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

North American potash: investments galore

Summary

The established North American potash producers enjoy global leadership in terms of capacity. In anticipation of the forecast increase in the demand for potash worldwide, they are investing in new facilities that will enhance their competitiveness in international markets. Potential new entrants also hope to enjoy a share of the business on offer.

Abstract

 IFA has identified more than 150 potash projects being pursued worldwide, with significant new significant new capacity expected to emerge during the next five years in Argentina, Belarus, Brazil and China. The long-established potash producers in North America are also investing in new capacity, helping to raise global potash capacity from 42.7 million t/a K2O in 2010 to 59.6 million t/a K2O by 2015. (Fertilizers and Raw Materials Supply and Global Supply/Demand Balances: 2011-2015, Michel Prud’homme [May 2011].)

Potash capacity in Canada is forecast to increase from 22.2 million t/a in 2007 to 34.1 million t/a by 2012, as each of the leading producers – PotashCorp, Mosaic and Agrium – invests in enhanced facilities. Looking to the longer term, greenfield projects by new entrants and Agrium are expected to add an additional 19.0 million t/a to Canadian potash capacity, raising the country’s potash capabilities to 53.1 million t/a by 2022. (Table 1)

Add to basket


CF Industries steps up the pace

Summary

We profile CF Industries, the US nitrogen and phosphates fertilizer producer which is fast raising its profile in global markets.

Abstract

Based in Deerfield, Illinois, CF Industries celebrates its 65th birthday this year. Whereas most people who reach that milestone age are contemplating a more leisurely outlook in life, CF Industries as a company is speeding up the pace. CF Industries is now the second largest nitrogen producer in the world and ranks as the third largest phosphate producer among the public companies. It has just posted record second-quarter earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of $889.2 million, compared with $392.1 million in the second quarter of 2010. Sales were a record too, at $1.8 billion – an increase of 38% from $1.3 billion in the same quarter last year.

These results are the best possible birthday present – and impressive for a company with humble roots as an agricultural co-operative in the US Midwest heartland. CF Industries was founded as Central Farmers Fertilizer Company in Chicago in 1946. The company first moved into nitrogen fertilizer manufacturing in 1954, when it took a 25% shareholding in a small manufacturing company in Kansas. A move into the phosphate sector followed in 1965, with the construction of the fertilizer manufacturing complex in Central Florida. The company subsequently added nitrogen manufacturing capability in south east Louisiana in 1966 and in Alberta, Canada in 1976 – complexes which continue to thrive today.

Add to basket


Feeco International: more than an equipment company

Summary

We profile one of the leading suppliers of fertilizer granulation and drying technologies.

Abstract

As a pioneer in rotary drying technology, Feeco International was founded in 1951 to supply the fertilizer industry and a variety of companies in the chemical processing, mining, energy and paper sectors with a range of handling and processing equipment that add value to the raw materials and basic products. Feeco’s roots in fertilizers are reflected by the acronym of its name:

s a pioneer in rotary drying technology, Feeco International was founded in 1951 to supply the fertilizer industry and a variety of companies in the chemical processing, mining, energy and paper sectors with a range of handling and processing equipment that add value to the raw materials and basic products. Feeco’s roots in fertilizers are reflected by the acronym of its name: Feeco stands for Fertilizer Engineering and Equipment Company. During the past 60 years, the company has helped solve fertilizer manufacturing problems in more than 700 fertilizer plants around the world.

Feeco’s business today embraces the following core areas:

  • Equipment
  • Processes
  • Testing facilities
  • Service.

Add to basket


Sharing the European safety experience

Summary

As part of its Product Stewardship programme, Fertilizers Europe ensures that safety remains paramount for every member company, each year convening a Safety Seminar where experience and ideas are shared. The 2011 meeting was held in Porsgrunn, Norway between 4-6 May. The key findings are described by Antoine Hoxha, Fertilizer Europe's Director, Technology, Environment and Safety, and Jurga Lenktaityte, Technical and Market Analyst.

Abstract

The member companies of Fertilizers Europe have a long tradition of sharing their experience in safety, notably at the annual Safety Seminar. This year marked the 14th such meeting. It is a major event in the Fertilizers Europe calendar and provides a highly-appreciated platform that has the goal of communicating and promoting the highest standards of safety among all member companies.

This year’s Safety Seminar began on 4 May with a visit to the production facilities of Yara International at Porsgrunn, one of the largest NPK production sites in the world. Participants were welcomed by Tore Jenssen, Vice President HSE at Yara and the plant management team. They visited the top of the tallest NPK prilling tower in the world and then continued with a tour of the handling and storage areas. The upstream facilities and distribution operations were seen during the bus tour of the site.

Add to basket


SQM blazes the speciality trail

Summary

SQM has a strong global presence in a variety of industries through its five business lines: Speciality Plant Nutrition, Potassium, Iodine and Derivatives, Lithium and Derivatives, and Industrial Chemicals. At its plants in northern Chile, SQM pro­cesses the natural resources of caliche ore and salar brines, which provide the raw materials for SQM's diversified product portfolio. Partnerships with other leading speciality players are a further cornerstone of SQM's business strategy, as examined here.

Abstract

The new year of 2011 went off to a flying start for SQM, when on 12 January the Chilean speciality plant nutrition producer and its joint-venture partner, Migao Corporation, celebrated the opening of the SQM Migao potassium nitrate production facility in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China. The new 40,000 t/a potassium facility was inaugurated in a ceremony attended by Patricio Contesse, CEO of SQM and Liu Guocai, CEO of Migao Corporation, together with several senior executives representing the two partner companies.

SQM Migao seeks to increase its fertilizer business and help spread the modernisation of the Chinese agricultural market. The joint venture represents the teaming up of two global leaders in the speciality nutrient sector. SQM is the global leader in producing and marketing speciality plant nutrition products, iodine and lithium, and is one of the key providers of natural salts, with sales in over 100 countries. Migao Corporation is based in China and produces speciality potash-based fertilizers for the Chinese market. Since it was established in 2003, the company has enjoyed a rapid growth in output and profitability. Migao operates fertilizer production plants in several locations in China, selling potassium nitrate and potassium sulphate, as well as such co-products as ammonium chloride and hydrochloric acid. With this pedigree, the SQM Migao partnership promises to be a dynamic one.

Add to basket


Promoting the knowledge to make the rupee go further

Summary

The issue of a widening sulphur nutrient deficit continues to exercise the minds of agricultural experts around the world, and the continuing depletion of reserves of sulphur in soils threatens to limit further advances in agricultural productivity. India faces particularly acute problems in this respect. This has prompted the renowned agronomist Dr. HLS Tandon to seek practical ways of replenishing India's soil sulphur reserves. His new book, Sulphur in Soils, Crops and Fertilisers, promises to lay the foundations for the wider and more knowledgeable use of this vital nutrient.

Abstract

Sulphur in Soils, Crops and Fertilisers – from Research to Practical Application is the fifth book that Dr. HLS Tandon has authored on the subject of sulphur in agriculture and the 48th practical reference book that FDCO has published on plant nutrients, fertilizers and integrated plant nutrient management. It continues FDCO’s quest to provide technically sound and easily understood synopses on plant nutrient sulphur for practical use by all stakeholders.

Dr. Tandon reiterates his belief that sulphur should be recognised as a major plant nutrient in its own right: sulphur deficiency is becoming more critical with each passing year, severely limiting crop yields, produce quality, nutrient use efficiency and economic returns on millions of farms.

Add to basket


Ultra-mega plants – an assessment

Summary

Are production capacities of more than 3,000 t/d feasible in ammonia and 5,000 t/d in urea and phosphate plants?

Abstract

On 24 June 2011, Engro Fertilizers Limited of Pakistan announced the start of commercial production at its new fertilizer facility in Daharki. The plant has the capacity for the production of 745,000 t/a of ammonia and 1.3 million t/a of prilled urea and cost $1.1 billion to build. The ammonia unit employs Haldor Topsøe’s ammonia technology, while Snamprogetti – owned by Saipem S.p.A. – supplied the technology for the urea melt and prilling facilities. With a daily capacity of 3,835 t/d, the Engro Fertilizers’ urea facility is the largest single-train urea plant in the world.

However, Engro Fertilizers will not be holding this Blue Riband of the urea production world for very long. Qatar Fertilizer Co. (QAFCO) is building two ammonia/urea complexes, QAFCO-5 and QAFCO-6, each of which will have the marginally greater capacity of 3,850 t/d granular urea. These plants will likewise use Saipem technology. QAFCO-5 is scheduled to be commissioned at the end of 2011, while fast progress is being made in the construction of the QAFCO-6 facility.

Add to basket


Mega-phosphate plants? Can do!

Summary

Abstract

With the commencement of production at the Ma’aden 4.5 million t/a P2O5 phosphoric acid and the initial 1.2 million t/a DAP plants at Ras Az Zawr, Saudi Arabia, it may be said that the mega-phosphate plant has almost arrived. Scaling up to a 5,000 t/d P2O5 phosphoric acid or DAP plant appears to be readily achievable with existing technology and proven size equipment or with equipment that will be available soon. (Mega-Phosphate – Large-Scale Phosphoric Acid and Granulation Plants, Marten Walters, David Ivell and Joseph Bull, KEMWorks/Jacobs Engineering. Paper presented at Phosphates 2006, Brussels.)

By 2005, phosphoric acid plants capable of producing 3,200 t/d P2O5 were operational, and the steady advance in capacity was achieved essentially by scaling up the existing technology and by seeking an enhanced performance at various stages of the flow chart. In the case of phosphoric acid plants, attention can be focused on the three principal stages of the production process: reaction, filtration and concentration. For the DAP plant, the critical points are the screening/milling function, and the granulation, drying and cooling stages.

Add to basket


Bolivia helps Brazil's nitrogen ambitions

Summary

Brazil's state-owned oil and gas supplier, Petrobras, is spearheading the drive to improve the country's self-sufficiency in nitrogen fertilizers. As part of the Brazilian government's Growth Acceleration Programme (PAC), Petrobras has formulated a Fertilizer Plan, which has the goal of reducing Brazil's dependence on nitrogen fertilizer imports. Natural gas feedstock from Bolivia will play a key role in the fulfilment of this plan.

Abstract

Petrobras announced its Fertilizer Plan in November 2010. This comprises four projects, with an estimated investment cost of $6.5 billion, as follows:

  • An ammonia/urea plant at Três Lagoas, Mato Grasso do Sul state
  • An ammonia plant at Uberaba, Minas Gerais state
  • An ammonium sulphate unit at Laranjeiras, Sergipe state
  • A urea plant at Linhares, Espírito Santo state.
  •  

A notable facet of the Fertilizer Plan is that Petrobras will import much of its natural gas requirements from Bolivia, via the Bolivia-Brazil (GASBOL) pipeline. With a length of 3,150 km, this is the longest natural gas pipeline in South America, connecting Bolivia’s natural gas sources with Brazil’s south eastern states.

Add to basket


Assessing Ma'aden's global impact

Summary

As production of phosphoric acid and DAP gets under way at the Ras Al Khair complex in Saudi Arabia, we assess the likely impact of Ma'aden in the pattern of international trade in phosphates.

Abstract

Ma’aden Phosphate Company (MPC) began trial production of DAP at the site at Ras Al Khair (formerly known as Ras Az Zawr) in Saudi Arabia on 17 June 2011 and is steadily ramping up its operations. Via its SABIC co-parent company, MPC concluded its first major contract deal with Zuari Industries Limited of India, covering 200,000 tonnes at a price of $612/t cfr, negotiations immediately began with potential customers globally for the supply of DAP during the third and fourth quarters of 2011. SABIC has a 30% stake in MPC and is contracted to market 77% of the DAP produced at Ras Al Khair, while Ma’aden will undertake the marketing of the remainder.

SABIC soon reported further sales successes, finalising a contract for 400,000 tonnes of DAP for delivery to Indian Potash Limited and the IFFCO co-operative between August 2011 and March 2012 at a similar price to the Zuari deal. This agreement was announced at a time when MPC confirmed that production trials were proceeding on schedule. It is clear that Ma’aden is set to make an early impact on global DAP sales.

Add to basket


Potasio Rio Colorado evades a spot of turbulence

Summary

We examine the progress of the Potasio Rio Colorado project in Mendoza province, Argentina. We also profile other potash projects in the country.

Abstract

The efforts of the Brazilian mining major Vale to fast-track its Potasio Rio Colorado potash project in Mendoza province, Argentina, received several setbacks during the past few months, leading at one point to a suspension of activities at the development. However, Vale now believes that these difficulties have been resolved and work has duly resumed.

In early May 2011, the government of Mendoza province temporarily suspended Vale’s implementation of the project. The Provincial Secretary for Environmental Affairs, Paulo Gudiño, said that Vale had failed to comply with the project implementation plan, especially with the terms established in the Social-Environmental Impact Agreement, whereby 75% of the employees for the mine would be recruited locally and preference would be given to local suppliers. (Fertilizer Week, 24 June 2011)

Add to basket