The virtual Nitrogen + Syngas USA 2021 event held earlier this year was a great opportunity to learn from, and connect with, major producers and licensors in North America. It also provided valuable insights on a range of topics including current challenges in the market, new technologies, OPEX optimization and best practices.
We picked up some key takeaways from attending the event:
Be ready for pricing changes in nitrogen and natural gas
Higher ammonia prices could be coming this year in the western hemisphere. This is due to several factors including a rise in industrial ammonia demand following Covid-related disruption in 2020, low inventories in the U.S. and supply constraints in some countries. Urea prices were supported by strong fertilizer demand in 2020. However, delegates heard several factors could impact on prices in 2021. These include the restart of two Petrobras plants in Brazil, which will cap the growth of imported urea there, and Indian capacity will offset import requirements, loosening the traded market by 4.3 Mt in the next five years.
Natural gas pricing remains the dominant component of ammonia and methanol production costs worldwide. The fall in global oil and gas prices due to the outbreak of the pandemic and the continued growth in the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) market are continuing to break the hold of oil indexation on gas pricing.
Freezing temperatures in Asia and Europe at the beginning of this year contributed to an increase in demand for LNG and a reduction in supply (especially in Australia, Malaysia, Qatar, Norway, Nigeria, and Trinidad and Tobago). This led to higher international natural gas and LNG prices in Asia and Europe, attracting a higher volume of supplies from the United States due to the high profit margins. U.S. LNG exports are likely to set new records in the first quarter of 2021.
The industry is evolving - rapidly
The process and mechanical sessions at Nitrogen + Syngas USA 2021 provided technical insights from production, new plant design, safety, maintenance/revamp, failure analysis, and knowledge in the new technologies, such as the development of green ammonia and the reduction of emissions.
What’s next for synthesis gases and their derivatives?
There was a clear message that demand for green ammonia - produced using renewable energy rather than natural gas – will continue to increase in the years ahead.
Sustainable ammonia production using process improvements with energy efficient hydrogen generation containing a low CO2 footprint is also expected to be a growth area for the industry.
Where does Sandvik fit into the global nitrogen and syngas market?
Sandvik provides special alloys, such as ammonia reformer tubes and pigtails made from Sanicro® 31HT, and composite tubes for syngas coolers (Sandvik HT5/Sanicro® 30). We also offer duplex heat exchanger tubes (3RE60), urea grades (3R60UG, 2RE69, bimetallic and our Safurex family) and nitric acid alloys (2RE10, bimetallic and zirconium).
Our products are currently supporting the nitrogen and syngas industries across the world (including in the production of fertilizers, urea, ammonia, nitric acid and methanol). They do this by offering enhanced mechanical and corrosion properties. This consequently reduces the total costs of new plants by extending their lifetime and optimizing maintenance, production and safety.
Learn how our products could benefit your applications here.
By Luiza Esteves – Technical Marketing Engineer – Sandvik Materials Technology