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