Qatar- Qafco initiates pilot plant for diversification| MENAFN.COM

Monday, 24 January 2022 08:56 GMT

Qatar- Qafco initiates pilot plant for diversification

(MENAFN- The Peninsula)  Qafco and NIIK signed a contract for design and supply of a pilot high speed drum granulation unit (HSDG) to produce various value added urea products in Qatar. NIIK is a Russian engineering and technology company specialised in urea.

Khalifa A Al Sowaidi, CEO, Qafco and Igor Esin, President and CEO, NIIK signed the contract on behalf of the respective companies.

The ceremony was attended by Ivan De Witte, Chief Operations Officer, Qafco; Hamed Al Marwani, Chief Administration Officer, Qafco; and Natalia Kargaeva, Head of International Affairs Department from NIIK (R&D Institute of Urea), Russia.

Construction activities in the pilot plant are expected to start in the middle of the next year and the plant is expected to start production by the end of the next year.

The high speed drum granulation pilot unit, with a capacity of 2.4 tonne per day, will allow Qafco to develop various urea based products by adding sulphur, ammonium sulphate and a diverse range of other micronutrients.

The first of its kind pilot unit is the initial step to develop higher value urea based fertiliser utilizing the efficient asset base of Qafco as largest single site urea producer, as well as utilising the abundant sulphur available in Qatar.

Based on the experience from the pilot unit, actual larger capacity units for producing the speciality urea will be installed. By implementing that, part of the large quantity of sulphur available and now exported from Qatar will be utilised inside Qatar for producing value added product.

Al Sowaidi said: "The signing of this agreement to set up high speed drum granulation unit by Qafco comes in line with Qafco strategy to diversify away from commodity urea..... The initiative is a response to the changing dynamics of global agriculture where the focus is on improved land use based on balanced fertilisation to allow increase of yields and lessening the environmental impact".

"This pilot unit and the prospect of producing higher value urea based fertilisers is unique not only in the Middle East, but even globally, and Qafco is committed to utilise its resources to develop better fertilisers with higher crop yields and lower overall impact on the environment," he added.

Seeing this as an opportunity to enhance knowledge and skill of Qafco employees, Al Marwani, said, "In addition to the added value arising from the production of new products produced by the unit, this unit will also provide opportunities for young Qataris and enable nationals engaged in Qafco service to acquire high-level expertise in the design, construction and operation of technically advanced industrial plants." The Peninsula

Qafco to launch environment-friendly fertilisers
DOHA: Qafco plans to launch niche production of environmentally friendly fertilisers to meet rising demand in Western markets, Qafco chief executive said.

The plan underlines a trend in several of the oil- and gas-rich economies of the Gulf: they are using their ample supplies of energy to widen their industrial bases and boost exports of non-energy goods such as chemicals.

Qatar's exports of chemicals and related products jumped 11.4 percent to QR38.78bn ($10.7bn) last year. Qafco says it supplies around 15 percent of the world's exports of urea and ammonia, which are used for fertilisers.

"Given that our markets are mainly in the US and Australia, there is a growing demand for environmentally friendly fertilisers, and this is something we are working on now and want to develop," Khalifa Al Sowaidi said in an interview for the Reuters Middle East Investment Summit.

The firm makes about 5.6 million tonnes of urea and 3.7 million tonnes of ammonia annually, and sales volumes have been increasing every year, Sowaidi said.

Qafco made a profit of about $1bn last year. Unstable market conditions make developing niche products more important. "Niche products that are environmentally friendly and can increase the production of agricultural products is something we think can add value to us, provided that we can make a premium on these products," Sowaidi said.

For the time being Qafco has no plans for foreign or domestic expansion. "I think it's a good strategy to wait three to four years so you can get the yield of these projects and then start expansion again. But so far, for our projects we managed to recover them in around two to two-and-a-half years' time," Sowaidi said.

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