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Saturday, Mar 13, 2004

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Work apace on Oswal ammonia plant in Australia

M.R. Subramani

Recently in Sydney

THE construction of the A$630-million (Rs 2,236 crore) liquid ammonia plant by the Oswal group is proceeding on schedule and it is likely to go on stream around July 2005.

"The construction of the project is going on schedule, though there was a slight delay during December-January due to holidays," said Mr Walter Law, Project Manager, Department of Industry and Resources, Western Australia.

Mr Law is assisting the group in securing statutory and legal requirements for execution of the project.

The Oswals floated Burrup Fertilisers Pty Ltd for this purpose in June 2000. Burrup Fertilisers is promoted by Oswal Projects Ltd, New Delhi.

When the operation commences, Burrup Fertilisers will have a capacity of 7,60,000 tonnes annually and it could turn out to be one of the largest ammonia production facilities in the world.

"The foundation has been completed and construction of buildings and ammonia tanks has begun," Mr Law said.

"They have been very good in keeping with the project parameters and are aware of the time schedule," he said.

Liquid ammonia produced at the Burrup peninsula will be shipped to India for use as feedstock for producing fertilisers. "They will ship ammonia to India and other world markets," Mr Law said.

The ammonia will be produced using Western Australia natural gas.

Burrup Fertilisers has also entered into an offtake arrangement with Norsk Hydro for purchase of all the ammonia produced. Norsk Hydro, Norway's largest energy company, is the world's largest trader and shipper of ammonia with fertiliser sales in over 100 countries, including Australia. With a fleet of 13 ammonia tankers, Norsk Hydro will help maximise Burrup Fertilisers returns by "swapping" ammonia shipments.

Two-thirds of the project outlay is being financed, according to Mr Law.

The Oswals had tied up the finance for the project fully in July last year.

The fertiliser project of the Oswals is among the few investments made by India in Australia. Besides the Oswals, the Birlas and Sterlite have invested in copper mining operations, while software major Infosys has bought out Expert, an IT service provider, for Rs 104.53 crore.

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