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Basin's urea production facility reaches milestone

Friday, May 25, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Shari Wormwood
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(From left) BNSF Railway Conductor Dan Bitner and Bruce Banks,
Dakota Gas fertilizer shift supervisor, shake hands at the exchange
of the first unit train carrying urea fertilizer from the urea production facility.


April 17, 2018 (Bismarck, ND.) — The first unit train carrying urea fertilizer pulled away from Dakota Gasification Company’s Great Plains Synfuels Plant at about 10 p.m. April 5, marking another significant milestone regarding the new urea production facility.


Urea is one of 12 products and one of three fertilizers produced at the Synfuels Plant. The 65-railcar unit train carried 6,523 tons of urea, or about 100 tons per rail car.

Spencer Wagner, Dakota Gas fertilizer production executive sales account manager, said unit trains will generally move throughout the year to the large terminals around the state. “Our heaviest unit train traffic is expected to be in the winter and spring when our customers will need to get product in place for farmers,” he said. “There are several unit-train capable facilities in North Dakota that will be potential locations where we will sell urea unit trains.” Wagner said the current advantage of moving urea by train includes lower freight costs. “It is a cost-effective way to move a lot of product fast,” he said. “It is a quick way to fill up storage facilities across the region, allowing farmers quick access to product when they are ready to apply it.”


Urea is a dry, granular fertilizer commonly used in agricultural applications, and has the highest nitrogen content of all solid fertilizers. The facility produced urea for the first time Jan. 19. Employees are currently working toward the goal of producing up to 1,100 tons of product per day.


The plant has the ability to shift a portion of the urea production to produce diesel exhaust fluid, used to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides from diesel engines. The first batch of diesel exhaust fluid was produced in April. Additionally, the new facility has the capability of producing liquefied carbon dioxide, which is expected to be used in the oil production industry.


Construction on the project started in July 2014. About 40 permanent employees were added to operate the new facility. The target market area for urea will be about a 250-mile radius from the Synfuels Plant, with current total demand in the region (North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana) about 2.8 million short tons per year. The Synfuels Plant’s production will fulfill about 15 percent of that demand.

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