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Iowa’s largest economic development project ever

By Staff | Feb 26, 2016

An aerial photo shows the overall footprint of the CF Industries new facility at Port Neal in Sioux City looking southwest. Construction continues day and night on the snowy work site.

SIOUX CITY – Those wanting to keep up with Nick DeRoos at CF Industries in Sioux City, need to keep a fast pace.

DeRoos said he’s wearing two hats these days – general manager of CF’s Port Neal Complex and director of the fertilizer company’s $2 billion expansion project at the complex south of Sioux City.

The project is heralded as the largest economic development project in Iowa’s history.

“We’re about 10.5 million man hours into the expansion, so a tremendous amount of work has been accomplished,” Deroos said. “That said, as we enter the final stage of the project, we still have work to do before the new facilities are ready to operate.

“We’re currently completing structural steel erection, welding, pipe fitting, electrical and instrumentation work, installing cladding on buildings, grouting as well as doing a few other activities.

The new CF Industries ammonia plant is under construction in this photo taken in January. CF Industries is more than tripling its capacity to produce anhydrous ammonia. This plant will have the capacity to produce 2,420 tons per day of the product.

“We’ve worked with our general contractor and subcontractors to develop a detailed construction schedule that identifies when each stage (of the project needs to be finished to lay the groundwork for the next.”

DeRoos said work is being accomplished on multiple levels simultaneously and progress in any given area can be affected by a number of different variables such as weather, workforce availability and other factors.

“It’s a vast, complex, moving target that requires incredibly detailed planning and effective execution,” he said. “This means we have to be nimble, flexible and often creative to keep things moving at an acceptable rate of progress.

“Summarizing all of this, I’d say what we’re doing is what is to meet our original goal of bringing the new facilities to an operational status in mid-2016.”

DeRoos said that once operational the new facilities will be producing 2,420 tons of ammonia per day and then upgrading the larger share of the ammonia into granular urea, a solid nitrogen fertilizer.

The Urea Synthesis and Granulation plant, in the foreground, will upgrade anhydrous ammonia into urea. The granulation plant on the right will process liquid urea into a granular product. As part of the expansion, the company is also building a granular urea warehouse that will hold 154,000 tons of granular urea.

The new plants within the facility will have the capacity to produce about 3,850 tons per day of the granular urea product.

“This new supply in the heart of the most productive farmland in the world will mean that less product needs to be shipped here from elsewhere,” DeRoos said. “This will help ensure that the product farmers need will be here when they need it, and that transportation costs will be reduced.”

And Woodbury County will benefit long-term from the expansion project.

“The local economy will benefit from the project through significantly increased property tax revenues,” Woodbury County officials said, that plan to use these revenues to fund infrastructure improvements that will support continued economic growth and lower property taxes for residents countywide.

DeRoos said the current construction workforce on the CF project is approximately 4,300 with 1,000 of these employees working night shifts.

He said a December 2015 construction workforce showed workers from 46 states, plus Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, with approximately 20 percent of the construction work from the tri-state area.

“The temporary construction workforce is having a tremendous economic impact in terms of what they contribute to the local economy for housing, food, entertainment and other goods and services,” DeRoos said. “This is in addition to all the local vendors – we’ve counted around 100 of them – that we are using for building materials and construction and non-construction services.

“Overall, this project has kind of been Siouxland’s own little stimulus package.”

He said once the expansion is completed CF’s Port Neal Complex will have about 250 permanent employees operating and supporting the original and new facilities.

Hiring of nearly all of those involved has been completed, DeRoos said, with training underway.

“City and county representatives have been great to work with,” DeRoos said, “and we’ve partnered with one another successfully since before the project was announced.

“The range of activities we’ve worked together on runs the gamut from securing utilities and all the permits we’ve needed, to traffic control, emergency response and road improvement and ongoing maintenance.

“The CF Industries Port Neal Complex will be here for many years to come.

“We’re grateful for the entire community’s support for our expansion, and we are committed to continuing to be a great employer and good corporate citizen that contributes to our community in a positive way.”

CF Industries is a global company headquartered in Deerfield, Illinois, has assets in the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom and Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. The Port Neal Complex, one of seven CF nitrogen manufacturing sites in North America, is at present, the smallest of the company’s North American manufacturing. Once the expansion is completed, the Port Neal Complex will be CF’s second largest trailing only the Donaldson, Louisiana facilities (also an expansion site) in production capability.

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