August 7th this year would mark five years since Indorama Corporation took over Eleme Petrochemicals Company Limited (EPCL) Port Harcourt, from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), after it was privatised by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE). In five years, the company, which was almost moribund before privatisation, has recorded many milestones in its vision of building Africa's largest petrochemicals hub in Nigeria.
Indorama-EPCL is now operating at over 100% capacity --- meeting the need of the Nigerian plastics industry, which uses petrochemical products (polymer resins) as its raw materials. The company's surplus supplies are exported to about 20 countries in Europe, Asia, US and parts of Africa. In October last year, Indorama-EPCL won the Presidential Award for Export of Polymer resins, organised by the Nigerian Export Promotions Council (EPC).
TELL gathered that the company has done two major turnaround maintenance (TAM) since 2006. It has carried out extensive innovations and modifications of existing facilities and created 13 new ranges of polymer resins to suit the needs of various customers. Mr. Innocent Chukwuma, Chairman of Innosson Group, who are major users of EPCL products said the company provides them with high quality raw materials for their plastics and car manufacturing operations in Enugu.
Last Monday, President Goodluck Jonathan endorsed the establishment of two world-class fertilizer and methanol plants by Indorama. The projects, worth 1.8 billion US Dollars or 275 billion Naira would be located in the EPCL Complex in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The President gave this endorsement when he hosted the Chairman of Indorama Corporation, Mr. S.P Lohia, and the Managing Director, Mr. Manish Mundra at the Presidential Villa on Monday evening, May 16th 2011.
A press release issued by Jossy Nkwocha, special adviser to the Managing Director of Indorama-EPCL, quoted the President as saying that he was quite happy with the plans of Indorama Group to build world-class fertilizer and methanol plants in Nigeria, and promising to give the company all the support it requires to make the project a success for the benefit of Nigerians and the company.
Chairman of Indorama, Mr. Lohia, had earlier informed the President that the fertilizer plant, when completed, would deliver one million tons of ammonia and urea fertilizers annually for Nigeria's agricultural and industrial purposes. The methanol plant, he said, would also serve as alternative fuel for public transportation and for industries to enhance the energy sector.
On Tuesday, May 17th 2011, the MD, Mr. Mundra formally announced the multi-billio adequate power supply and gas availability while local manpower are being mobilised n Naira projects, adding that a lot of work has already been done in the technical surveys, environmental impact assessment, land development,.
According to him, the company is also adding Low Density Polypropylene (LDPE) production facilities in Port Harcourt. All these projects have taken off but are targeted to commence production by 2014-2015.
"The Fertilizer plant will be the largest single train Urea Plant in the world; and once these plants are commissioned, EPCL's Port Harcourt complex will be one of the largest petrochemicals companies in Africa," Mr. Mundra highlighted.
TELL investigations show that the Fertilizer plant would produce over one million metric tones of Urea fertilizers annually. It would greatly enhance Nigeria's agricultural sector, which has depended heavily on imported fertilizers.
The Methanol plant, according to Mr. Mundra, would help Nigeria and Nigerians to overcome their shortages in fuel supplies. Methanol is an alternative fuel for public transportation as well as for domestic and industrial use.
Most of Nigeria's fuel needs are imported as the NNPC-owned refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna are operating at below 20% capacity. The Indorama initiative would be an elixir for the Nigerian energy sector.
Indorama-EPCL is the toast of everyone in Nigeria today, including President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State who have spoken severally about the company.
On 16th October 2009, during the Made-in-Nigeria Products Expo held at Eagles Square, Abuja, Dr. Jonathan, then as Vice to the late Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, endorsed the products of EPCL for their high international standard and quality. He enjoined all manufactures of plastics in the country and beyond to use the company's polymer resins.
EPCL was one of the companies invited by the Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry to participate in the exhibition, marking the flag-off of "Patronise Made-in-Nigeria Products" campaign initiated by the Yar'Adua administration.
Dr. Jonathan visited EPCL Stand with the then Minister of Commerce and Industry, Chief Achike Udenwa who commended Indorama for reviving Eleme Petrochemicals. According to him, EPCL is Nigeria's foremost key for industrialisation, and hope to attain the country's vision of becoming one of the 20 industrialised nations by the year 2020.
The minister was happy to notice that all EPCL products' bags bore the inscription MADE IN NIGERIA. He urged EPCL Management to restrict export of the products until it has adequate supplies for the Nigerian market.
"With EPCL back on stream, our plastics manufacturers have no need for imported resins," the Minister said. EPCL executives at the Fair had earlier told the Minister and the Vice President that EPCL products are readily available and affordable for all local manufacturers.
The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) as well as the United State's FDA, and EU have also endorsed EPCL's ranges of Polyethylene, polypropylene, etc for the manufacture of various plastic products.
On 28th April 2009, Governor Amaechi of Rivers state and his cabinet visited the expansive EPCL plant. The atmosphere was ecstatic as the Managing Director, Mr. Mundra conducted them round to see the achievements of the company in so short a time. The State government owns 10% of the shares of the company.
After the plant tour, the governor spoke: "Let me congratulate you for reviving this petrochemical plant. You have not only made the infrastructures available, you have been producing, and have employed our people. If others say your operation here is a 'journey of excellence', I will say this is more excellent than excellent!"
The governor said the new EPCL is an excellent model of public private partnership.
He said the government was prepared to partner with the company in various other areas, especially in actualizing its dream of establishing a world-class fertilizer plant in the complex in order to create more employment opportunities for Nigerians, and Rivers State people in particular.
Another area in which the company has earned public accolades, according to TELL investigation is in the area of community development and corporate social responsibility (CSR). In 2009/10 session, the company awarded scholarships to 15 undergraduates of Eleme and Elelenwo communities who are studying engineering in universities and polytechnics across the country. In the 2010/11 session, another set of 15 students are also benefiting from the scholarship scheme. The scholarship covers their education for the four-year duration.
The company maintains excellent community relations. In April 2007, it signed its first Memorandum of Understudying with the six host communities. It covered employment opportunities for the indigenes, development projects for each community, youth empowerment, contracts for indigene contractors, micro-credit facilities for women groups, etc.
A second MoU was signed recently to signal another chapter of development for the communities and peaceful operations for the company. Currently, there are development projects sponsored by Indorama-EPCL in each host community - Agbonchia, Aleto, Njuru, Okerewa, Akpajo and Elelenwo.
In addition, the company also supports charity. For four consecutive times, it made donations of drugs and food items to Daughters of Charity, a Catholic organization that caters for the welfare of the poor, the sick and the hungry in society. At one of the events on 24th June, 2010, the Chief Finance Officer, Mr. Munish Jindal said the company cares for the less-privileged in society. The Provincial head of the organization Rev. Sr. Gloria Aniebonam was full of prayers and appreciation for the company's gestures.
In a chat with TELL, Managing Director of Indorama-EPCL, Mr. Manish Mundra, identified seven major areas that the company has contributed to the Nigerian economy in the past five years:
EPCL under Indorama has remained the best success story of privatisation in Nigeria.