Special Edition: Middle East and African Feed Developments

Feed protein player Unibio evaluates West African deal

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Feed protein player Unibio evaluates West African deal

Related tags Natural gas Africa Nigeria

Denmark’s Unibio is evaluating a joint venture (JV) on methane gas to feed protein production in Nigeria.

The company has been holding discussions with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on a potential project related to its technology in that West African country. Nigeria is said to have abundant natural gas resources, and the NNPC has stated its interest in diversifying into non-oil based ventures.

“We are just at the preliminary stage of investigations, it would be premature to say what the JV would look like,”​ Unibio CEO, Henrik Busch-Larsen, told us. 

Kalundborg Opening -  Unibio CEO Henrik Busch-Larsen
UniBio CEO Henrik Busch-Larsen at opening of firm's first commercial plant last year.

The Danish company’s fermentation system​, known as U-Loop Technology, enables natural gas conversion into a highly concentrated feed protein product called Uniprotein.    

Nigeria has a massively underdeveloped feed industry and a population that is set to reach 300m from 187m (UN: 2016) today, thus surpassing that of the US. “Feed production is low in Nigeria compared to the population size.There is huge potential for our technology in Nigeria, in terms of future food security there,”​ said Busch-Larsen.

The protein generated would be used in Nigeria’s burgeoning poultry and aquaculture production sectors, which has been attracting interest from international players. Nutreco’s fish feed arm, Skretting, has been investing in the country’s fish feed sector in the past few years, while Olam International just inaugurated its new poultry feed mill, hatchery and breeder farms in Nigeria this week.

Additionally, said the Unibio CEO, Nigeria has a flare gas challenge, so the Unibio technology could also be a game-changer in managing that, converting it into a valuable product. “However, the gas would need to be treated for our purposes.”

Support from Danish fund

Busch-Larsen also confirmed that the IFU, a Danish government fund backing sustainability projects, has expressed interest in supporting such a potential tie-up between the NNPC and Unibio.

The IFU provides advisory services and risk capital to Danish companies wishing to do business in developing countries and emerging markets. Investments are made on commercial basis. It has been investing in some 100 countries over the last 50 years in over 30 sub-saharan African countries.

Henrik Henriksen, regional director, for IFU, West Africa, told this publication today:  

We are in dialogue with Unibio A/S and in line with our above mission and mandate, we are positive towards investing alongside strong Danish partners in commercially viable projects that at the same time contribute to economic and social development in the investment country.  

“When and if the dialogue and cooperation between the two parties matures, IFU will be pleased to consider investing alongside Unibio A/S in line with our mandate.”

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