Mexican state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos announced the acquisition of fertilizer maker Agro Nitrogenados, owned by a subsidiary of steelmaker Altos Hornos de Mexico, and said it plans to restart the company's dormant plant in 2015.

The project involves "investment of up to $475 million, including the purchase of existing assets, as well as the renovation and restart of the (company's) plant" in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, Pemex said.

Pemex estimates that the restart of fertilizer production will obviate the need for imports valued at more than $400 million annually and help small farmers in Mexico's less-developed south and southeast.

The acquisition also will lead to a resumption of production of urea, which is used to make fertilizer, Pemex said, adding that annual output of that raw material could total as much as 990,000 tons.

Once the plant has been revamped, the operation will be run by Pemex technicians and operators, the company said.

The oil company also said the energy-sector overhaul passed by Congress in December would greatly increase access to natural gas, which is used to make ammonia, another key ingredient in fertilizer production.

Ammonia will be supplied by Pemex's petrochemical complex in Cosoleacaque, Veracruz, which is just 28 kilometers (17 miles) from the Agro Nitrogenados plant, the oil company said. EFE