UAE. Participating as the keynote speaker and lead sponsor of the 2nd Annual Middle East Fertilizer Symposium is Mohamed Rashid Al Rashid, General Manager, FERTIL. The World Refining Association presented some insights from Al Rashid this week, in a snapshot of his views for the future of the region's fertiliser industry, particularly during these current global economic conditions.
Q: There has been a recent drop in fertiliser prices. In your opinion, how do you think this will affect global demand?
A: Market forces always play a balancing act. Demand increases sharply when the prices drop. This, in turn, works to increase the prices again. So we are not worried.
Q: There are fears that the global fertiliser industry may witness an oversupply. What are your views on this?
A: Until a situation arises when the whole world is flooded with food surpluses, fertiliser demand will never drop and will always have a rising curve.
Q: The entire world is struggling to make sense of the fundamental changes imposed upon us by the financial and economic global crisis, that is still unfolding around us, what are your response strategies to counter these new challenges?
A: The prevailing economic issues should be dealt with in a global perspective. Adopting a regional, or country specific, approach will not work. Human welfare and development need to be considered from the point of view of the best utilisation of available resources. We need to interact more vocally with our counterparts elsewhere. We need to utilise global forums such as the World Economic Forum more effectively, to lead to positive solutions. Many brains working together work better than one alone.
Q: How do you hope to survive and prosper in these tough times?
A: It is very much a temporary phase and will not last long. As I said before, we have to brainstorm collectively to reach the right solutions. Our immediate strategy is the trimming of expenditures. We have to be cost effective and utilise available resources in the best possible manner.
Q: What is your opinion on the prospect for biofuels?
A: It is good that alternative fuels be explored; innovation is always welcome. However, diverting agricultural produce for biofuels production is not the right strategy. The basic needs of the hungry masses should be met first. You cannot create the situation where people revolt due to food scarcity.
Q: Moving forward, what are your personal aims for FERTIL as we move ahead into 2009 and beyond?
A: From a cost point of view, this is the right time to construct new fertiliser plants because, after three years or less, product prices will undoubtedly increase.
Al Rashid will be joined by other prominent figures from the industry, speaking at the 2-5 March meeting in Abu Dhabi. They include Jamal Abusalem, Deputy Managing Director, Nippon Jordan Fertilizer Co; Yehia El Azab, General Manager, Abu Dhabi Fertilizers Co (ADFERT); Jehad Al Hajji, Deputy Managing Director, Fertilizers, Petrochemical Industries Co (PIC), C V Venugopal, CEO, Oman India Fertilizer Co; Harshadrai Pandaya, Executive Director, Gujarat State Fertilizer & Chemicals; Klaus Noelker, Head of Process Department Ammonia and Urea Division, Uhde; Stephan Zwart, Licensing Manager; Stamicarbon; Jorge Camps, General Manager, Jacobs Consultancy and Justin Hearn, Senior Process Manager, Gas Treatment Process Technology, BASF.
Note: Ruwais Fertilizer Industries (FERTIL), a member of ADNOC Group of companies, was established in October 1980 as a joint venture between Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and Total, with a shareholding ratio of 2:1 respectively. Construction of a processing plant began in 1980 and production started in December 1983.
The prime objective behind establishing the company was to utilise the lean gas supplied from the onshore fields of BAB, ASAB and Thammama-C, to manufacture fertilisers and to market them locally and internationally. The plant is located in Ruwais Industrial Zone, about 235 kilometres from the city of Abu Dhabi. It comprises an ammonia and urea processing plant. The installed capacity of the ammonia plant is 1,000 MTPD and 1,500 MTPD for urea. The plants have fully integrated utility units with storage facilities. The company has been continuously improving its technology and productivity. Today, ammonia production stands at 1,310 MTPD and urea 1,850 MTPD.