Alaska to mull restart permits for Agrium nitrogen plant in 2014

13 December 2013 22:07 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Alaskan regulators plan to make a decision in late 2014 regarding Agrium's environmental permits for a nitrogen plant, which the company may restart, state officials said on Friday.

Agrium idled the plant in 2007 because of a shortage of natural gas.

The Canadian fertilizer producer in October submitted to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) an application for a permit for Prevention of Significant Determination. Agrium has not decided if it will restart the facility. However, it had taken the action in order to be prepared if it elected to go forward.

The Kenai nitrogen plant is in Nikiski, Alaska. Chief Operating Officer Chuck Magro said that a decision regarding the plant will be forthcoming within the next year.

A review of the facility was conducted this past summer as company officials said that overall market conditions had raised the possibility of resuming production.

DEC officials said Agrium has submitted the necessary applications for restarting the ammonia and urea plant, but due to the fact that it was permanently shut down, the restart will be permitted as a new facility.

The DEC will require preconstruction monitoring data before a permit can be issued. Officials said Agrium is collecting that data and a decision should be issued no later than the autumn.

Agrium bought the plant in 2000 from Union Oil. During its operation, the plant was the company’s largest facility. It had a listed production capacity of 1.25m tonnes/year and primarily sold to overseas buyers.

Current limitations with the existing natural gas supply in the area is the primary obstacle in restarting the facility, but Agrium has engaged in discussions with local providers to determine if that issue could be resolved in the future. Agrium officials said they will likely initiate further engineering reviews in the spring.

By Mark Milam