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Tunisia - The Fertilisers Sector.

Tunisia is the fourth largest producer of phosphate in the world and one of the biggest exporters of fertilisers among the Middle East and North African (MENA) countries. As such, this is one of the major industrial sectors in the country.

Tunisia is likely to retain this role for a long time in view of the size of its reserves of phosphate. The country has sufficient reserves of phosphate to last for up to 100 years at the levels of fertilisers production maintained since the early 1990s.

The production of phosphates in Tunisia is averaging overn ten million tons per annum. This compares with about 7.9 million tons/year in 1997. Production levels have not changed much since 2010. This sector, which mainly involves phosphate processing, is under the control of Groupe Chimique Tunisien (GCT), which consists of 12 operating companies. GCT has the capacity to produce the following:

4.6 million t/y of phosphate rock;
over 700,000 t/y of phosphoric acid;
1 million t/y of triple superphosphate (TSP);
600,000 t/y of diammonium phosphate (DAP);
300,000 t/y of nitrogen-phosphate-potash (NPK); and
100,000 t/y of mono-ammonium phosphate.

Kuwait has an important stake in the Tunisian fertilisers sector, with its state-owned Petrochemical Industries Co. (PIC) having a 49% equity in four of GCT's subsidiaries:

Industries Chimiques Maghrebines (ICM),
Societe Industrielle d'Acide Phosphorique et d'Engrais (SIAPE),
Societe des Engrais de Gabes (SAEPA), and
Compagnie des Industries Chimiques de Gafsa (ICG).
PIC has a 50% stake in Compagnie d'Etudes des Mines de Phosphate Sira Wartan.

In the mid-1980s the capacity to produce fertilisers was expanded, with the focus put on the complex at Gabes operated by SAEPA. One facility at the complex, SAEPA-1, has units to produce 1,500 tons/day of sulphuric acid, two phosphoric acid plants with each having the capacity of 400 tons/day, and 1,000 t/y of DAP.

SAEPA-2, built by Creusot-Loire Enterprise of France, has a 1,000 t/d ammonium nitrate plant using imported ammonia as feedstock. SAEPA-2 supplies nitrogenous fertilisers to the local market.

At the Gafsa fertiliser complex, ICG has two TSP plants with a combined capacity of 400,000 t/y. The second unit at Gafsa was brought on stream in April 1985.

ICM has three plants in Gabes, producing 430,000 t/y of phosphoric acid, 100,000 t/y of TSP and 60,000 t/y of DAP.

In the complex at Sfax, SIAPE used to operate two granulated TSP plants with a combined capacity of 530,000 t/y. One of these plants had to be closed down because of environmental problems. The other plant has a unit for phosphoric acid purification, using the Pembroke process.

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Publication:APS Review Downstream Trends
Geographic Code:6TUNI
Date:Apr 11, 2016
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