6 months ago

Fertiliser factory in KSA likely soon

Salman F Rahman's Saudi visit soon

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Bangladesh now plans to set up a fertiliser factory in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) through single or joint-venture investment amid dwindling gas supply to local factories.

The fertiliser to be produced in the factory will be imported to Bangladesh under a buy-back arrangement, according to officials concerned.

To take forward the initiative, PM's private-sector industry and investment adviser Salman F Rahman will lead a delegation to the KSA soon.

Officials said the adviser in a recent letter to the foreign secretary requested him to arrange a visit of the delegation to the kingdom.

The team may include representatives from the PMO, industries and commerce ministries, Bangladesh Che-mical Industries Corporation, and Bangladesh Investment Development Authority.

The delegation will also discuss about materialising of the KSA's investment pledges to Bangladesh and fresh investment prospects, wrote Mr Rahman.

In June 2021, according to the letter, Mr Rahman sat with Saudi investment minister Khalid A Al-Falih who said the setting up of a fertiliser factory in Saudi Arabia through Bangladeshi investment could be discussed.

The KSA is ready to supply gas to the factory and send back the chemical fertiliser to Bangladesh under a buy-back arrangement.

Following the meeting, Mr Rahman apprised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of the development. The PM asked him to take an initiative to materialise the plan.

Apart from using the locally produced fertiliser, Bangladesh imports a large volume of fertilisers from abroad annually to meet domestic needs, he wrote.

"To continue and raise agricultural production continuation of urea fertiliser supply at affordable price is necessary," noted the adviser.

Contacted on Tuesday, Mr Rahman said the KSA has agreed to cooperate with the setting up of a fertiliser factory there following Bangladesh's proposal.

"We will follow up the issue soon," he told the FE, saying that it would be materialised.

He said a Bangladesh delegation would visit Saudi Arabia shortly. "We are now working out a plan."

For deficient gas supply, at least three fertiliser factories have lain idle for months.

On Sunday, the state-backed Petrobangla supplied only 164 million cubic feet per day (MMCFD) of gas to fertiliser production against the demand for 316 MMCFD.

Bangladesh suspended spot-market LNG import in July amid liquefied natural gas (LNG) price hike globally, followed by dollar's appreciation and a fall in foreign-currency reserves, causing a gas supply crunch.

It has lowered gas supply to fertiliser factories, thus lowering production and enhancing import dependence further, the officials said.

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