MARK BROUWER - Owner of Ureaknowhow.com
UreaKnowHow.com is an independent group of nitrogen fertilizer specialists with an impressive number of years experience in designing, maintaining and operating urea plants.
UreaKnowHow.com’s mission is to support, facilitate and promote the exchange of information within the nitrogen fertilizer industry with the target to improve the Safety and Performance of all nitrogen fertilizer plants worldwide. Together with the Chinese website UreaNet.cn, their network consists of more than 10.000 Managers and Engineers working in the Nitrogen Fertilizer Industry. They are the largest network in the nitrogen fertilizer industry and they keep growing. Recently also AmmoniaKnowHow.com has come online with a similar mission in the ammonia industry.
You have a long term experience in the Urea field, especially in the production of urea. How do you assess the urea market evolution?
Urea is the major nitrogen fertilizer, which are the nutrients for growing crop. It is estimated that without fertilizer we would be able to feed only 50% of our world population. As the world population is growing and more people achieve greater wealth (and consuming more meat), more and more fertilizer will be needed to produce more crop on the available land. Obviously demand and production not always grow at the same pace and during some years one sees fluctuations in fertilizer prices but on the medium and longer term one can expect a continuous stable and positive market evolution.
Due to current Market situation (low urea prices due to overcapacity and Chinese exports), situation (new project activity) is far from that one in the early 2010's. What do you forecast for the coming years?
Right we are now in a period of oversupply caused by the shale gas revolution in the United States and the transition from gas to coal in China. My forecast is that we should expect indeed a limited number of new urea plants during the next 1-2 years and after that a higher growth again. Please note that the average yearly urea demand growth figure is equal to 3 to 4 new world scale urea plants. Then I do not include yet replacement projects of older plants.
Re-entry of TUBACEX into the urea field
What is, from your perspective, the future trend in materials?
Worldwide urea plants are focusing more and more on a safe and reliable continuous operation. One day production loss means a huge financial loss in these large scale plants. This means more and more higher alloy materials like for example 25-22-2 austenitic stainless steel and duplex / super duplex materials will be applied in the high pressure synthesis section of urea plants. This is not only valid for new plants but also for maintenance replacement projects.
TUBACEX Austrian mill SBER was deeply present in the urea business in the 70's 80's and 90's, with a long track record of references. How do you see the re-entry of TUBACEX into the urea field?
I feel it is important and wise that TUBACEX, as the leading stainless steel producer in the world, re-enters in the urea industry. The already impressive list of new references proves the competitiveness of a reputable mill like SBER in Austria.
Which is, from your perspective, the positon of TUBACEX in the urea market after 4 years of intensive activity?
I believe TUBACEX will be able to achieve a significant market share looking at its impressive production capabilities and facilities worldwide. Furthermore TUBACEX investments in R&D and its reputation of assuring a high quality and high service level will assure the growth of TUBACEX market position in the urea industry.