By Ben DuBose
HOUSTON -- If the trend of petrochemical
ethane continues, the financial outlook for ammonia
production from off-gases will be significantly improved, an
executive with Kinetics Process Improvements (KPI) said on
V.K. Arora, director of process and operations at KPI, said
the dynamics of current feedstock
trends have opened up
large volumes of hydrogen-rich streams, which in turn could
drive future development within the ammonia industry.
It provides ample opportunities to exploit low-cost
ammonia production, said Arora, who spoke in Thursday
mornings opening session at the GTL Technology
With current and expected future ammonia pricing, the
returns are attractive in the US, he added.
Several big project
s are being seriously
Today, those producers cracking ethane are really
enjoying the wave with huge profits, Arora said, noting
that producers are making almost $900/ton on a gross basis.
Further down the chain, ammonia prices are currently above
$500/ton, and are expected to remain around that level for
the foreseeable future, he noted. From an economic
standpoint, that would make ammonia project
But it doesnt come without risk, he warned.
If ethane is the driver for cracking today, tomorrow if
there is better pricing for propylene or C4, they might want
to switch feed into that, Arora said. And that
would definitely impact the hydrogen production and ammonia
Other challenges for ammonia leaders include sourcing off
gases, an inherent interdependence with a source plant, and
the availability of pipeline nitrogen or oxygen at a
competitive price, Arora said.
Viability depends on factors including location, volume
and long-term availability, and pricing trends, he
said. But in the US today, it definitely looks pretty
The annual GTL Technology Forum continues through
Thursday in West Houston.