ENID, Okla. —
Koch Nitrogen has announced a $1 billion plan to increase fertilizer production in Enid.
The proposal, which also would revamp existing production processes, will increase fertilizer production by more than 1 million tons per year.
Starting in late 2014, the Wichita-based company will begin construction on a urea fertilizer plant at its Enid facility, located east of the city. It’s expected to be operational in 2016.
“The investment we are making through Koch Nitrogen underscores our confidence in the future of our overall fertilizer business and our commitment to customers for the long-term,” said Koch President David Robertson. “In addition to the significant increase in capacity, this investment will serve to improve our operational efficiency and competitive position in North America.”
City Manager Eric Benson said Koch’s announcement means Enid will become the “fertilizer and urea capital of the world.”
Benson also said Koch has plans to reduce the amount of potable, or drinking, water it uses in producing fertilizer. Koch currently uses about 6 million gallons of drinkable water per day. If proposals to instead use the city’s wastewater go forward, it would only purchase less than a million gallons.
“That not only frees up a tremendous amount of potable water for our use, but it also allays our pressing need to go find an ever-increasing source of water,” Benson said Wednesday after Koch’s announcement. “The big deal for us is being able to give them a product that we don’t use and eliminate their dependence on a critical service issue for us — fresh water. I can’t praise Koch enough on the way that they’ve approached this issue.”
The city already has pipes in place to pump wastewater, which is known as gray water, to the plant. Koch would be responsible for any treatment and disposal.
“Really, all we have to provide them is our gray water. And I have proposed to them that we would provide it for free,” Benson said.
Urea fertilizer is considered a successor to the more volatile ammonium nitrate, which has been blamed for industrial catastrophes and terrorist bombings. According to the University of Minnesota, urea is not combustible or flammable.
Benson said there is a great difference between the type of fertilizer stored in the West, Texas, facility and in Enid. A fire and explosion in an ammonium nitrate storage facility in West killed 15 people last month.
“Look at it this way,” Benson said. “They were making gasoline. Our guys are making cotton candy.”
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin commended Koch, the city of Enid and Garfield County for their public-private cooperation.
“This substantial investment in Enid by Koch Nitrogen to build a new ultra-modern fertilizer production plant is further proof that our commitment to keeping business taxes low and regulations reasonable is paying dividends in the form of quality jobs for our state,” she said in a prepared statement.
Koch is planning to hire Black & Veatch, KBR and Stamicarbon to complete the project. Officials are expecting up to 800 new construction jobs and 20 to 30 new permanent employees for the plant.
The Koch Nitrogen facility in Enid is one of the largest fertilizer production plants in North America, producing ammonia, liquid fertilizer and granular urea. It was built in 1974 and purchased by Koch Nitrogen in 2003. The site employs 143 people in the fields of engineering, operations and maintenance, with an annual payroll of nearly $14 million. According to company documents, Koch Nitrogen has invested more than $100 million into the Enid facility over the past five years, including the construction of a 10,000-square-foot control facility in 2011.