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Vietnam plans to expand urea production

Summary

Plans to develop Vietnam's offshore gas reserves to turn the country into a major producer of ammonia and urea have had a long and bumpy history. However, the first of these is now up and running and three more are now projected to follow. David Hayes reports.

Abstract

Vietnam has transformed itself over the past two decades from a poor communist state which needed to import food into one of the world’s largest rice producers and a vibrant south-east Asian economy which has joined the World Trade Organisation and which aims to become a mature economy within 15 years. Part of the key to this is development of the country’s agricultural sector, and the key in turn to that is domestic urea production based on Vietnam’s natural gas reserves.

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Urea vs UAN

Summary

Ian Welch of PCS Nitrogen Trinidad looks at the relative merits of choosing solid urea or urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) solutions.

Abstract

Urea is the dominant nitrogen fertilizer in use in the world today, especially popular in Asia. However, in some intensively farmed industrialised regions such as the US and Europe, liquid fertilizers such as urea ammonium nitrate are also popular. This article looks at some of the issues, agronomic and economic, shaping the nitrogen market.

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Striving for excellence

Summary

Catalyst suppliers are continuously working towards developing new and improved catalysts. Leading syngas catalyst suppliers Alvigo, BASF, Johnson Matthey, Sd-Chemie and Topse report on their latest developments and range of catalysts for the production of synthesis gas.

Abstract

Synthesis gas, primarily a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide (syngas), is the starting material for the manufacture of ammonia and its derivatives, methanol, as well as for other oxo-synthesis processes. It is a source of carbon monoxide in the manufacture of chemicals such as acetic acid and acrylates, and a source of hydrogen for hydrocracking, hydrotreating, and hydrode­sulphurisation in petroleum refining.

The production of synthesis gas has become something of a hot topic in the industries over the past years. New technologies are changing the baseline economics of syngas production, making it an attractive feedstock for chemical synthesis and for the production of super-clean liquid fuels.

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Changing times

Summary

Maturing economies and gradually spreading networks of pipelines are changing the gas market in southeast Asia, and with it the nature of downstream gas-based industries. However, small islands of stranded gas still provide the possibility of new production in the region.

Abstract

Southeast Asia is blessed with significant reserves of natural gas. Because of the region’s geography; split up into archipelagos of islands, it has in the past proved expensive and difficult to connect these gas sources by pipeline to centres of population. Consequently much of the natural gas has been ‘stranded’, and therefore used in major liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects or transformed into syngas-based chemicals such as methanol, ammonia or urea which can be more readily transported. For this reason southeast Asia has a major concentration of syngas-based industry.

However, rapid industrialisation and increasing populations are leading to greater demands for power production, and the power industry is driving the connection of the region via pipeline, especially in Indonesia, the most populous state.

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When the gas runs out

Summary

High natural gas prices in major chemical markets have encouraged the industry to look again at alternative feedstocks for ammonia, methanol, hydrogen and F-T liquids production. But there are technical and economic challenges for any feedstock conversion project.

Abstract

Although ammonia production was initially based on coal, natural gas has been the basis of most syngas generation since the major expansion in oil and gas production in the middle of the 20th century, since it involved both simpler (and therefore less capital intensive) plants, and was cheaper overall. However, the high price of natural gas in some parts of the world close to the main demand areas for chemicals has led to a flight of primary syngas-based capacity to remote ‘stranded’ gas locations in the Middle East, Carib­bean, South America, and Central and Southeast Asia. This has left many chemical producers in places such as North America and Western Europe with large, integrated chemical complexes which are dependent on imports of methanol, ammonia etc. The relative cheapness of some alternative feedstocks which can be found closer to home has led to a fresh look at these sources, and in some cases plans for conversion of syngas-based plants from gas to other feedstocks.

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