In what may bolster India’s capacity to provide adequate soil nutrients to its farmers, state-run Gujarat State Fertilisers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC) is exploring the possibility of setting up a urea plant in the Republic of Congo.
This comes at a time when India is also interested in setting up a 1.3-million tonne (MT) urea plant in Iran and a consortium of Indian fertiliser firms has shortlisted Iran’s Falat Group Co. to set the Rs.5,000 crore joint venture (JV) urea manufacturing plant.
Indian fertiliser companies have five JV projects overseas. These include Oman India Fertilizer Co. (OMIFCO), Jordan India Fertiliser Co., Industries Chimiques du Sénégal, Indo Maroc Phosphore SA in Morocco and Tunisian Indian Fertilizers.“The government of the Republic of Congo had shown interest that India should set up a urea plant in Congo. In this direction, GSFC has expressed interest and the company may go ahead and carry out a feasibility study shortly for the proposed plant,” said a senior government official on condition of anonymity.The official added that state-run Projects and Development India Ltd (PDIL) may be brought in by GSFC for carrying out the feasibility study.
India’s demand for urea in last year was 31 MT, of which around 8 MT was imported mainly from China and Iran during the financial year ended 31 March 2016 at an average price of $279.02 per tonne. Another government official, who did not want to be named, said the ministry of chemicals and fertilisers has also sought the views of the ministry of external affairs (MEA) in this regard. India also imports around 2 MT of urea from OMIFCO under a long-term urea off-take agreement between the Indian government and OMIFCO. The urea import from OMIFCO is made through country’s largest co-operative Indian Farmers Fertiliser Co-operative Ltd and Krishak Bharati Cooperative Ltd.
The second official quoted above further mentioned that once the feasibility study is done, work may start to prepare the detailed project report. The official, however, said, “A lot of activity needs to be done in terms of infrastructure—gas pricing and other related issues—in Congo.” This comes in the backdrop of urea demand during the rabi crop season expected to be low at 15 million tonne.
Queries emailed to the spokespersons of India’s ministry of chemicals and fertilizers, ministry of external affairs, Embassy of Republic of Congo in New Delhi, GSFC and PDIL on 4 October remained unanswered. Experts believe that setting up a urea plant in Congo will be a good move. “Our companies are expanding beyond the country. There is cheap gas available in Iran, Brunei and Congo which will make the project viable,” said R.G. Rajan, former chairman and managing director at Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilisers Ltd. In order to improve domestic production of urea, the government is also working to revive closed urea units at Gorakhpur, Sindri and Barauni at an estimated cost of Rs.18,000 crore.