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Publication > Issue > Articles

Up and running in record time

Summary

Nitrogen & Methanol visited the new EFC ammonia/urea plant at Suez, quite fortuitously on the day the first urea granules were produced. The rapid completion of this project is a considerable achievement both for its owners and for the contractors, Krupp Uhde and Orascom.

Abstract

The Egyptian Fertilizers Company (EFC) was founded in February 1998 to establish an export ammonia/urea complex in Suez. Nitrogen & Methanol was invited to visit the complex during its commissioning phase in early September 2000. The visit coincided with the first production of granular urea on 5 September 2000. This article gives an account of the genesis of the project and its rapid progress to completion.

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Ibn Zahr weighs up the options

Summary

Nitrogen & Methanol takes a look at SABIC's methyl tert-butyl ether manufacturing subsidiary, Ibn Zahr.

Abstract

As history threatens to repeat itself with the strongest upsurge in oil prices seen since the oil shocks of the 1970s, it is salutary to see to extent to which global trade and industry has changed in the past quarter century. The overnight quadrupling of oil prices in 1973/74 effectively ended the unbroken economic boom enjoyed by the western industrial nations since 1945, giving the oil-producing members of the OPEC consortium a period of unprecedented wealth – and economic power. This proved somewhat short-lived among many of the oil exporters, as the unexpected oil windfall was squandered. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was a notable exception, and the country’s rulers were prescient when they established Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) in 1976, with the goal of spearheading the industrial drive beyond oil production.

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A step change in production capacity

Summary

The world methanol industry gathered in Copenhagen last November at a time when methanol prices had defied predictions once again, and were soaring back above $230/t. While the industry was pleased about the development, the question was: how long would it last? Particularly since the other hot topic was of course the new generation of 5,000+ t/d plants, aiming to bring production costs down to $80/t and below.

Abstract

The 2000 World Methanol Conference returned to Europe in November, when 360 delegates gathered in the SAS Radisson Hotel in Copenhagen from the 8th to 10th, to discuss the current shape of the world methanol industry. This was the 18th annual world methanol conference organised by James Crocco, formerly of Crocco and Associates and now part of the CMAI consultancy group. Formally opening the proceedings, Jim, as usual, began by introducing the newly-elected president of the International Methanol Producers’ and Consumers’ Association (IMPCA), in this case Hans Van der Kaay, from Lyondell, Rotterdam. Mr Van der Kaay talked briefly about IMPCA’s current work, including an IMPCA website (expected to be up and running by mid-2001), and the student bursary scheme which was currently funding two students.

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The sky's the limit...?

Summary

Ammonia-urea plants have tended to grow larger over the years in response to structural changes in the industry and its markets and to take advantage of economies of scale. But how much bigger can they get?

Abstract

The synthesis of ammonia was originally developed in Germany and was first applied industrially in the First World War to generate fixed nitrogen from indigenous raw materials for use in munitions manufacture. It provided a much more economical route to the concentrated nitric acid that was vital for explosives production than either the Birkeland-Eyde electric arc process, which produced nitrogen oxides direct from atmospheric air, or the processing of natural nitrates. The latter were in any case only available from Chile, so the supply was restricted and, in wartime, liable to disruption. The value of synthetic ammonia as a basis for nitrogen fertilizers was, of course, fully appreciated, and with the return to peace indigenous ammonia and nitrogen chemicals industries were quickly spawned in all the most industrially-advanced countries.

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Anti-dumping and the WTO

Summary

There can be few more contentious issues within the global fertilizer industry than that of so-called 'dumping' and other alleged unfair practises. This article reviews the WTO rules on applying measures against 'dumping'.

Abstract

While it is a generally-accepted principle that free trade between nations is likely to enrich all, the WTO agreement allows restriction to trade under exceptional circumstances. The agreement considers three issues to be the most important:

  • actions taken against ‘dumping’.
  • subsidies and ‘countervailing’ duties to offset such subsidies.
  • emergency measures to limit imports temporarily, designed to safeguard domestic industries.

 

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