Agrium to expand Texas nitrogen plant

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Canadian fertilizer company Agrium Inc said on Tuesday its board of directors has approved an expansion of its nitrogen facility at Borger, Texas, adding to a buildup of North American capacity for the crop nutrient.

The $720 million project will add 610,000 tonnes of urea and 145,000 tonnes of ammonia production capacity.

The nitrogen expansion is the latest in North America to take advantage of low natural gas costs, due to shale rock extraction technology. Natural gas is a key ingredient in production of nitrogen fertilizer.

Other projects include expansion in Louisiana and Iowa by CF Industries Holdings Inc and a new plant in Iowa planned by Orascom Construction Industries SAE.

Agrium, the fourth-largest global producer of nitrogen, scaled back its nitrogen growth plans last June, suspending engineering work on a proposed $3 billion plant in the U.S. Midwest and plans to expand its Redwater, Alberta plant.

The Borger expansion will begin in March and is scheduled for completion in the second half of 2015. During that period, the facility is expected to operate at normal production rates.

Agrium shares rose 0.7 percent in Toronto and 0.5 percent in New York in morning trading, in line with its peers.

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