Tag: US Nitrogen

Ammonia prices are low (so start building your ammonia plant now)

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In 2012, when US Nitrogen broke ground on its new plant in Tennessee, the resurgence of the North American nitrogen industry was just beginning. Ammonia sold at high prices but, thanks to the shale gas revolution, the natural gas feedstock was cheap. As a result, profit margins were high and forecasts were rosy.

Now, it's different. Ammonia and its derivatives don't command high prices, which makes it a poor time to begin operating an expensive new plant - but those same low prices might make this a good time to begin construction.

Recent news regarding both completed and future projects illustrate the sometimes painful relationship between product pricing in a cyclical industry and the timing of investment decisions.

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US Nitrogen finally at full capacity

Five years after breaking ground, and almost three years behind schedule, US Nitrogen's ammonium nitrate plant in Tennessee has finally reached "full production capacity."

This project has been so fraught with problems - permitting, compliance, engineering design, construction, community acceptance, health and safety - that it wasn't always obvious whether the plant would ever be fully operational. Even now, a raft of legal challenges remain unresolved.

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US Nitrogen shut down “under federal and state investigation”

The grand SNAFU named US Nitrogen appears to have come to a temporary pause.

Despite starting up all the units over the last few months - nitric acid, ammonium nitrate, ammonia - the regulatory teams at state and federal levels overseeing US Nitrogen now appear to have come in and closed the site down, until they can enforce environmental and safety standards.

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US Nitrogen start up, in violation

US Nitrogen hasn't publicly announced that its new ANSOL plant is operational, yet, but it has advised regulators that the plants have started up. Its reps are telling the local press that it will be operational by "the end of summer."

In the meantime, the team is rectifying a newly-identified spate of permit violations and deficiencies - which is a little awkward, because regulators are presently considering its permit renewals, which met with great resistance from the local community during the public comment period.

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US Nitrogen lawsuit describes problems during construction

Austin Powder's new $225+ million ammonium nitrate plant was supposed to begin operations in March 2014. Now, more than two years late, the US Nitrogen plant at Greeneville, TN, is still in start-up mode.

Yes, there has been a lot of local opposition. Yes, permit revisions and all the appeals have slowed progress. But there were also technical, engineering causes for the ongoing delays.

US Nitrogen has just made some of these problems public.

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2016 in preview: US ammonia capacity to increase by a third

This will be a transformative year for the ammonia industry. Four world-scale ammonia plants are scheduled to begin production, as well as three smaller plants, a couple of expansions, and a "clean coal" behemoth.

If all these projects start up successfully this year, they will add more than five million tons of ammonia capacity.

The new projects scheduled for 2016 will increase North American capacity by more than a quarter - and, because only one of these projects is in Canada, will increase US capacity by more than a third.

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2015 in review: start-ups and cancellations, but mainly delays

Nine ammonia projects were supposed to start up in 2015. Two succeeded.

OCI's debottleneck at Beaumont, TX, came on-stream in April 2015, and PotashCorp completed its expansion at Lima, OH, in October 2015.

So: in 2015, less than 200,000 mtpy of new ammonia capacity came on-stream.

Of the seven other projects slated for 2015, two were cancelled and the rest have been pushed into 2016.

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Greenfield progress in Tennessee, Indiana, and Illinois (all about water)

Summary of recent progress at greenfield sites, part two.

Cronus Chemicals – getting its ducks in a row

There’s still no confirmed location for the proposed $1.2 billion Project Cronus greenfield – it could be Illinois or Iowa – but new records shed light on a few details. Read more