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The Spread of Nitrogen Fertilizers

By Gerald Ondrey |

As price margins tighten, ammonia and urea producers are diversifying their products, while new catalysts and process improvements boost capacities and lower energy consumption Since the start of “shale-gas boom” in 2012, the U.S. has been moving toward becoming an exporter of fertilizer after decades of importing most of its fertilizers. New production plants are beginning to come onstream — something the country has not seen for 35 years. The startup of new large facilities in major importing nations, like the U.S., Indonesia and a few in Africa has created tremendous price pressure in the ammonia market in the west, says Viswadeb Ganguly, director of Technology, Ammonia & Syngas, KBR, Inc. (Houston; www.kbr.com). Meanwhile, the Chinese export at a very low price has created the same impact in urea processes in Asia, he says. “With quite a few new plants expected to come onstream in 2017 and 2018, it will take some time for prices to improve significantly.” In the last 2–3 years, the market has been characterized by oversupply of urea and declining nitrogen prices, says Merethe Kjul Hoffmann, technology marketing manager, Haldor Topsoe A/S (Lyngby, Denmark; www.topsoe.com). Producers have reacted by diversifying…
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