OCI gears up to meet growing ammonia demand with Rotterdam terminal expansion

OCI NV, a producer and distributor of natural gas-based fertilizers and industrial chemicals based in the Netherlands, has made a final investment decision (FID) for the first phase of its ammonia import terminal expansion project at the Port of Rotterdam.

Port of Rotterdam

As disclosed, the expansion will be developed under a staged investment approach, with an initial increase in throughput capacity from the current c.400 ktpa to up to 1.2 million metric tons per year. This is to be achieved through low-cost upgrades to OCI’s existing infrastructure.

Photo: Port of Rotterdam

The total investment costs for the first phase are estimated to be below $20 million, with completion expected in 2023, according to OCI.

For the second phase, the company has completed a basic engineering package for the construction of a new world-scale ammonia tank at the terminal, which, along with a scale-up in jetty infrastructure, will allow a potential increase in throughput to above 3 million tons per annum. 

“… This project is a very logical step to leverage our incumbency status in Rotterdam to enhance our ammonia value chain: never has this been as vital as it is now. We are pleased to announce this milestone, enhancing a key ammonia import and future bunkering hub and aggregation point for low-carbon ammonia…,” Ahmed El-Hoshy, Chief Executive Officer of OCI NV commented.

El-Hoshy added that the terminal will serve as an important avenue for clean ammonia imports from global facilities, while also hoping to address current and future European hydrogen deficit needs.

This piece of the global value chain will, in the future, also “offer low carbon ammonia to feed the Dutch and wider European hydrogen needs in power generation, marine fuels, and broader industrial value chains, thereby reducing dependence on fossil fuels,” he noted.

Furthermore, the terminal is strategically located to facilitate emerging ammonia demand for bunkering to ocean-going vessels and to act as a hub for hydrogen imported in the form of ammonia from regions with ample natural gas and renewable resources such as the Middle East & North Africa.

Port of Rotterdam, as one of four major global and Europe’s largest bunkering port, is currently supplying around 11 million cbm of marine bunker fuels per year.

Allard Castelein, CEO Port of Rotterdam Authority stated that ammonia is not only a hydrogen carrier and a feedstock for the chemical industry, it is also an important renewable fuel for the shipping sector. To be able to bunker ammonia, steps such as OCI’s need to be implemented to increase the base. 

“OCI’s decision to invest in tripling its ammonia import capacity in Rotterdam perfectly fits our plans. Our ambition is to be a carbon neutral port in 2050. This regards not only the industry in the port area, but also shipping,” Castelein stressed.

The Port of Rotterdam Authority aims to accelerate the reduction of its own carbon emissions and eventually become an entirely emission-free port.

To achieve this, the port will ensure that all its vessels will switch completely to biofuel in the short term, and it has the ambition that from 2025 new vessels will be emission-free.

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