The Safco plant in  Saudi Arabia

The Safco plant in Saudi Arabia

Gulf fertilisers go to global markets

The Gulf’s fertiliser industry has grown from strength to strength, boasting high-profile units and several recent expansions including the latest at Safco

October 2015

The Gulf’s export-oriented fertiliser industry has seen its production capacity more than double since 2014, according to the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA).

The current output capacity is 40.9 million tonnes, a 102 per cent increase over the 2014 level.

“Rising from relatively humble beginnings, the GCC’s fertiliser industry has seen remarkable growth in the last 10 years, earning $6.5 billion in revenues in 2014,” said Dr Abdulwahab Al Sadoun, secretary general, GPCA.

“This export-oriented industry supplies valuable products to farmers all around the world, improving food security in Asia, India and Europe and thereby solidifying trade relations between the Arabian Gulf producers and their diverse markets.”

With a production capacity of 17.2 million tonnes and 10.7 million tonnes respectively, Saudi Arabia and Qatar lead fertiliser production in the region.

“With the launch of Safco 5 this year, notable for possessing one of the world’s largest carbon capture units, and Maaden’s Waad Al Shamal phosphates facility in 2016, Saudi fertilisers will continue to see much dynamism in the near future,” said Al-Sadoun.

Qatar is the largest urea producer in the region, manufacturing 37 per cent of the GCC’s production of this commodity. Additionally, Qafco operates the largest single-site ammonia and urea production plant.

A Qafco urea production facility in Qatar

A Qafco urea production facility in Qatar

Looking ahead, GCC fertiliser manufacturers can be expected to look into diversifying their product portfolio to include speciality fertilisers if they are still not producing that category or increase production if they do, said a GPCA statement.

To date, only 396,000 tonnes of speciality fertilisers are currently produced in the region, it said.
“Speciality fertilisers have unique qualities that define them against urea or diammonium phosphate fertilisers,” said Al Sadoun.

“It is these innovative characteristics that yield a higher return in the global marketplace and therefore result in greater returns for the producer and the good news is that the UAE has already demonstrated that it can manufacture this valuable product.”

The topic of innovation was a key focus at the GPCA Fertiliser Convention held under the theme “Innovating for growth: Ensuring an efficient, sustainable future”.

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