LONDON (ICIS)–The first of Nigerian producer Dangote Industries Limited’s 1.3m tonne/year granular urea line is undergoing trials and likely to begin exports in first half of 2021, several sources said on Tuesday.

The fertilizer facility is located at Ibeju Lekki in Lagos, and comprises two trains each of urea, both with a daily production capacity of 3,850 tonnes.

In the first phase, only one urea and ammonia line would be commissioned.

Tests at the plant are done and commissioning is likely to begin after 10 days once turbines start and power is available, said Devakumar Edwin, executive director at Dangote to local media.

The producer would reportedly be able to market its product in 90 days of receiving power.

“Realistically, we expect completion of the first Dangote line by the end of 2020, it is unlikely it will happen before. Commercial output should be available in second quarter 2021 or possibly first quarter,” said an international trader.

Other players said the plant could is ready and could start up by the end of the year, but everything will be dependant on how the market bounces back.

“The plant was complete anyway. I think it will start, but stability could only come by December-January). Initially, all new plants produce off spec product and that takes time to stabilise,” said another trader.

Dangote had started receiving gas supply from the Nigerian Gas Company and Chevron Nigeria Limited in late February.

The plant was to initially be commissioned in May but was delayed because of technical issues and the coronavirus pandemic, when Nigeria imposed a lockdown.

The producer plants to use 25% of its urea output for the domestic market while the rest will be exported, likely primarily to Latin America and west Africa.

The company had not responded to a request at the time of writing.

Nigeria already has two urea plants – the 1.4m tonne/year Indorama unit and the 500,000 tonne/year Notore facility.

Indorama’s second 1.6m tonne/year urea line is expected to start up in December 2020.

Indorama exports 70% of its production to markets, including Latin America, while 30% is allocated to the local market.

Notore’s production is primarily consumed domestically.

Another company, Brass Fertilizer and Petrochemical Company Limited (BFPCL), is looking to set up a 1.3m tonne/year urea and 1.7m tonne/year methanol plant in the state of Bayelsa.

The progress of the Brass project is not known with the plant unlikely to be commissioned any time soon.