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Publication > Issue > Articles

KBR transforms resources into value

Summary

A raft of new ammonia business heralds the start of another busy year for the US engineering, procurement and construction company, KBR.

Abstract

The US company KBR is headquartered in Houston, Texas – often called The energy capital of the world. The company employs over 50,000 people worldwide in locations that include the United States, Australia, Africa, the UK, Asia and the Middle East. The group’s business segments include:

  • Downstream
  • Gas Monetisation
  • Infrastructure and minerals
  • International Government and Defence
  • North American Government and Defence
  • Oil and Gas
  • Power and Industrial
  • Services
  • Technology
  • Ventures.

In particular, KBR differentiates itself as a technology-driven engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) company, proud of its reputation as a low-cost, high-efficiency and totally reliable service provider, and it enjoys leadership in transforming hydrocarbon resources into value across all sectors of the energy and chemicals industries.

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Koch Fertilizer port investments create value worldwide

Summary

Koch Fertilizer LLC this year celebrates 21 years of commitment to the international fertilizer industry. From its early beginnings as the owner of an ammonia pipeline, the company is exten­ding its global reach with a newly-announced pro­gramme to enhance its deepwater terminals in ports around the world.

Abstract

On 22 February, Koch Fertilizer LLC announced a major development programme that will enhance its deepwater terminals in key ports around the world. The investment programme will include the construction of new facilities, leases of additional space and the expansion of existing operations. The locations that will benefit include:

  • Sète, southern France
  • Avonmouth, UK
  • Geelong, Victoria, Australia
  • Topolobampo, Gulf of California, Mexico
  • Charleston, South Carolina, USA.

The additions will raise Koch Fertilizers’ worldwide dry bulk, liquid and ammonia storage capacity to over 2 million tonnes.

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World nitrogen trade: hints of recovery

Summary

We review of the dynamics and drivers in international trade in ammonia and urea, taking account of the new capacities that are scheduled to come on stream in the short- and medium terms.

Abstract

International trade in nitrogen is now recovering after reeling under the full impact of the global economic and financial crisis that erupted in late 2008. The following 12-15 months were marked by the destruction of demand and a hiatus in international trade, exacerbated by a freeze in trade finance, bloated stocks of unsold product and savage cuts in global production. However, the dawn of 2010 has been marked by a more optimistic outlook for trade in ammonia, urea, as well as other nitrogen products which are now gaining an enhanced international profile, notably UAN. Joint ventures between suppliers and their major customers are also expected to impact on international trade flows for nitrogen products.

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Joint ventures make an impact

Summary

International trade in ammonia, urea and other nitrogen products takes several forms, ranging from spot shipments to fulfil immediate market needs, to tonnages supplied under monthly, quarterly and yearly contracts. An increasing proportion of the volumes being shipped is now accounted by tonnages supplied under joint-venture partnerships.

Abstract

An increasing proportion of the ammonia and urea being traded is now tied in with joint ventures involving suppliers with large supplies of relatively cheap natural gas and buyers who have substantial unfulfilled demand. One of the earliest such alliances now celebrates its 40th anniversary, when the young Qatar Fertilizer Co. (Qafco) signed a 75:25 joint venture agreement with Norsk Hydro (now Yara) of Norway, whereby the Norwegian company takes one quarter of the QAFCO output. This was the precursor to many more such joint production and marketing agreements in the Arab/Persian Gulf region and increasingly elsewhere. Qafco now operates four ammonia/urea trains, with 2.0 million t/a of ammonia and 2.9 million t/a of urea capacity. A letter of intent has now been signed on the world-scale $3.2 billion Qafco V project. Yara continues with its 25% stake in these ventures, which have helped make the company one of the world’s leading ammonia traders.

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A bull market for enhancements

Summary

A look at the latest technological advances, with a focus on environmental enhancements.

Abstract

There has been no let-up in the impetus towards upgrading nitrogen facilities around the world. The factors that have prompted a renewed surge in plant revamps include:

  • Carbon trading: new legislation is coming into place that seeks major reductions in the fertilizer industry’s carbon emissions
  • Plant age profiles: many ammonia and urea plants continue in production that date from the 1970s or even earlier
  • A continuing drive towards enhanced efficiency, lower production costs and overall environmental compliance
  • The revival of mothballed plants in India and the prospect of the modernisation of nitrogen fertilizer plants in the Former Soviet Union.

Reducing carbon emissions is now at the top of the fertilizer industry’s agenda. A cap-and-trade system for CO2 is already operating in Europe, and other countries are implementing comparable schemes or considering new legislation, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan and South Korea. (Global Fertilizers and Raw Materials Supply 2009-2013, Michel Prud’homme, IFA. Paper presented at IFA Annual Conference, Shanghai [May 2009].)

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Phosphate rock processing: spotlight on calcination

Summary

Some phosphate rocks require the additional stage of calcination into order to remove the organic content that would otherwise impede effective downstream processing.

Abstract

he preparation of phosphate rock for further downstream processing into added-value products may involve up to five processes in which the impurities and non-phosphate materials are removed:

  • Overburden removal and mining
  • Washing and flotation (beneficiation)
  • Wet rock transportation and storage
  • Grinding
  • Calcination.

The January/February 2010 issue of Fertilizer International examined issues re­lated to the grinding phase. (Grinding and mills: applications in phosphate and potash mining operations, pp37-44.) We now turn the spotlight on to calcination.

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Korab looks north

Summary

Good progress is being made with the GeolSec phosphate rock project in Northern Territory

Abstract

Another company that is advancing a phosphate project in Australia’s Northern Territory is Korab Resour­ces. Via its subsidiary, Geolsec Phosphates Operations Pty Ltd., the company has begun securing permits and regulatory approvals to develop and operate the GeolSec phosphate rock project in the state. The GeolSec phosphate rock deposit is part of the AN515 prospect with an estimated 1.3 million tonnes of phosphate rock with an average grade of 12% P2O5. The deposit contains pockets of high-grade rock, with grades in excess of 25% P2O5, rising to 39%. Korab Resources plans to mine these at a very low cost to supply between 10-30,000 t/a of ground phosphate rock for direct application.

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Legend's Chinese boost

Summary

Chinese investment underwrites a new Queensland phosphate project.

Abstract

The Georgina and McArthur Basins of central Queensland, Australia contain some of the largest undeveloped phosphate deposits in the world, with defined deposits of more than 1 billion tonnes at 16% P2O5. The latest company seeking to exploit these reserves is Legend International Holdings Inc., which plans to develop a 5 million t/a phosphate rock mine, an on-site beneficiation plant, phosphoric acid unit and associated road/ rail transport facilities at the Port of Townsville. In November 2009, the project received a considerable boost when Legend announced that it had formed a strategic alliance with Wengfu Group of China. The two companies have agreed to work together on the feasibility study initially for the mining and beneficiation of phosphate rock. Pending a favourable study assessment, Legend and Wengfu will also evaluate the production of speciality phosphate products derived from phosphoric acid.

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Minemakers passes a key milestone

Summary

Minemakers Limited is notching a succession of key stages in its Wonarah project, with the promise of providing "Phosphates for a Hungry World." This is the progress to date.

Abstract

The new year of 2010 went off to a flying start for Minemakers Limited and was marked by the export of the first bulk samples of the company’s direct shipping phosphate ore (DSO) from its mine at Wonarah. The samples were shipped from the Northern Territory port of Darwin and were destined for trials by a potential customer in India. Further samples have since been shipped for trials in New Zealand.

This is a key marker in Minemakers’ development of the Wonarah phosphate project. An additional target was passed when Minemakers revealed that it had received approval for a Stage II bulk sampling operation. Andrew Drummond, Managing Director, was understandably delight­ed with these advances. “The export of this DSO product is a significant milestone along Minemakers’ intended development of a major export phosphate industry from Wonarah,” he said. In particular, it will provide valuable mining, engineering, density, geological and grade control data that will feed into the finalisation of the bankable feasibility study.

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The Nolans flagship

Summary

Fast progress is being made in the Nolans rare earths and phosphate project in Northern Territory, with the added fillip of a major Chinese shareholder.

Abstract

Another phosphate project in Australia which has attracted Chinese investors is the Nolans project that Arafura Resources is promoting in the Northern Territory. In April 2009, the Perth-based company announced that it had entered into an equity investment agreement with Jiangsu Eastern China Non-Ferrous Metals Investment Holding Co. Ltd. (JEC), whereby the latter company would inject capital that would enable Arafura to proceed with the development of its Nolans Bore rare earths and phosphate project. The deal with JEC required, and in May 2009, subsequently received the approval of the Foreign Investment Review Board of the Australian government. Following this approval, JEC has acquired up to 25% of the issue capital of Arafura for around A$22.9 million.

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Detergents in phosphates: friend or foe?

Summary

We examine the work of the non-profit Global Phosphate Forum, which promotes the sharing of information and transfer of experience between companies concerning the impacts of detergent phosphates on the environment and the recovery and recycling of phosphates. Can phosphates be a sustainable component in detergents and offer an environmentally positive option for cleaning and hygiene?

Abstract

Phosphates are a key ingredient in modern, high-performance detergents for laundry washing machines, hand washing of laundry, domestic and industrial dishwashers, institutional laundry detergents and other industrial cleaning applications. Laundry detergents are formulated from six groups of substances:

  • Surfactants
  • Builders
  • Bleaching agents
  • Enzymes
  • Fillers
  • Other minor additives.

Detergents usually contain several types of surfactants, such as soaps, alkylbenzenesulphonate and ethoxylated fatty alcohols. The mixture is balanced to control foaming and provide washing efficiency according to the washing temperatures, types of fabric and water hardness. Surfactant efficiency is reduced in hard water.

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Compass Minerals - a company for all seasons

Summary

A severe northern hemisphere winter has put the salt-based de-icing product operations of Compass Minerals into the public spotlight. The onset of spring will shift attention towards the company's high-value potash operations. Via its subsidiary Great Salt Lake Minerals, the company is keen to raise its production capacity of this key nutrient.

Abstract

As this issue goes to press, people in the northern hemisphere will be welcoming the first signs of spring. Many, especially along the North American eastern seaboard and throughout northern Europe, will be glad to see the back of one of the most severe winters in recent memory. Exceptionally severe snowfalls threatened to disrupt everyday lives as transport systems struggled to cope. This inclement weather raised the profile of a keynote supplier of de-icing products, as Compass Minerals is the number one salt producer and highway de-icing supplier in North America and the United Kingdom. The Compass Minerals’ winter product portfolio is boosted by a range of magnesium chloride de-icing and de-dusting products, for which the company is the market leader in North America.

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