Nigeria's agriculture and energy sectors are about to record a new multi-billion Naira investment as Indorama Corporation, the core investors in Eleme Petrochemicals Company Limited (EPCL) is set to build world-class Fertilizer and Methanol plants in its Port Harcourt complex.
The investment is worth N1.8 billion US dollars (N275 Billion Naira) and would commence production in the next three or four years, sources close to the project said.
Industry experts see the Indorama investment as a quantum leap in the Federal Government's quest for foreign direct investment (DFI) into the country; coming on the heals of the general elections which were considered free, fair and credible by the international community; and the Gas revolution recently launched by President Goodluck Jonathan.
BusinessDay gathered that Chairman of Indorama Group, Mr. S. P Lohia briefed President Jonathan and the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Deziani Allison-Madueke on this project last night when he paid a courtesy visit on the President in Abuja.
Indorama Group, in 2006, invested 400 Million US dollars to acquire and resuscitate the moribund Eleme Petrochemicals Company Limited, which has now become the best success story of privatization in Nigeria.
Managing Director of Indorama-EPCL, Mr. Manish Mundra confirmed the new investment plan to our correspondent; and added that the projects would help the company to achieve its vision of building Africa's largest petrochemicals hub in Nigeria. He said the company would formally announce the project now that the Chairman, Mr. Lohia has broken the good news to the President.
It was also learnt that the company has completed preliminary plans on the project, which is expected to deliver over one million metric tons of ammonia and urea fertilizers annually. "This is going to be one of the biggest Urea complex in Africa", the source said.
The fertilizer project is expected to create thousands of direct and indirect jobs and produce fertilizers to boost the nation's agricultural and industrial sectors. Currently, the federal government imports much of the nation's fertilizer needs.
"Farmers are going to reap greatly from this project" an industry chieftain said.
It would be recalled that Indorama Group, in 2006, acquired and revamped EPCL, which was a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Within three months, it concluded extensive turn-around maintenance (TAM) of the company and re-started production of polyethylene and polypropylene, which had hitherto been imported into the country by manufacturers of plastics products.
As reported recently by BusinessDay, Indorama-EPCL completed its second TAM in February 2010; and is now producing at over 100% capacity and meeting the needs of the local plastics industry, which uses the petrochemicals products as raw materials. The company's surplus production is exported to several countries in Asia, Europe, and parts of Africa.
In October 2010, Indorama-EPCL won the Presidential Award for Exports, organized by the Nigerian Export Promotions Council (NEPC).
When contacted, Mr. Jossy Nkwocha, special adviser to the Managing Director and head of Corporate Communications said the company has contributed immensely to the economy of Nigeria in various ways.
"The fertilizer and methanol projects will certainly add a lot of value to the economy of Nigeria, especially in the areas of job creation, tax revenue for government, and supply of the much-needed fertilizer for agriculture and industrial purposes; as well as Methanol as alternative fuel," Mr. Nkwocha said.
According to him, EPCL has paid more than N11 billion to the Government in taxes such as value added tax (VAT), Customs duty, with-holding taxes, and pay-as-you earn (PAYEE); and has also paid to date a dividend of over N23 billion to its shareholders including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Rivers State Government, and the Bureau pf Public Enterprises (BPE), which holds shares on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Nkwocha added that EPCL under Indorama has helped Nigeria to save more than One billion US dollars in foreign exchange through import substitution; and has turned Nigeria into a net exporter of petrochemicals products; and has indeed achieved 10% of Nigeria's total non-oil exports.
The Indorama-EPCL spokesman stated that the company has carried out various corporate social responsibility initiatives to enhance the living standards of people in the communities where it operates; and will continue to play important roles in developing the economy of the country and the communities.