Dangote Industries Limited has said its $2bn granulated urea fertiliser plant will soon be inaugurated and the product is expected to be available in the market by September.
The plant, located at Ibeju Lekki, Lagos, has a capacity of three million tonnes per annum, according to the company.
“The mechanical completion of the fertiliser plant is over; test phase is over; and now we are in the commissioning phase,” the Group Executive Director, Strategy, Portfolio Development and Capital Projects, DIL, Devakumar Edwin, told our correspondent in an interview.
Dangote Fertiliser Limited had announced in late February that the plant had started receiving gas supply from the Nigerian Gas Company and Chevron Nigeria Limited, adding that almost all its sections had been completed and were going through pre-testing.
Edwin said the company would be able to push ahead with the plant and other projects despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which he said had prevented them from ramping up manpower.
He said, “Steam blowing is going on. Once the steam blowing is over, we will start the turbines, hopefully in the next 10 days. And once the turbines start, it means we have power; so we can start commissioning the plant.
“We are quite confident that we will be able to move forward without much impact. Once the power comes in, within 90 days, we can have urea in the market. It is a tight schedule but I think we can achieve that.”
He said the COVID-19 pandemic and some technical challenges delayed the inauguration of the plant which was initially scheduled to take place in May.
“I don’t expect the impact to be very significant,” Edwin added.
He said the start of fertiliser production would create many jobs in Nigeria and boost the agricultural sector, adding that the country would become self-sufficient in fertiliser.
He said work was ongoing on the refinery project, which has a capacity to process 650,000 barrels of crude oil daily.
Edwin said, “We have been working with the focus to do the mechanical completion of the petroleum refinery project by the end of this year, and start the commissioning from January next year.
“So, we are still going full speed with that focus and yes, there has been a little bit of impact because of this COVID-19 issue but we are quite confident that we can manage the situation.”
He added, “If anybody says there will be zero impact from COVID-19, we will just be fooling ourselves. For example, we would have liked to ramp up the manpower, but it has been affected to some extent.
“We have maintained social distancing on the site, so we have to obviously reduce the manpower to some extent. So it has had some impact. The maximum we can be delayed is two to three months.”
The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, had during a visit to the plant in February said the fertiliser plant would generate $1bn annually.
He said about 25 per cent of the production would be used for domestic consumption to help the country’s agricultural transformation.