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Published October 15, 2012, 10:25 AM

Planning for the plant

CHS, the largest cooperative in the U.S., recently announced plans to build a nitrogen fertilizer manufacturing plant in Spiritwood, N.D. North Dakota Farmers Union was a driving force behind this announcement.

By: North Dakota Farmers Union, Agweek

JAMESTOWN, N.D. — North Dakota farmers and ranchers are busy this time of year, and throughout the state, and cooperatives are working hard to meet their needs. North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple recently signed a proclamation deeming October as “Co-op Month,” and we should all take time to salute our local co-ops.

CHS, the largest cooperative in the U.S., recently announced plans to build a nitrogen fertilizer manufacturing plant in Spiritwood, N.D. North Dakota Farmers Union was a driving force behind this announcement. NDFU began working on the concept of a nitrogen fertilizer plant more than two years ago, when we commissioned the market study, feasibility study and a draft business plan. We invested more than $500,000 to help move this project forward. We also met with co-op managers and directors to refine the objectives of this major investment.

During that period, various partners were approached. But ultimately, the strong financial resources, common membership base, distribution network and strong cooperative relationships were the reason this project came together in partnership with CHS. We expect that positive projected returns on cooperative investment will ultimately be returned to local cooperatives and individual members as patronage dividends, and will add to the hundreds of millions of dollars already being returned to the countryside.

The new plant will be built adjacent to the Great River Energy power plant, taking advantage of natural gas pipelines, available water, mainline rail and good interstate highway access. This will be the largest single investment ever made by CHS in its long history, and will be the largest single private construction project in North Dakota history.

This plant will utilize the growing supply of natural gas being produced in North Dakota, and ultimately will prevent 73 million cubic feet of natural gas from being flared off daily, produced by growing oil and gas production.

When completed after about four years of construction, this plant will produce 2,200 tons daily of anhydrous ammonia, some of which will be sold as anhydrous ammonia, granular urea and liquid UAN. It will provide an increased and much more reliable source of all forms of nitrogen fertilizer for our state and regional markets. Farmers and ranchers will appreciate a much more stable supply of nitrogen products.

While there will be several months of front-end engineering design (pre-FEED and FEED, in engineers’ terms), it is important to note that this plant will be built barring any site restrictions, and is well beyond feasibility studies. Construction should begin next spring and permitting and other issues will be ongoing.

Ultimately, this project can be a winner for farmers, cooperatives, and the region’s economy. It will utilize the increasing amount of energy resources coming from the Bakken, provide strong economic development for the state and region, provide a stable supply of nitrogen not subject to imports and unreliable transportation from long distances and strengthen our agricultural economy for many years.

North Dakota Farmers Union will continue to work on the progress of this nitrogen fertilizer project and is proud to have played a vital role in making it a reality.

Editor’s Note: North Dakota Farmers Union is headquartered in Jamestown.

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