AFPM ’13: Shale gas to steer US into ammonia exports

26 March 2013 17:15  [Source: ICIS news]

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (ICIS)--The availability of cheap feedstock caused by the shale gas revolution will steer the US into a position of being a net exporter of ammonia, The Fertilizer Institute president Ford West said on Tuesday.

"Clearly we are having a renaissance," West told delegates to the International Petrochemical Conference (IPC), noting that 70% to 90% of the cost of ammonia production reflects the cost of natural gas.

Construction of the last US ammonia plant to be built took place in 1967, West said.

There are now 26 companies engaged with a total of 38 ammonia projects in the US, he said. Some are so-called brownfield investments in existing infrastructure, while others are new plants altogether.

The US is currently importing around 8m tonnes/year of ammonia, and it is the world's third-biggest fertilizer market after China and India.

If the US adds 3m-4m tonnes of new ammonia capacity, that would redraw the current global trade flows, West noted.

Even if only a third of the US projects are actually completed, that would be enough to swing the country to a net exporting position, he said.

Hosted by the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), the IPC continues through Tuesday.

By: Stephen Burns
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