BC Insight - Nitrogen+Syngas, Sulphur, Fertilizer International
Login
BCInsight Ltd
China Works
Black Prince Road
London, SE1 7SJ
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7793 2567
Fax: +44 (0)20 7793 2577

Publication > Issue > Articles

New North America horizons

Summary

The past year has seen the emergence of a UBig Three" of North American fertilizer producers, of Chicago-based IMC Global, the mineral giant, Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (PCS), and now, Agrium Inc. Just over 20 years ago, North America could muster nearly 100 producers, but numbers have now shrunk to just a dozen or so key players. Their expansion has been encouraged and. closely monitored by US stock markets, which have marked up fertilizer share prices to record heights. Wall Street had for many years all but ignored fertilizer companies. But will this new-found interest continue in the longer term? Fertilizer International investigates...

Abstract

For several years, it has been possible to buy fertilizers on Wall Street. However, while companies such as IMC Global and Freeport Agrico were quoted on the New York Stock Exchange, stock market analysts rarely tipped them as a buy option. This situation changed almost overnight from 1994, since when fertilizer stocks have been buoyant, and the influx of new funds from investors did much to fill the corporate coffers of IMC and PCS and fund their massive acquisition programmes of the past two years.

What prompted the change of heart, whereby - against all obvious odds fertilizer stocks became positively glamorous? One factor was the major restructuring that the leading North American producers were obliged to undertake at the height of the fertilizer market recession in the first half of the 1990s. Redundant capacity was decommissioned, non-core operations. were sold, and companies resorted to "downsizing" their staff in order to achieve improved economies of scale. They were thus in a strong position to maximise their advantage from the eventual revival in demand in prices for fertilizers that occurred as world grain stocks declined and diets in developing countries turned increasingly to grainintensive proteins, including beef, pork and poultry.

Add to basket


Eastern promise

Summary

Cargo inspectors are in the front line of international trade in fertilizers. The nature of their work continues to evolvel as the leading companies offer new services specifically tailored to the needs of fertilizer clients. The transformation of the former Soviet Unionl and the concomitant need to change everyday working practicesl have also led to a new demand for the specialised skills of the independent cargo inspector. The latest developments are summarised in this review.

Abstract

International trade in fertilizers is well organised, but risk is never far away. Will the cargo be delivered to the customer, in the right quantity, at the right time, and in perfect quality? The cargo inspector is there to ensure that these criteria are meet, and that risk is eliminated from the transaction - as far as feasible. Cargo inspection is a competitive market, and several major players have gained a well-earned reputation for the quality and comprehensiveness of the service they offer to clients. In every fertilizer trading transaction, much is at stake, and the inspection companies will monitor the progress of the consignment at the key stages along the distribution chain: thus, at the manufacturing plant, during the loading and discharge operations, at storage warehouses, and at the point of delivery, the cargo inspector is ready to carry out his demanding duties on behalf of the client.

Al> well as a portfolio of professional skills and experience, sensitivity and tact are additional attributes an inspector must display. The interests of the client are his sole concern, as he considers the question: "How good is the cargo?" Other parties may not have the same interests at heart, but may try to rush the inspector into sending the cargo on its way. Mistakes are expensive, so the cargo inspector must be prepared to adhere to his own judgement.

Add to basket


Seeking a place in the sun

Summary

Better times are at hand for the South African fertilizer industry, which has benefited from an increase in international market sales, as well as a healthy rate of growth at home. However, the country's leading producers are aware that they must address several key issues as they seek to become more competitive.

Abstract

South Africa is no longer the pariah ofinternational diplomacy, and its return to the fold has been accompanied byan increase in exportsales, especially of phosphoric acid intermediates and finished fertilizers, to many markets which were previously closed to it. In 1994, South African fertilizer exports totalled some 210,000 tonnes: in 1995, this figure rose to an estimated 380,000 tonnes, ensuring that plants enjoyed more economic capacity utilisation rates. In addition, South Africa exports around 400,000 tla P20 S ofphosphoric acid and just under 1 million tla ofphosphate rock.

The Fertilizer Society ofSouth Africa (FSSA) reports that domestic consumption was 11% up on the same period in 1995, and this trend was expected to continue to the end ofthe year. The improvement in consumption was attributed to very favourable climatic conditions, significantly increased yields of most crops, and good crop prices. The volume ofagricultural production alone rose by more than 40% in 1995/96. The favourable climatic

Add to basket


A focus on pollution control

Summary

Over the past two decades, fertilizer manufacturers have been able to raise the productivity of their granulation plants considerably. However, they have meanwhile had to pay greater attention to emissions, in both air and water, as higher production rates not only increase the consumption of raw materials but also raise the level of emissions-mainly as a result of the higher operating temperatures that stem from the larger heat inputs-for example, from the heat of reaction or crystallisation.

Abstract

Fertilizer manufacturers have had to tackle issues ofpollution under the powerful gaze of government regulatory authorities and the general public. While the newest fertilizer plants can be expected to conform to the most stringent standards of emission control, older operations may have to be retrofitted with the appropriate modifications to reduce any adverse impact on the environment. In extreme cases, it may not be economical to undertake any further investment at a plant, which would thus have to be closed down.

In the case of NPK and DAP fertilizers, the process for each of these products involves different types ofpollution problems. Each process shares the following pollutants:

  • Dust: solid particles that are generated byhandling, crushing, grinding and decrepitation. Fertilizer dust settles by gravity, and varies in particle size.
  • Fume: solid particles generated by condensation from gaseous states. Typical fertilizer fumes are ammoniurn chloride and ammonium fluoride.
  • Mist: suspended liquid drops by condensation from gaseous to liquid state or by breaking up a liquid into a dispersed state (via splashing and foaming).
  • Gas: this is normally formless fluid that occupies the space ofan enclosure and which is changed to liquid or solid only by the combination ofincreased pressure and decreased temperature.
  • Vapour: gaseous states of a solid or liquid that can be returned to the original state either byincreasing pressur of decreasing temperature. Ammonia and fluoride compounds are typical examples of fertilizer process vapours.

 

Add to basket