The EPC firm working on OCI's world-scale nitrogen complex in Iowa was supposed to hand over the keys to the plant two years ago. While IFCo is now operating and managing the site, the EPC firm is still there, finishing up, and the formal hand-over ("project acceptance") hasn't happened ... despite the fact that OCI held a ribbon-cutting ceremony back in April.
Blame the opossum, who knocked out the power for a while.
"IFC was ready to make it official. The company was at 100 percent operation. It was time for the ribbon cutting."
Well, yes and no.
Yes, Iowa Fertilizer Company held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate its greenfield at Wever. No, Wever is hardly 100% complete: the ammonia plant is operational, but the downstream plants may be months away.
Over the last few weeks, Iowa Fertilizer Company and its parent, OCI NV, have been busy with the commissioning phase of their major greenfield at Wever, IA. However, they've also been restructuring bond payments, which was necessary "to ensure the successful completion of construction and first year of operations."
In the process, we've seen the bond rating downgraded, the IRS launch an examination, disclosures of project costs rising further, and hints at future mergers & acquisitions.
OCI has successfully refinanced the project. They hope to start producing ammonia soon but, if history is any guide, defining "soon" may be difficult.
CF Industries terminated its proposed merger with OCI this morning.
"The Treasury announcement on April 4, 2016 materially reduced the structural synergies of the combination. Since that time, both companies have worked together collaboratively ... However, the companies were unable to identify an alternative acceptable to both parties and, therefore, agreed to terminate the combination."
There's plenty of new news about OCI's Iowa Fertilizer Company and its world-scale greenfield nitrogen plant at Wever, IA.
In the last two weeks, we've had earnings reports both from OCI and from the project's EPC contractor, Orascom, which is OCI's sister company. Plus, we had a response and countersuit in the ongoing lawsuit between Orascom and one of the project's subcontractors.
Updates came in last week from the various entities that I call Orascom, including OCI Partners, with its expansion underway at Beaumont, TX, and OCI NV, which owns the Iowa Fertilizer Company greenfield at Wever, IA.
The Beaumont plant's expansion has been pushed back to 2015: four weeks of turnaround work will now begin in January, "in order to avoid the holiday season," and other more technical reasons. The debottlenecking project's cost has also ticked up by another $20 million. Members will find an updated project summary in my Research Note.
The Wever greenfield is still on schedule for start-up at the end of 2015, but costs have risen by $100 million to a new total of $1.9 billion. Again, a full project summary is available for Members in my Research Note.
SUMMARY STATUS: Operational
OCI Partners restarted the Beaumont methanol-ammonia plant at the end of 2011, and completed a debottlenecking project in 2015 with minor delays and cost over-runs. Since then, the ammonia plant has been producing at record levels, with output slightly more than 100% capacity in 2016. In December 2016, Dutch majority owner OCI NV launched an all-stock buyout offer to acquire the remaining ~20% of OCI Partners, but this was shelved in April 2017 and the offer terminated.
SUMMARY STATUS: Operational
OCI announced the start-up of the ammonia plant in April 2017 but, while the site is mechanically complete and all the downstream plants are capable of production above nameplate capacity, the ammonia plant is having trouble ramping up and the EPC firm has yet to finish testing and project hand-over. Despite OCI's first-mover advantage, the Wever plant is now two years delayed and more than a billion dollars over budget. OCI wanted to do mergers and acquisitions but didn't have much success: it failed to merge with CF Industries in 2016 and failed to buy out its subsidiary, OCI Partners, in 2017.