Sorfert Algerie Fertiliser Complex, Arzew, Algeria

Sorfert Algerie is building a 1.2mtpa ammonia/granulated urea plant in the Arzew industrial zone, Algeria. A second ammonia plant with a capacity of 800,000tpa is also being built.

It is said that once complete, the plant will account for one of the largest volumes of fertiliser exports to the Mediterranean. The Arzew industrial zone is situated near three major Algerian ports on the Mediterranean coastin the Wahran province, about 350km from the capital city Algiers.

The ammonia/granulated urea plant is due to become operational in 2011, with the second ammonia plant coming on-stream some six months later. Investment costs are put at $1.9bn. Domestic sources of natural gas will be used as feedstock.

About 1.1mtpa of the urea fertiliser will be sold in the domestic market. About 750,000tpa of excess ammonia production will be exported.

"The ammonia / granulated urea plant is due to become operational in 2011."

Sorfert Algeria is a joint venture between Orascom Construction Industries (OCI) and the Algerian state-owned oil and gas company Sonatrach. The JV was formed in 2007. In February 2009, the partners signed a detailed agreement for the supply of gas to the new nitrogen fertiliser production complex.

Design, development and construction

During the middle of 2007 Sorfert Algerie signed an agreement with Germany's Uhde to design, develop and build the world-scale fertiliser complex on a greenfield site. At the same time OCI said that it would be carrying out all onshore works for the new complex.

At the start of September 2008 Uhde announced that it had been commissioned to provide its process technology and provide engineering and supply services to the Sorfert Algerie fertiliser complex. The contract also includes provision of off-site and auxiliary infrastructure including storage and shipping facilities.

Process technology

The ammonia plant will use Uhde's proprietary ammonia process technology. At the same time, a synthesis process for the urea plant will be provided by Netherlands-based Stamicarbon. The licence for the fluid-bed urea granulation process will be supplied by Uhde Fertiliser Technology, who took over the exclusive rights for the technology from Yara Fertiliser Technology during 2005.

Uhde added that all the selected processes are "particularly environmentally friendly and meet stringent Algerian and European standards."

Legal advice

In April 2008 global law firm White & Case announced that it was advising Sorfert Algerie in relation to the $1.9bn financing for the construction of a nitrogen-based fertiliser plant.

"All the selected processes are environmentally friendly and meet stringent Algerian and European standards."

The financing agreement, which will run for 15 years, includes a grace period of approximately three years that covers the construction period.

Banque Exterieure d'Algerie was the arranger for the financing package along with Banque Nationale d'Algerie, CENP Banque, Banque de Development Local and Credit Populaire d'Algerie.

White & Case also advised Sorfert in connection with the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract, which was entered into with Uhde and OCI Algeria.

Supply of vacuum condenser packages

At the start of 2008, UK-based Wellman Hunt-Graham was awarded a contract by Uhde to supply five sets of vacuum condenser packages to Sorfert. Delivery is scheduled in 2009.

Market Growth

North African countries have abundant resources and are, therefore, witnessing an increased level of industrial investments. Their strategic location on the Mediterranean coast also enhances their ability to export goods and boost economic growth, according to White & Case.