Oman secures global markets for its urea output

Muscat – Swiss-based international agri-business trader Ameropa has announced that it has struck a deal with OQ Trading Limited (OQT), the trading arm of OQ – the Sultanate’s global integrated energy company – to lift a sizable proportion of the urea output of the Oman-India Fertilizer Company’s (OMIFCO) fertilizer project at Sur.

Basel-headquartered Ameropa, which specialises in the marketing of fertilisers and grains around the world, said it has entered into a three-year offtake agreement covering part of the granular urea output of the OMIFCO plant.

As part of this pact, an initial shipment of 49,500 metric tons of granular urea was loaded on board a bulk carrier at OMIFCO’s Qalhat jetty earlier this month, with the vessel currently en route to Brazil – representing a promising new market for Omani urea.

“This ground-breaking deal with OQT, which is being supported by OMIFCO (Oman India Fertiliser Company SAOC), further solidifies our role as the leading urea trading company in the world and helps us gain additional market share in strategic regions,” said Ameropa in a statement.

A joint Omani-Indian venture, OMIFCO was launched in 2005 at Sur Industrial City with a capacity to produce 1.65 metric tons/year of urea and 350,000 tons/year of ammonia. Wholly Omani government-owned OQ has a 50 per cent stake in the project. Indian state-owned cooperatives Indian fertiliser cooperatives Krishak Bharati Cooperative (25 per cent) and Indian Farmers Fertilisers Cooperative (25 per cent) are also shareholders in the project. When it commenced operations on July 15, 2005, it heralded an era of petrochemicals production in the Sultanate.

Under a long-term offtake pact signed with the Indian government, urea output from the plant – averaging around 2 million metric tons annually – had been shipped to Indian markets from the outset of operations 15 years ago.

But, according to recent media reports, that agreement effectively came to an end last month, on the 15th anniversary of OMIFCO’s inauguration — prompting the company and its trading arm – OQ Trading Limited – to explore alternative markets for the plant’s urea production. The ammonia output, however, is sold internationally via an offtake arrangement with another trader.

Also on the occasion of the 15th anniversary, OMIFCO and its shareholders announced the launch of its ‘OQ’ brand of Omani bagged urea for the local, regional and internationally markets. The high-quality product, marketing in 50kg bags, promises to provide new impetus to Oman’s efforts to boost agricultural production as part of a national strategy to strengthen food security and reduce the country’s longstanding dependence on imports for its food requirements.