Major expansion at Geismar

PotashCorp is planning a significant ammonia expansion at its Geismar nitrogen plant.

Although the company has made no announcements, the expansion project has already had its air permits approved by Louisiana DEQ.

Company reps tell me that the project is “in the preliminary planning stage only at this point,” and has yet to receive the final investment decision.

Nevertheless, this new expansion is perfectly in line with the rhetoric coming from management over the last few quarters. In its 2014 Annual Integrated Report, PotashCorp describes its nitrogen segment “growth initiatives” like this:

“Based on our assessment of the nitrogen business, we expect the US will remain in a favorable cost position over the coming years, and this nutrient will continue to be a key contributor to our earnings. Our focus is on maximizing the reliability of our operations, successfully bringing our Lima expansion online and working to reduce the impact from natural gas-related curtailments in Trinidad. Additionally, our team continues to explore other lower-cost, quick-payback US brownfield opportunities that can deliver high rates of return for our shareholders.” (the emphasis is mine)

During the company’s Q4 2014 earnings call, CEO Jochen Tilk said:

“When I talked about nitrogen, I mentioned that we look at opportunities … that provide superior return to shareholders and we’ve looked at a number of those opportunities. So some of them have been implemented. Lima is an example. But we have others. They’re relatively small by capital, they have good returns …”

Full details of the planned ammonia expansion, as well as expansions on the urea and nitric acid lines, is in my research note for Geismar.

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