A proposal to build a $1 billion plant to make fertilizer from natural gas produced in the Bakken oil field in North Dakota is moving ahead.
A feasibility study has been done and the fertilizer plant project is moving on to the business planning stage, according to a press release from the North Dakota Corn Growers Association.
The project could solve a problem for North Dakota’s two major industries -- agriculture and energy.
On the ag side, farmers have had problems getting fertilizer. They are at the tail end of a long distribution line, which is increasingly prone to interruptions. Most of the nitrogen used in the Upper Midwest is imported from foreign countries and it takes a long time to get here. For urea from the Middle East, for example, it’s a 77-day trip, says Tom Lilja, North Dakota Corn Growers Association executive director.
On the energy side, oil drillers are flaring natural gas that comes out of their wells because there’s no pipeline to collect and move it. The gas ends up being wasted.
The fertilizer plant developers are planning to open investment in the plant to farmers. The timetable calls for information to go out to farmers perhaps as early as February next year.