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Agrium grows across the value chain

Summary

As the only globally publicly quoted company that covers the entire agricultural input chain, Agrium Inc. spans the sectors of wholesale production, retail sales of seeds, nutrients and crop protection products, and the development of speciality nutrient products.

Abstract

Having reported $10.5 billion in net sales in 2010, Spring 2011 is set to be a good one for Agrium Inc. Crop prices and grower crop budgets are well above historical averages; North American fertilizer inventories remain below the 5-year averages; and grower sentiment and demand remains strong. These factors are expected to translate into strong sales and healthy margins for the diversified fertilizer producer, wholesaler and retailer, whose corporate motto is Strength through growth and diversity.

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AMEC serves the global potash industry

Summary

AMEC designs, delivers and maintains strategic assets for its customers in the natural resources, energy and process industries around the world, offering services which extend from environmental and front-end engineering design services before the start of the project, to decommissioning at the end of an asset's life. Potash makes a significant contribution to the company's Canadian portfolio.

Abstract

AMEC’s business units comprise Natural Resources, Power & Process, and Earth & Environmental. The Natural Resources segment contributed just over half of revenues of £2.95 billion in 2010 and 57% of EBITDA. This division is recognised as a world leader in the provision of engineering, project management and asset support services, notably in upstream oil and gas, unconventional oil and in surface mining. Worldwide, AMEC employs 22,000 people.

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Can markets pick up from mandates?

Summary

On 16 March, the latest in a series of Webinars organised jointly by The Sulphur Institute (TSI) and BCInsight Ltd. examined biofuel trends and impacts on fertilizers, fossil fuels and sulphur. We summarise the presentation by Dr. Chris de Brey of TSI.

Abstract

Between 2000 and 2010, global production of ethanol from biofuel sources rose fivefold, from 5 billion gallons in 2000 to an estimated 25 billion gallons last year. Production is dominated by Brazil, the United States and members of the European Union, with China and India also now investing in new bio-ethanol capacity. (Table 1)

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Oil sands maintain a place in the sun for Canada's sulphur

Summary

Canada is the world's largest exporter of elemental sulphur but its share of world market trade has slipped in recent years as output from sour gas processing declines. However, this production is being steadily replaced by a new source of sulphur, from the Albertan oil sands deposits.

Abstract

Canada shipped an estimated 3.56 million tonnes of sulphur from the port of Vancouver in 2010, compared with 4.12 million tonnes in 2009. The trend during the past decade has been one of steady decline, although the latest forecasts suggest that the downturn in exports via Vancouver may start to level off in 2011, to around 3.32 million tonnes.

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Why Canpotex has never lost a customer

Summary

Since it was founded in 1972, Canpotex Limited has shipped over 169 million tonnes of Saskatchewan potash to over 50 countries. We examine the fundamentals of its global success as the world's leading potash exporter.

Abstract

Canpotex Limited is the world’s largest exporter of potash, marketing and distributing Saskatchewan potash internationally, principally to countries in Asia, Latin America and Oceania. Operating since 1972 and with offices in Saskatoon, Vancouver, Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo, Canpotex is owned by the three Saskatchewan potash producers: Agrium Inc., The Mosaic Company, and Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (PotashCorp). Together they operate ten potash mines in the province, collectively representing the largest concentration of potash capacity in the world. In the course of nearly 40 years, Canpotex has shipped more than 169 million tonnes to over 50 countries.

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CFI: We're Growing Sustainability™

Summary

The Canadian Fertilizer Institute (CFI) has adopted a new motto, "We're Growing Sustainability™" and to underline its commitment to a new way of doing business, the association has trademarked the phrase. "Our goal is to ensure that everyone in Canada understands that sustainability is more than just a slogan for the Canadian fertilizer industry," said Hugh Loomans, CFI Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Abstract

Canada’s fertilizer industry is proactively tackling the key sustainability challenges: protecting the public from accidents and misuse of fertilizer products, safeguarding the environment and maintaining economic stability. “Farmers need solid economic results in order to invest in stewardship and industry needs to develop our programs in ways that support our customers,” Loomans notes. Success in all three pillars of sustainability is essential to maintaining the Canadian industry’s global role in helping to feed the world.

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Do's and don'ts of mega-project management

Summary

You wish to bring a new start-of-the-art worldscale fertilizer plant on stream and catch a rising market. The cost will be no less than $1.5 billion. Your shareholders want to an early return on their investment. What are your options?

Abstract

Projects to bring new fertilizer plants and raw material projects on stream are becoming ever more complex, and extremely expensive too. Vertical integration is becoming the norm, involving downstream processing plants, warehousing, port and rail infrastructures. The average world-class ammonia/urea plant today usually requires an investment of at least $1.5 billion – a figure which can be easily rise during the early project development phases, as steel, other raw material and labour costs escalate. In his recent presentation, Flawless Project Development at CRU Events’ Nitrogen+Syngas 2011 conference, Jorge A. Camps, Global General Manager, Syngas of Jacobs Consultancy Inc. observed that the global nitrogen fertilizer industry overspent hundreds of millions of dollars during the past decade while developing world-class projects. Much money was wasted, due to:

l Project cancellations
l Project delays
l Misallocation of resources.

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What's new in acid technology?

Summary

Sulphur 2010, convened by CRU Events in Prague between 1-4 November¸ proved an excellent showcase for the latest advances in sulphuric acid technology. We summarise the presentations that were made.

Abstract

Bayer Technology Services (BTS) has refined its Bayqik® sulphuric acid process, which is characterised by the conversion of SO2-rich gases. The new production process is based on the reaction of pure sulphur with pure oxygen and is marketed as the SulfO2Bay process.

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PotashCorp reports new records

Summary

Having fended off the unwelcome attentions of BHP Billiton in its abortive take-over bid last year, Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan – PotashCorp – can focus its attention on what it does best: the production and marketing of potash, other fertilizers and feed products.

Abstract

On 28 April, PotashCorp reported record first-quarter earnings of $732 million, 71% above the $444 million earned in the same period in 2010. The company reported higher income from all of its core segments of potash, phosphate and nitrogen products.

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Liberalisation by 2015?

Summary

Russian fertilizer producers have been concerned at the higher prices they must pay for their natural gas feedstock, fearing a loss of competitiveness in export markets. Most of this gas is supplied by Gazprom, which enjoys a quasi-monopoly. However, in a fresh twist in official energy policy, the Russian gas market may be liberalised within five years' time. Georgy Eliseev, Head of Strategy at SIBUR Fertilizers, explains a very convoluted system.

Abstract

The increase in gas prices faced by nitrogen fertilizer producers in Russia is a serious challenge to the competitiveness of the country’s fertilizer exports. On 1 January 2011, the FST (Federal Service for Tariffs) – the authority responsible for setting tariffs for monopolies – raised the regulated Gazprom domestic gas prices by 15% in all regional tariff zones. However, this increase had no link to a formula of “equal margins”, confounding expectations. Such an increase of the local currency-nominated tariffs was in line with the Russian producers’ inflation index (PPI) of 16.7% in 2010, and the new prices have been set for 2011 in the range of $2.0-3.0/mmBtu ($70-105/1,000 m2). This price level is higher than the tariffs in the low-cost nitrogen exporters of North Africa and the Middle East but is still considerably lower than in the gas-deficient regions. In this way, Russian fertilizers remain competitive in Europe, India and Latin America, despite the long distances and transportation costs.

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SNC-Lavalin celebrates its centenary

Summary

On 11 April, the Canadian engineering group SNC-Lavalin launched its 100th anniversary celebrations. Evidence of its achievements can be found throughout Canada and around the world, and the group today is a key partner in several major fertilizer projects.

Abstract

At the official launch of SNC-Lavalin’s 100th anniversary celebrations on 11 April, President and CEO Pierre Duhaime said, “This is a tremendous achievement, and we’re very proud of every one of our employees, both past and present, who have made SNC-Lavalin the amazing company it is today.”

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Higher phosphate values foster a fresh look

Summary

The escalation in energy prices and new laboratory test works have together revived interest in this potential source of additional revenue to the phosphates industry.

Abstract

The world average uranium content in phosphate rock is estimated at 50-200 ppm. Marine phosphorite deposits contain averages of 60-120 ppm, while organic phosphorite deposits contain up to 600 ppm. (Source: Wise Uranium Project) World uranium resources in phosphate rock are only approximately known, and Table 1 shows very approximate inventories.

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Vale builds a strong fertilizer platform

Summary

A global leader in phosphate rock and potash markets by 2017 is the stated goal of Vale Fertilizantes of Brazil. Edson Souki, General Manager, Global Marketing and Sales, explains the routes the company plans to take to attain this goal.

Abstract

The past year has witnessed the transformation of the Brazilian phosphate fertilizer industry, which has been consolidated under the overall ownership of Vale. The global mining giant began the process by acquiring Fosfertil, which it renamed Vale Fertilizantes, and this in turn became the vehicle that acquired the Brazilian fertilizer assets of Bunge and Mosaic. Vale’s fertilizer assets are supplemented by holdings in other countries, currently Argentina, Canada, Peru and Mozambique.

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Don't miss the bus

Summary

Clearwater 2011 35th Annual International Phosphate Fertilizer & Sulphuric Acid Technology Workshop Preliminary Programme • A practical guide to reducing or eliminating process control ­interactions, by Henri A. (Hank) ­Brittain, Top Control Inc., and Marcos Ortiz, Mosaic Fertilizer LLC • Wireless broadband ethernet technology benefits to the phosphate industry, by Todd Bredbenner, DCR Engineering • How to include the overall output of phosphoric acid evaporator loops while reducing their total cost of ­ownership, Loic Bernard • Alternative energy and fuels, by Eric Coffin, Green Energy Engineering • Utilisation of a pipe reactor for enhanced production of DAP, by Donal Tunks, Jacobs Engineering • Global warming for dummies, by Neil Greenwood • Taking gypsum disposal systems to new heights, by Leif Bouffard, ­Central Engineering, Jim Dougherty, Mosaic Fertilizer LLC • Phosphogypsum transport and ­disposal, by Dr. Anwar E.Z. Wissa.

Abstract

The AIChE Central Florida section will convene the 35th Annual International Phosphate Fertilizer and Sulphuric Acid Technology Conference at its regular venue of the Sheraton Sand Key Resort at Clearwater Beach, Florida. The meeting takes place on Friday, 10 June and Saturday, 11 June, comprising two half-day sessions. Friday’s session will be the sulphuric acid technology workshop while Saturday’s session will examine issues of the greatest interest to the phosphate producers.

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Peak or plateau, which way for phosphate rock production?

Summary

The vital nutrient phosphorus is drawn from resources that are non-renewable. Just how much of that resource remains available to mankind has become the subject of an intense debate. Recently, taking Hubbert's theory of Peak Oil as their template, some have argued that we are reaching a comparable peak for phosphorus as reserves become depleted. This viewpoint has been challenged within the international fertilizer industry. Michael Mew, Director of Fertecon Research Centre Limited, believes that it is time to take a more measured assessment of the outlook for phosphorus. In this review, he examines the implications for phosphate rock production.

Abstract

Hubbert’s Peak Oil theory is more than 60 years old, yet it is still to be shown conclusively to describe the real oil world. Its derivative, Peak Phosphorus, was first coined just four years ago, and yet discussion has already moved on to when the peak will occur, rather than whether the model adequately describes the phosphate industry at all. This review addresses the potential flaws in the model, discussing why, if anything, it is the substitutability of oil within the energy system that is more likely to be the factor implicit in determining  the peak nature of the production curve, rather than the fact that oil itself is a non-renewable resource.

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