The Hamriyah Free Zone Authority in Sharjah has announced that a US$200mn (Dh736mn) ammonia/urea plant is to be set up in the zone by Muscat-based Oman Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals LLC (OCPL).

OCPL, the only bulk drug manufacturer in the Middle East and Africa, also signed a 25-year agreement with the Sharjah-based Crescent Petroleum for the supply of natural gas.


The agreements were signed at the HFZA headoffices attended by Shaikh Khalid Bin Abdullah Al Qasimi, cairman, HFZA, and Sharjah Ports Authority, Shaikh Humaid Bin Nasser Al Naemi, OCPL cairman, Hamid Jafar, chairman and chief executive officer, Crescent Petroleum and other top officials.


Rashid Al Leem, director general, HFZA, says the project would be one of the largest in the free zone.


First phase production of 400,000 tonnes of ammonia a year will commence by April 2007 with phase two production of urea and other products at the plant will start in 2008, said Shaikh Humaid.


High prices and a shortage of ammonia in the world market spurred the company on to setting up its own ammonia plant.


The plant will not only meet its own needs of ammonia, which it currently imports, but also export the surplus, he says.


The plant’s annual turnover is expected to top US$80mn (Dh294mn).

A second plant is planned in Oman in the next couple of years.


Ammonia as a raw material is used for innumerable end products. Shaikh Humaid says that up to 75% of the plant’s ammonia production will be exported, with the rest being used by its pharmaceutical plants.


He says the company’s decision to set up its first ammonia plant in HFZ was due to the availability of cheaper gas supplies at the rate of US$1.5/MMBtu (million metric British thermal unit) compared with US$6/MMBtu in Europe.

The plant’s natural gas requirement is about 45mn standard cubic feet per day.


The project requires 60,000 square metres of land for its phase one operating facilities including product storage.


Production of urea will occur as phase two followed by nitric acid, ammonium nitrate and ammonium phosphate.


Leading technology from MW Kellogg considered among the best available in the world today, in terms of energy consumption, plant on stream efficiency and environment protection has been procured for this plant, company officials say.


OCPL manufactures and markets bulk semi-synthetic penicillin with sales in Middle East, Europe, Far East and India.