Orascom Construction Industries (OCI) announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, OCI Nitrogen (Netherlands), has acquired an integrated ammonia-methanol plant located in Beaumont, Texas, on the Gulf Coast of the United States. OCI acquired the plant through a joint venture with Janus Methanol AG (Janus), named Pandora Methanol LLC, in which OCI holds 50 percent plus 1 share.
The plant has a production capacity of 250,000 tons of ammonia and 750,000 tons of methanol per annum. In addition, the plant has an ammonia tank with a capacity of 18,000 tons and two methanol storage tanks with a capacity of 22,000 tons each. The plant has pipeline connections to adjacent customers and port access with dedicated methanol and ammonia import/export jetties and will ship both products along the Gulf Coast.
The integrated methanol-ammonia facility was started up in the late 1960's. The methanol unit was modernized in the early 1980's using Lurgi GmbH's Low Pressure Methanol technology and a new ammonia line was started up in 2000 based on the Haldor Topsoe technology. The last
owner of the plant, the Eastman Chemical Company (Eastman), took over the plant from Terra Industries in 2007 after it had been idle since 2004 when US-based natural gas prices topped US$ 12 per mmBtu.
The joint venture subsequently acquired the plant from Eastman and OCI Nitrogen and Janus will jointly rehabilitate and operate the integrated methanol-ammonia facility. The rehabilitation engineering and the acquisition cost and capital expenditures related to inspecting, repairing and updating the plant's operating systems and environmental controls will amount to approximately US$ 65 million by year end. Ammonia production is expected to commence in the fourth quarter of 2011 and methanol production is targeted to start in 2012. The joint venture is currently also studying the possibility of increasing both production and storage tank capacity on-site.
Orascom Construction Industries Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Nassef Sawiris commented, "our acquisition of this integrated ammonia-methanol facility in the U.S. provides us with a new production platform in a key market which has already received product from the
Fertilizer Group in the past. The facilities of the joint venture will provide the Group with the option to serve our customers in the U.S. from our other production facilities worldwide. We are impressed with the entrepreneurial initiatives, skills and expertise of our partner Janus
Methanol AG and look forward to working together in the future. We believe that upon startup, this business will generate exceptional returns to shareholders."