CHS Inc., the nation's largest farmer-owned cooperative, launched a proposal Wednesday to build a $1.1-1.4 billion nitrogen fertilizer manufacturing plant in North Dakota that would take advantage of natural gas feedstock to provide U.S. and Canadian farmers with enhanced supplies of crop nutrients.

Preliminary plans call for a facility able to produce 2,200 tons of ammonia daily that would be distributed as anhydrous ammonia, urea and liquid fertilizer to farm supply retailers and farmers in the Dakotas and parts of Minnesota, Montana and Canada.

The project would be the largest single private investment ever in North Dakota, according to Gov. Jack Dalrymple.The proposed plant on 200 acres in Spiritwood, ND, could employ 100-150 people.

This is almost a duplicate of another project announced in the past week to be built in Iowa. In the announcement, Orascom Construction Industries, Egypt's largest company, said it had agreed to make the largest single investment ever in the state of Iowa -- $1.4 billion -- to build a nitrogen fertilizer plant that also would tap domestic natural gas supplies (see Daily GPI, Sept. 7).

Dalrymple joined CHS executives in making the announcement.

"This potential for this type of project is great news for our farmers and for the entire state of North Dakota," Dalrymple said. "The CHS plant will help us further reduce the flaring of natural gas in western North Dakota and it will provide our farmers with a reliable supply of locally produced fertilizers in place of imports from foreign countries. We will continue working to add value to our energy resources and to develop more locally produced agricultural inputs for North Dakota farmers."

CHS is investing $10 million in the first feasibility phase, and if a preliminary front-end engineering and design study proves successful, tentative start-up could be in the second half of 2016.

"By pursuing this project, CHS would be making a significant, strategic investment that ensures consistent, domestic nitrogen fertilizer supply for our farmer-owners," said CHS CEO Carl Casale. He noted that CHS imports fertilizer products from 19 countries and said "developing additional domestic crop nutrients sources closer to our customers is critical to meeting increasing demand, improving our logistical and distribution expertise, and adding value for the farmers who count on us."

According to Casale, CHS is in discussions with Great River Energy and the Jamestown Stutsman Development Corp. (JSDC), which together own the Spiritwood property, to formalize project agreements related to the land and services to be provided by the power generation cooperative and JSDC.

CHS plans to continue to work with Dalrymple's office, the North Dakota Department of Commerce, JSDC, Jamestown, ND, and Stutsman County officials, the North Dakota Farmers Union and Great River Energy to move the project forward. In addition, CHS has contracted with engineering firms CH2M Hill of Houston, and Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson of Bismarck, ND, on site planning and related business and construction details.

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