Fertiliser manufacturer CF Fertilisers has announced a £40 million investment in the Billingham ammonium nitrate (AN) fertiliser manufacturing complex on Teesside. 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the former Grange Farm being chosen by the government to build the UK’s first AN plant, which came on stream in 1923.
CF says the investment is the biggest at the site for 20 years, and follows two successive years of record output from the facility. The work will take two years to compete. It includes a £15.75m upgrade and rationalisation of Billingham’s high voltage electricity distribution network, with new switchgear for the ammonia plant and upgraded ones for the fertiliser production units.
“The new high voltage network will be ‘state of the art’ with a lifespan in excess of 40 years giving us significant power security for future needs and making for more efficient production,” says CF’s Billingham site manager Keith Brudenell.
At the same time, a £15.5m upgrade of the ammonia reforming plant will extend its life by 20 years. “The replacement of the steam reforming equipment and gas transmission piping on the high temperature part of the plant should be completed by 2020,” notes Mr Brudenell. There will be a further £8m expenditure in replacing equipment in one of the acid plants to improve reliability as demand grows.
“Since CF Industries took a 100% holding in the site in 2015, demand has grown considerably and we are now developing the plant to keep pace with this and meet the challenges of the future,” he continues. “We are now the only company manufacturing high quality AN in the UK, with our iconic blue bags a feature on farms up and down the country. All in all, this is a real vote of confidence in the Billingham site and its team, and for industrial chemicals on Teesside in general.”
Mr Brudenell also noted that the company had achieved its best safety record ever in 2017 at Billingham. “At our Billingham and Ince, Cheshire, production facilities we have now recorded a million hours of production accident-free at each site,” he concluded.