16/05/2018 08:42 AST

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and Morocco’s OCP Group, the world's largest phosphate exporter, have signed an agreement to look at the phased creation of a fertiliser joint venture with plants in the UAE and the North African country.

“The agreement builds on the expanded partnership model we announced last year, as we open our entire value chain to reliable, value-adding, long-term partners, who can complement our capabilities and resources, and enhance our market access,” said Dr Sultan Al Jaber, UAE minister of state and Adnoc Group chief executive in a statement on Monday.

The pact between the two partners follows a long-term sulphur off-take partnership signed in December. Abu Dhabi is one of the world’s largest producers of sulphur, which is a byproduct of processing its largely sour gas reserves. Sulphur production currently stands at 7 million tonnes per annum, which Adnoc plans to increase by at least 50 per cent on the back of increased production from its sour gas caps.

Phosphate rock finds wide ranging uses in the fertilisers industry. The UAE outlined a Dh400 billion five-year investment plan last year to invest in exploring and producing its sour gas reserves as well as to acquire and develop downstream assets abroad. On Sunday, Adnoc announced a strategy to invest Dh165bn over the next five years in the refining and petrochemicals sector in the UAE, in partnership with international energy companies.

A fertiliser joint venture would allow for the creation of two hubs, one in Morocco, with access to European markets and another to the east of Suez in Ruwais, close to Asian markets. Adnoc would look to develop such a scheme close to its expanding refining and petrochemicals facilities in Abu Dhabi’s western region, using feedstock from its refineries. Part of the Abu Dhabi company’s downstream strategy involves developing a derivatives and conversion park adjacent to existing and planned facilities, which would be home to industry clusters.

Morocco’s OCP is currently undertaking a large-scale development programme to grow its fertiliser capacity to 12 million tonnes and rock export capacity to over 18 million tonnes.

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