Agrium considers writing off Damietta project

Abdel-Rahman Hussein
3 Min Read

CAIRO: The Agrium parent company in Canada is considering writing off the nitrogen plant in Damietta after the People’s Assembly (PA) recommended that it be relocated.

The third largest nitrogen producer in the world said that moving the project was not a viable option, Reuters reported, and thus they would be looking at writing off the whole project.

The PA recommended Thursday that the Agrium plant currently under construction in Damietta be relocated to another area.

Discussing the issue at the assembly Thursday morning, 59 MPs called for the relocation of the plant in light of strong local opposition to the project.

The fact-finding committee commissioned by the PA to investigate the furor also made the same recommendation, thought it had cleared Agrium and various government bodies of any impropriety.

The Canadian company said that it would first evaluate the recommendations of Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif whose cabinet must now make the decision on the plant which has met with heavy local opposition in Damietta.

It is expected that Nazif will either propose buying out the Canadian company’s stake in the plant or offering Agrium a state-owned nitrogen plant nearby, according to the company.

The 33-page report of the PA committee concluded that there was no indication of any financial or administrative violations by either Agrium Egypt or the various government bodies involved in the project. It added that the environmental aspect of the project had been addressed appropriately and that the only point of contention was the plant’s location.

The committee had found no evidence of illegal commissions that some newspaper reports alleged were paid by the company to facilitate the procurement of the permits necessary to begin construction.

Reuters reported that current world demand for grain and squeezed supplies of fertilizer had boosted the prices of crop nutrients like fertilizers to an all time high.

The decision of the assembly will be seen as a victory for the groundswell of opposition in Damietta against the construction of the factory 6 kilometers away from residential areas and the tourist site of Ras El Bar. (See Page 8 for a travel story on Ras El Bar).

Relocating the plant will cost at least an additional $500 million according to figures presented to the fact-finding committee by Agrium Egypt.

Three thousand Damietta residents converged last Tuesday in front of the Doctors’ Syndicate in the governorate to continue their protests against the construction of the plant.

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