EPCL Kick-Starts Methanol, Fertiliser Plants … . Ahead Jonathan’s Groundbreaking Visit

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Africa’s largest petrochemicals facility, Indorama/Eleme Petrochemicals Company Limited (Indorama/EPCL) located in Rivers State, Nigeria, has begun preparations in earnest for the establishment of a whopping $1.8billion (approximately N275billion) methanol, fertilizer and low density polyethylene (LDPE) plants at Eleme.

As part of this strategy, the company has commenced the clearing of the sites for the plants, ahead of the foundation stone laying by President Goodluck Jonathan within the precinct of the existing petrochemicals facility.

Briefing bureau chiefs during the first-ever official national media tour of the once-moribund petrochemicals complex at its corporate headquarters in Eleme, last Friday, Managing Director of the company, Mr Manish Mundra, said the fertilizer plant would gulp $1billion while the methanol facility would consume $700million, just as the LDPE project would cost $100million.

Manish noted that the fertilizer, methanol and LDPE facilities, which would have annual nameplate capacities of 1.332 million metric tonnes, 1.165 million metric tonnes, and 0.120 million metric tonnes, respectively, would pumped to both domestic and international markets to generate much-needed revenue for the company’s shareholders and the country.

According to Mundra, while 100 per cent of the LDPE products would go the domestic market, 50 per cent apiece of the fertilizer produced would be sold to the domestic and international markets, just as 90 per cent of the methanol products would be shipped to international buyers in the United States, Europe, Asia and intra-African nations.

The managing director listed the benefits of the facilities to include employment generation of more than 1,000 new direct and indirect jobs for the teeming but jobless youths, creation of new window for foreign exchange earnings, promotion of the diversification of the nation’s economy, production of critical goods and raw materials as well as creation of alternative energy sources, and the enabling of thousands of new business frontiers to boost Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Gross National Product (GNP).

Specifically, he pointed out that the methanol would provide alternative fuel for vehicles with combustion engines, including cars and trucks while also energising power plants’ lines control, security radio control, and management of free flight airplanes, in addition to the production of resins, glues, plastics, plywood, paints, explosives, and permanent press textiles.

Mundra said the methanol products would also be used for acetic acid chemical applications, and such other uses as traditional denaturant for ethanol, highlighting solvents, antifreeze addictives in pipelines and windshields washer fluids as some of the derivatives of methanol.

On the fertilizer facility, the Indorama boss stated that the fertilizer to be produced from the plant would help boost the nation’s quest to drastically increase its agricultural yields, sufficiently contribute to the country’s desire to feed its citizens, as well as strategically advance Nigeria’s dream for national food security.

With the three plants up and running after two successful turn around maintenance (TAM), Mundra stressed that Indorama/EPCL would have added a new impetus to the nation’s push to reduce gas flaring in the Niger Delta region, and thus, contribute to efforts to drive down global warming and greenhouse gas emissions, which ultimately exacerbate climate change.

The Tide gathered that the first TAM in 2006 had gulped more than $130million, with the second TAM in 2010 costing far less.

Although both TAMs had resulted in production and sales losses, their successful completion has ensured optimum operational efficiency and sound safety profile for the continent’s largest petrochemicals facility in Nigeria.

Nelson Chukwudi