North Dakota is finally feeling the economic slump associated with the slowdown in the western oil patch, but in Beulah, where coal is the natural resource talk of the town, a new fertilizer plant is built as quickly as the engineers can design it, reports the Bismarck Tribune. Urea pellets will be created for use as fertilizer created from the carbon dioxide and ammonia produced in the liquefaction process used next door at the Basin Electric Cooperatives Synfuels Plant where coal is converted to natural gas.
Fertilizer is a huge business, especially in the United States. Most modern growers use some sort of fertilizer in their fields, and the US is a leader in anhydrous and urea imports, according Dale Johnson, Dakota Gasification Co. plant manager in the Bismarck Tribune. He says that costs and risks associated with imports as well as easier storage is what drives the production and usage of urea.
Urea is the future of fertilizer as growers move away from anhydrous ammonia, which can be dangerous to store, in favor of the safe urea pellets.
North Dakota alone has an estimated demand of 450,000 tons of urea, according to the North Dakota State University Extension. The new Basin Electric plant would produce 380,000 tons meeting 84 percent of the demand.
The plant itself is projected to be up and running in time to meet urea demand in spring of 2017 if the fast track continues as scheduled. Jim Greer, project manager, says “fast means fast,” with engineers working just a few steps ahead of construction. If fact, building began before the engineering was even completed, which takes a lot of coordination.
The final building will also include storage with the capability to store 50 days’ worth of production.
The new plant will be the only urea plant in ND, following two planned but abandoned plants in Grand Forks and Jamestown.