ABF upgrades plants to raise output


  • Business
  • Tuesday, 27 May 2003

BY JACK WONG IN KUCHING

ASEAN Bintulu Fertiliser Sdn Bhd (ABF) is undertaking a major revamp of its urea and ammonia plants in Bintulu, Sarawak to boost production capacity. 

The upgraded urea plant will have its capacity increased by 25% to 2,200 tonnes per day (tpd) from 1,800tpd. 

Meanwhile, the capacity of the ammonia plant will go up to 1,350tpd from 1,250tpd. 

Upgrading work would start within the next two months for commissioning in September next year, according to ABF engineering department senior manager Pramod Kumar. 

Pramod was when presenting a paper on Sharing of ABF's Quality Journey at a seminar on Best Practices for small and medium-sized industries in Kuching yesterday. 

The seminar was jointly organised by the Sarawak Industrial Development Ministry and the Sarawak Development Institute. 

ABF plant, a joint venture between five Asean nations, started commercial production in 1985. 

Malaysia, through Petroliam Nasional Bhd is the largest shareholder with 63.5% stake. 

The other shareholders are Indonesia and Thailand (13% each), the Philippines (9.5%) and Singapore (1%). 

The company marked a major milestone early this month when it shipped the 1,000th shipment of urea to its long-term buyer, Wesfarmers CSBP Ltd in western Australia. 

Pramod said the ABF plant would next year carry out a rejuvenation programme to replace some of the old equipment to extend its asset life by another 20 years. 

The programme would be carried out in phases over the next 10 years, he added. 

Pramod said the investment requirements for the rejuvenation programme had been identified but he did not disclose the value. 

“Since 1985, we have achieved a 40% reduction in the unit production cost of urea. 

“This is expected to be reduced further to 60% when the new (upgraded) plant is commissioned,'' he added. 

Pramod said ABF wanted to achieve world-class standard in plant operations by 2005. 

It also aimed to expand traditional markets while capturing new ones, with focus given on growing the grandular urea markets in Sabah and Sarawak. 

ABF produced 631,000 tonnes of urea last year, with Australia as its major buyer, taking 30% of the output. 

Other buyers are Malaysia (21%), the US and New Zealand (12% each) and Japan (9%). 

As for its ammonia, Thailand was the largest buyer, absorbing 33.6% of the output. 

This is followed by the Philippines (27%), Vietnam (22.2%), Malaysia (11.3%) and India (5.9%). 

According to Pramod, ABF was exploring the possibility of venturing into value-added urea derivative projects. 

The proposed urea derivatives under study now are melamine, controlled release urea and urea ammonium nitrate. 

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