CF Industries switches on new plant

Expansion took four years, cost $2 billion

-Submitted photo Steam rises from nitrogen fertilizer manufacturing plants at CF Industries’ Port Neal complex. Facilities included in the expansion are in the upper right half of this photo.

SIOUX CITY — A towering column of steam fanned by cold February temperatures punctuates CF Industries’ complex west of Interstate 29 and a few miles south of Sergeant Bluff.

The sight speaks to the operation of CF Industries’ new approximately $2 billion expansion, a project heralded as the largest capital investment in Iowa’s history when it was announced in late 2012.

During the past four years the expansion has been an economic boon within the Siouxland area as an estimated 5,000 construction workers from throughout the United States arrived to work on the project.

Civic leaders, including Chris McGowan, president of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce, have responded enthusiastically to the project.

“Initially seen as an estimated $1.7 billion investment and a peak of 2,000 construction employees, we saw these figures climb to an investment of approximately $2 billion with close to 5,000 construction workers at the work site until construction was completed,” McGowan said. “These employees, what with housing and day-to-day spending for themselves and frequently families, were a plus for all of us here in the area.”

-Submitted photo A truck is loaded with granular urea from CF Industries’ new facilities at its Port Neal Nitrogen Complex.

The positive economic impact will continue with the spending from wages of more than 100 new full-time positions on the CF staff and an estimated 700 indirect jobs in related industries.

Woodbury County will realize higher property tax revenues as a result of the expansion, and this is likely to lead to lower property taxes for residents county-wide.

McGowan said that the United States relies on imports to meet domestic fertilizer needs, according to CF spokespersons.

The added CF production will largely be used by farmers in the immediate region.

A Dec. 28, 2016, press release issued by CF Industries Holding, Inc. reported the new ammonia and urea plants at the company’s Port Neal nitrogen complex “have been successfully commissioned and started-up, marking the completion of the company’s capacity expansion projects.”

-Submitted photo The expansion is pictured as it was under construction.

“CF’s capacity expansion projects are complete,” Tony Will, president and chief executive officer of CF Industries Holdings, Inc., said. “With projected returns significantly above our cost of capital, we have built the foundation for CF’s growth and greatly increased our cash generation capability.”

The release reported that the Port Neal ammonia plant, which began production in late November, has operated at approximately its nameplate capacity of 2,425 tons per day. It went on to say that the company’s urea plant, which was commissioned in early December, “has produced on specification granular urea.”

Total annual gross ammonia capacity at Port Neal is now 1.2 million tons, up from a previous 380,000 tons. The output from the new ammonia plant will largely be upgraded to granular urea, according to the release.

The total urea sold as a finished product from the Port Neal operation is now 1.4 million tons, up from a previous 50,000. Total annual urea ammonium nitrate capacity remains largely unchanged at 800,000 tons, the release said.

CF Industries Holdings Inc., headquartered in Deerfield, Illinois, through its subsidiaries, is a global leader in the manufacturing and distribution of nitrogen products, serving both agricultural and industrial customers.

The company has nitrogen manufacturing complexes in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States with distribution of plant nutrients through a system of terminals, warehouses and associated transportation equipment located primarily in the Midwest United States.

Its ownership includes a 50 percent interest in an ammonia facility in The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.