Asean Bintulu Fertilizer Project

Asean Bintulu Fertilizer Project (ABF)

In 1978, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) decided to build a fertilizer plant at Bintulu as a regional project. As Sarawak is not rich in natural fertilizer materials-such as potash, for example-the project was aimed at creating a region that is self-sufficient in synthetically produced fertilizer. The project could use natural gas from the Central Luconia field to make this aim a reality.

The ABF plant, which cost more than M$730 million to build, is now the largest granular urea plant in Asia and the biggest in the world in terms of production train capacity. It can produce 1,000 tonnes of ammonia and 1,800 tonnes of urea daily. Some 18% of these products are for Malaysia and the other Asean nations. The rest is exported to other countries.

In terms of developing the so-called downstreaming sector of the petrochemicals industry, this project has more than illustrated what can be done by moving in that direction. But the state government wants more. It hopes that from the resources being extracted and the advancement in technology, new industries such as plastics, fibres and textiles-even pharmaceuticals-can be created. And it is in these areas that the government is looking to foreign companies for their knowledge and expertise.