Yara says new US ammonia plant on track, but Lifeco problems return

18 July 2014 16:11 Source:ICIS News

LONDON (ICIS)--Norwegian fertilizer major Yara International on Friday confirmed plans for a new world-scale 750,000 tonne/year ammonia plant on the US Gulf Coast in conjunction with Germany's BASF are "progressing very well.”

The head of the Oslo-headquartered company announced during a conference call that the proposed facility at Freeport in Texas remains on track.

"Nothing has been seen that means the project will not go ahead. We have nothing to report [today] other than the project is progressing very well. We expect to announce an update on project discussions in the third or fourth quarter of this year," said Yara’s president and CEO, Jorgen Ole Haslestad. 

"What I can say is that we see significant cost savings because ammonia production will be based on a hydrogen-synthesis process," he added.

Meanwhile, the senior executive has confirmed the Scandinavian fertilizer major will shut down its Yara Pilbara plant in Western Australia next month for four weeks for scheduled maintenance.

The 850,000 tonne/year ammonia facility on the Burrup Peninsula will be taken offline around 20 August to allow a routine turnaround to take place.

The planned shutdown means Yara will be unable to load its usual 60,000-90,000 tonne/month of ammonia in Dampier for delivery to long term customers in southeast Asia, Korea and Taiwan.

Yara has already advised clients the plant will be down for several weeks and the firm recently purchased 25,000 tonnes of Saudi spot ammonia from SABIC at $460/tonne FOB (free on board) for mid-August loading in the Arabian Gulf. The cargo will likely go to Korea.

Also on Friday, Haslestad revealed the only operational urea line at its Lifeco joint venture in Libya was shut down 17 July because of issues with the harbour and feedstock. Lifeco is a joint venture between Yara (which holds a 50% stake) and two Libyan companies, the National Oil Corporation (NOC) and the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), with a 25% stake each.

The Marsa El-Brega plant has been running well below capacity in recent months due to natural gas shortages and civil unrest.

The executive added one of the facility's two ammonia lines remains operational and no timescale is available for the restart of the urea unit.

Yara has recently loaded around 20,000 tonne/month of ammonia from the site for use within its own production systems in northwest Europe.


By Richard Ewing