Plant Construction & Process Technology

A Price Tag of 1.2 Billion Euros

Licensing, Engineering & Supply Services for Major Fertilizer Complex in Algeria by ThyssenKrupp Uhde

21.11.2012 -

Mega Project - As the world's population rises, there is a growing demand for fertilizers. Huge energy reserves, such as petroleum and natural gas deposits, are an ideal basis for a fertilizer complex. Therefore, ThyssenKrupp Uhde gets as close as it possibly can to the feedstock sources in order to offer its customers the greatest possible operational economy for the plant.

A new fertilizer complex in Arzew, some 350 km north-west of the Algerian capital Algiers, comprises two ammonia plants with respective production capacities of 2,200 t/d and a urea plant with a production capacity of 3,450 t/d plus numerous offsites and auxiliaries, such as storage and shipping facilities. The Algerian company Sorfert Algérie, which runs the complex, is a joint venture between Orascom Construction Industries (OCI) and Sonatrach, the Algerian state oil and gas company. The basic engineering began in mid-2007, and after a construction period of less than 4 years OCI started production at the new fertilizer complex in the first quarter of 2012.
With a price tag of €1.2 billion, the Sorfert project has been the biggest single order in Uhde's history thus far. 250,000 t of freight, including 15,000 t of structural steel, 11,000 t of piping and hundreds of pieces of engineering equipment, were provided by materials suppliers from 17 countries and transported in a total 350 shipments. But there was more to this landmark project than can be expressed simply by numbers. Sophisticated project management was also necessary to ensure that the construction schedule progressed smoothly.

Process Technology and Project Delivery Network
The ammonia plant is based on Uhde‘s proprietary ammonia process while the urea plant uses Stamicarbon's synthesis process. The license for the fluid-bed urea granulation process was supplied by Uhde Fertilizer Technology, who took over the exclusive license rights for this technology from Yara in 2005. All selected processes are particularly environment-friendly and meet the stringent Algerian and European standards. The plant uses domestic sources of natural gas as feedstock. Sorfert Algérie mainly produces the more than 1.1 million t/y of urea fertilizer and the around 750,000 t of excess ammonia to serve export markets.
ThyssenKrupp Uhde has been able to combine the advantages of its intelligent network and the close cooperation of a number of local organizations within the Sorfert project. For example, the engineering concept was developed with Uhde India and local authorities; Uhde India, Uhde Engineering de México, Uhde Engineering Egypt and other international engineering offices were involved as early as the basic engineering phase; and a substantial part of the detail engineering was prepared by Uhde India. Uhde Shanghai, Uhde India and Uhde Engineering Egypt were involved in the global procurement concept and provided extensive expediting and inspection services including permitting.

Logistics and Staffing
Given the global nature of the procurement activities, the Sorfert project posed a major logistical challenge. The project equipment was shipped to Algeria from over 17 countries around the world. The consignments were inspected for the customer by skilled personnel at the loading ports and at the destination port.
A heavy road haulage specialist from Dortmund, Germany was put on hand at the port of discharge to assist the customer in particular with the heavy lifts which had a unit weight of up to 450 t.
The staffing of the on-site construction supervision was also planned globally from the outset. The Document Management and PDMS functions are being staffed by Uhde India, which is also providing support for MC Management and Schedule Controlling. Uhde Engineering Egypt is providing the Warehouse Manager and support for QA/QC. TK PDNA Engineering is providing the supervisors for erection of the tanks and piping. Thus, together with the local workers and other specialists from all four corners of the globe, a very harmonious team has been formed.

Know-How and Process Supervision
"We are tasked with supervising all the erection work undertaken by our Egyptian erection partner Orascom and with monitoring on-schedule completion in accordance with the quality standards", said Martin Heydemann, ThyssenKrupp Uhde Project Director of the Sorfert Algérie project.
There are generally several thousand construction workers assigned by Orascom to the concrete and steel construction work, the tank and piping prefabrication, as well as the laying of the underground plastic piping, some of which is
2 m thick.

Communications Management and Risk Analyses
In order to implement prompt communications management provisions have been made, such as electronic document interchange, daily meetings, video and telephone conferences and regular site meetings have been made.
Risk analyses were conducted on a continuous basis during the RFQ phase and on project kick-off in addition to the normal risk assessment processes at Uhde. This served to minimize the impact of the various problems during the course of the project.

Effective Schedule
Scheduling was faced with a particular challenge in this project. Overall, the scheduling tasks were carried out at four main locations with different partners. In addition to sheer distance between the locations in India, Egypt and Germany, it was also necessary to take account of the cultural aspects, standard practices and concepts within the schedule. To this end, detailed project execution methods were developed with the partners and successfully implemented. In excess of 7,500 engineering and procurement activities were kept up to date at all times by the international ThyssenKrupp Uhde Team, and the results were drawn upon for project control. Highest priority was given to the primary objective of servicing the interface with the construction site in Algeria on schedule. An interface schedule with more than 800 agreed dates was drawn up for the handovers from EP to Construction and from Construction to Commissioning alone, and this was updated at regular, short intervals. A similarly high amount of effort was invested in scheduling during the commissioning phase in order to identify bottlenecks at an early stage and to take every opportunity to expedite the process.

Security Concepts
So as to ensure that work on the construction site would progress as smoothly as possible, important security aspects were also taken into consideration during the contractual negotiations. The customer Sorfert, for example, is responsible for protecting the construction site and for arranging police escorts, which are required for all trips undertaken by foreigners.
An extensive security concept has been drawn up in consultation with Human Resources, the HSE/Security Department and with specialists from the ThyssenKrupp Group in order to guarantee the security of employees in the host country. This concept is based on a security survey which was conducted by an international security consultant in the host country and is regularly updated.
The concept essentially involves the following measures:

  • Pre-arrival training for all persons travelling to the construction site
  • Security briefing following arrival in the host country
  • Preparation and updating of emergency and evacuation procedures
  • Establishing alarm chains and testing them regularly
  • Safety training for all Uhde drivers
  • Definition of minimum standards in accommodation for personnel
  • Security and medical audits

Compliance with security measures is checked on an ongoing basis, logged and, where necessary, adapted to reflect the current situation. Support in particular situations is ensured through a 24-hour on-call service. 


ThyssenKrupp Uhde

Friedrich-Uhde-Straße 15
44141 Dortmund

+49 231 547 0
+49 231 547 3032