Rentech Nitrogen reveals ammonia line problem, gloomy AS outlook

28 October 2013 15:39  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Rentech Nitrogen Partners' expanded ammonia plant in East Dubuque, Illinois, will be unable to operate at full capacity until early 2014 due to technical problems, the ammonia, urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) solution and ammonium sulphate (AS) manufacturer said on Monday.

In a downbeat market update amid falling AS prices, the company said expansion projects at East Dubuque and Pasadena, Texas, plants were on time and on budget, with ammonia production at the former expected to start as planned in the first week of November.

However, "a routine inspection late last week identified the need to repair the foundation of one of the three existing syngas compressors, taking that compressor out of service," the firm said.

"This unplanned repair will require the ammonia plant to run below the planned post-expansion capacity of 1,100 tonnes/day, at a rate of approximately 790 tonnes/day, until repairs are complete. Since the problem has just been identified, the repair schedule is in development, but is estimated not to exceed 90 days.

Rentech added that the AS unit at its Pasadena facility will undergo two weeks of routine maintenance work in early December to allow the completion of a $3m (€2.16m) expansion project that will boost AS output to 2,100 tonnes/day from the current 1,750 tonnes/day. The company is also investing $3m to "improve on-stream time".

Reflecting on current market conditions, the company added: "AS prices have declined further than expected, and the illiquidity of the market has continued longer than we had expected. Few transactions are taking place in North America, and typically lower-priced export sales are conducted in a small number of large, vessel-sized transactions.

"Buying activity in North America is anticipated to return during the fall season, as is typical for fertilizer products, but visibility into fall pricing is quite limited."

($1 = €0.72)

By: Richard Ewing
+44 208 652 3214

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