Saudi Arabian Fertilizer Company (SAFCO), an affiliate of Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), is constructing what is claimed to be the world's biggest ammonia and urea plant complexes in Jubail with an annual production capacity of 1.1 million tons.
This was disclosed to Arab News by Musa'ad Al-Ohaly, Vice President (Fertilizers) of SABIC, who said the new state-of-the-art plant will come on stream by the first quarter of next year. With this, it will increase SABIC's fertilizer production capacity from 2.7 million tons to 3.8 million tons.
He was speaking on the occasion of a get-together for SAFCO customers at Thumama, 70 km from Riyadh. More than 50 senior representatives of agricultural companies were entertained at a guest house in the desert.
SABIC has awarded a lump sum turnkey contract to the German engineering company, UHDE GmbH. UHDE will be responsible for the engineering, procurement and construction of the ammonia and urea plant complexes - SAFCO 4. Three other plants are already in operation, of which one is in Dammam and two in Jubail.
Al-Ohaly said: "We have been able to maintain high safety and environmental standards with the help of our highly skilled work force, around 90 percent of whom are Saudis."
Asked if the Kingdom's impending accession to the WTO was a matter of concern to them, the SABIC official said: "We welcome competition as it will help us to identify our strengths and weaknesses. This way we can take corrective measures and become more competitive. As a global player, we welcome it."
In his supplementary remarks, Abdullah Al-Humayyid, President of SAFCO, told Arab News that of their total production, around 300,000 tons is consumed by the domestic market.
According to him, the global production of fertilizer was around 100 million tons. "A lot of capacity is building up, especially from Oman, the UAE, Iran and Qatar, besides Saudi Arabia," Al-Humayyid said, adding that as a result of the international competition the price of urea was fluctuating between $200 and $250 per ton.