Domestic nitrogen production is vital to the future of American agriculture. Supply constraints in Trinidad & Tobago, Middle Eastern unrest, FSU natgas curtailments and a Corn Belt that demands anhydrous ammonia along with a host of other supply/demand factors suggest domestic nitrogen -- anhydrous in particular -- could be a goldmine. The United States relies on imports to fill over half of its N needs each year, but as global competition for nutrient heats up, U.S. and Canadian growers will find themselves in an increasingly competitive supply environment.
New nitrogen production is already planned in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and North Dakota, and a number of brownfield expansions are also underway. Word now comes from Grand Forks, North Dakota that Northern Plains Nitrogen (NPN) intends to construct a greenfield nitrogen production facility that will add anhydrous, urea and UAN production capacity to the national supply.
NPN CEO Don Pottinger notes, “This green-field world-scale production facility will be among the safest, most efficient and environmentally compliant ever constructed. By using modern technology which, among other benefits, reduces our carbon footprint, the NPN facility is taking shape to be a very exciting and worthwhile undertaking.”
NPN expects to produce 2,200 tons per day of ammonia and will process that into anhydrous ammonia, urea and UAN solutions at a total construction cost of $1.5 billion. During the height of the construction phase, the project will employ up to 2,000 workers and upon completion, the plant will employ roughly 160 full-time skilled workers.
A study funded by the Corn Grower’s Organizations of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota, the Manitoba Canola Growers Association, and the North Dakota Soybean Council, identified key market conditions such as the abundance of natural gas reserves in the area, along with access to rail, natgas pipelines and grey water from the Grand Forks waste water treatment facility that would provide a reliable regional supply of fertilizer and reduce dependence on imports.
Expansions and greenfield projects will add up to over 6 million tons of increased annual production capacity, all set to come online in the next few years. The NPN project is expected to be ready to provide nitrogen for the 2017 crop, and growers in the surrounding states and Canadian provinces will be glad it is there.