in Uttar Pradesh.


Iran: The IRGC and the Natural Gas Projects

The energy sector is Iran’s richest source of revenue, accounting for around 80 percent of the country’s exports. The IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) is the largest single contractor in the Iranian oil and gas sectors today.

Thanks to its growing political power, the economic and development wing of the IRGC, known as Khatam al-Anbia (Seal of the Prophets), has in recent years obtained a series of multi-billion dollar contracts in the energy sector in Iran.

These include, for example, a US$ 2.5 billion contract for the development of phases 15 and 16 of the massive South Pars gas field, which straddles Iran and Qatar. The Guard is also set to build a 900-kilometer gas pipeline for transporting natural gas within Iran – a project worth US$ 1.3 billion.

Through its control of the relevant ministries, the IRGC in effect awards these projects to itself. No process of competitive tender takes place.

Unites States: Egyptian OCI Plans a New Nitrogen Fertilizer Plant

Egyptian-based Orascom Construction Industries (OCI) wants to build a new nitrogen fertilizer plant on 318 acres of farmland along old U.S. 6 near Walcott, although they are also looking at three other Iowa sites – Lee County, Middletown and Clinton – as well as a site in central Illinois near Pekin. The plant would be built by Orascom’s subsidiary Iowa Fertilizer Co., would be its second United States fertilizer plant. In 2011, Orascom purchased Pandora Methanol LLC in Beaumont, Texas. The plant was renamed Orascom Beaumont and produces methanol and ammonia.

OCI is a leading international fertilizer producer and construction contractor, which traces its roots to a small family-run construction business, but today it is one of Egypt’s largest corporations with projects and investments across Europe, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. It operates five fertilizer production sites in the United States, Egypt, the Netherlands and Algeria, producing 7 million metric tonnes per year of nitrogen, 0.75 metric tonnes annually of methanol and 0.25 metric tonnes annually of melamine. They are active in 25 countries across the globe, employing 72,000 people worldwide and about 13 percent of its stock is owned by United States investors. The company has plans to split its construction and fertilizer businesses into two companies, a move approved unanimously by its shareholders last May. In addition to the proposed Midwest project, the company’s Fertilizer Group began production in May at a new plant in Sorfert, Algeria. It also has a proposed greenfields facility under development in Brazil. As of December 31, 2011, the Company’s subsidiaries and jointly controlled entities included OCI International-Cyprus and OCI Finance Limited, among others.

The USD 1.3 billion fertilizer plant being proposed by OCI would be the first new United States nitrogen plant built in decades and comes at a time when domestic production – but not demand – has dropped dramatically. The natural gas prices increases caused the United States nitrogen loose about half their capacity between 2000 and 2008. The cost of natural gas represents 70 to 90 percent of the cost of manufacturing nitrogen, and some plants were even dismantled and send them to places like China. But the fundamentals of the fertilizer industry are sound (in the United States alone the fertilizer business is estimated to be a USD 15 billion industry) and the demand for nitrogen has not declined, resulting in a significant rise in imported nitrogen.

In previous times, the natural gas prices reached a peak as high of USD 11 per million metric British thermal units, but now they are in the range of USD 2 and USD 2.50 and half of the United States nitrogen consumption is imported. So the OCI investment plan has a sound economic logic.

Israel: Natural Gas Will Exceed Domestic Consumption

The Houston-based explorer Noble Energy Inc., the Israeli Delek Group Ltd. and other explorers have discovered enough gas under the Mediterranean Sea to supply Israel’s needs for 150 years. To profit from the finds sooner, the companies want to export the gas by pipeline or ship. As the Israeli Ministry of Energy prepares to publish a blueprint for developing the fields later this month, officials say the country’s economy and security must come first and shipments abroad should be limited. The companies have discovered about 760 billion cubic meters (28 trillion cubic feet) of gas, which worth about USD 240 billion, equal to Israel’s annual economic output.

Today, Israel imports gas by LNG tanker, but now the Jewish state securing resources for domestic use through 2040 and allowing some exports. The energy industry said it creates uncertainty because gas exports will only be allowed at the government’s discretion.

Noble and Delek have held preliminary talks with South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. and Russia’s OAO Gazprom about building a floating LNG unit. Critics expressed their concern that such a facility could be vulnerable to an attack.

Giant Gazprom, which supplies about a quarter of gas consumed in Europe, signed a preliminary deal in March to buy gas from Levant LNG Marketing Corp., set up to sell the fuel from the Tamar and Dalit fields using a floating LNG plant. The duration of the deal is estimated to be for some 15-20 years and its value seems to be in the range of 12-15 billion dollars.

Export proposals also include building a pipeline all the way to Greece or combining the gas from discoveries off Cyprus and Israel at a joint LNG plant as soon as 2018. Another option is to build a plant in Jordan to ship the fuel to Asia through the Red Sea. Critics have observed that the pipeline to Greece is so expensive it won’t be economically viable. In any case, the Mediterranean gas discoveries have changed not only the Israeli energy scene but the perspectives of the whole economy, and of course of its fertilizer industry.

Mozambique: Vale studies exploiting phosphate deposits

The viability study ordered by the Brazilian mining giant Vale on exploiting the phosphate deposits in Monapo district, in the northern Mozambican province of Nampula, is nearing conclusion, and will soon be in a fit state to present to the Mozambican government. The phosphate project involves investment of 40 million US dollars. 20 million dollars has already been spent on drilling, laboratory tests, pre-viability and environmental studies, and public consultation. Mozambique, one of the world’s poorest countries, is located in Southeastern Africa, bordering the Mozambique Channel, between South Africa and Tanzania.

The mining area, 130 kilometres from Nampula city, is believed to contain 42 million tonnes of phosphates. The mining concession has been granted to Vale for 30 years.

The Vale project includes using the phosphate in a fertilizer factory to be built in the coastal district of Nacala-a-Velha.

According to the Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, this is also where Vale is building a new coal terminal to handle exports of the coal mined by Vale in the Moatize coal basin, in the western province of Tete. These exports also require a 912 kilometre railway from Moatize to Nacala-a-Velha. Two stretches of this line at either end will be entirely new, while the rest depends on upgrading the existing Mozambican and Malawian lines.

Tunisia: TIFERT is Expected to Begin Soon Exports

The Tunisian Indian Fertilisers Company Limited’s (TIFERT’s) expects that commercial shipments should start by September from their plant located in La Skhira, Tunisia.

The plant which was originally expected to be commissioned by the first quarter of 2011 got delayed mainly due to the social-political shake-up in Tunisia last year. The delay caused a loss of some USD 30 million.

TIFERT is a joint venture of India’s Gujarat State Fertilizers & Chemicals (GSFC), the Groupe Chimique Tunisien (GCT), and the Compagnie des Phosphates de Gafsa (CPG), both Tunisian companies and Coromandel Fertilisers Ltd (CFL, which belongs to the Murugappa Group). The joint venture company, Tunisian Indian Fertilizers (TIFERT) is planned to produce 360,000 tonnes P2O5 of phosphoric acid per annum and the production will be divided 50% between CFL and GSFC. This will help GSFC, one of India’s West Coast largest fertilizer makers, to run their DAP plant at full capacity.

The phosphate industry accounts for more than 2.6% of GDP in Tunisia and phosphate exports in Tunisia represented 7% of the USD 9.1 billion total Tunisian exports in 2004. Tunisian main phosphate mines are located in the Qafsah area to the south.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates Tunisian phosphate rock reserves in 100 million tonnes. Tunisia is the fifth global rock producer (after China, USA, Morocco and Russia) and most of the output is used domestically for downstream manufacturing.

Congo, D.R.: Minbos Resources Targets Development of 2 Million tpa Phosphate Project at Kanzi

With a 42% increase in high grade resources to 44 million tonnes at 21.4% phosphorus, exploration upside and consolidated ownership, Minbos Resources is now targeting the development of the Kanzi phosphate project, in the far western Congo, into a 2 million tonnes per annum operation. The Kanzi high grade orebody is ideally located near to road infrastructure and 35 km of the Port of Boma.

Sri Lanka: Possible Investment in the Eppawela Phosphate Plant

India’s NPK Fertilizer Plant is prepared to open a fertilizer plant in Eppawela, in the Anuradhapura district of Sri Lanka. The authorities of the latter have stated that they are looking forwars to a joint venture and India is ready to invest around USD 3 million to increase the capacity of the existing plant in Eppawela.

Lanka Phosphate Limited presently produces SSP and TSP at the Eppawela plant, but the capacity of the plant is insufficient to meet the annual country demand of 75,000 tonnes of phosphate. The Indian company plans to increase the production and export the surplus.

India: RCF Could Purchase Into Canadian Potash Mines

Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizers Ltd. (RCF), India’s second-biggest state-run maker of soil nutrients, plans to buy into potash mines in countries including Canada to secure supplies. Rashtriya Chemicals joins companies including Sinofert Holdings Ltd., a unit of China’s largest chemicals trader, that are looking for acquisitions overseas. India and China, the two most populous countries in the world, need to boost supplies of potash to ensure food security. World potash demand is forecasted to rise 3 percent this year, leaving a shortage, because of delays in commissioning new capacity. India and China, the two most populous countries in the world, need to boost supplies of potash to ensure food security. India imported 3.9 million tonnes of potash in the year ended last March, down from 6.3 million tonnes a year earlier, but China’s potash imports climbed to 6.4 million tonnes in 2011, up 22 percent from 5.24 million tonnes in 2010. According to the World Bank, MOP prices were last July 462.5 dollar per tonne, standard grade, spot, f.o.b. Vancouver, compared to an annual average of USD 435.3 in 2011.

Kazakhstan: Production of sodium hexametaphosphate and phosphates launched in Zhambyl Oblast

Kazphosphate LLC will use a new technology for production of sodium hexametaphosphate (SHMP). This is the first time such innovation is used at the territory of Kazakhstan. The factory will produce final goods with high added value.  The use of the new technologies will triple the energy efficiency. The facility’s capacity is expected to reach 4,000 tonnes of sodium hexametaphosphate and food-grade phosphates per year.

SHMP has various industrial applications from drilling muds to water treatment. In water treatment it acts as a corrosion inhibitor, water softening, ph control, and scale inhibitor. In potato processing it is sometimes used to prevent discoloration. SHMP blended with STPP is also used in processed poultry products to aid in moisture retention during cooking and to help increase shelf life of precooked products. In jams and jellies SHMP and phosphoric acid have been used in minor amounts for firming, buffering and sequestering.

Other industrial applications are in the dentifrices consumption, clay and copper processing, and in the paper and pesticides industry.

Kazphosphate Limited Liability Company has been established on October 27, 1999. The main activities of the Company are exploration works, mining and processing of phosphate rock, production and sales of yellow phosphorus and its derivatives, phosphate fertilizers and fodder phosphates, output of mineral raw material for industrial products. They employ some 5,800 people.

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