Opening of urea facility in North Dakota provides farmers with access to urea fertilizer

2018---Urea---Storage-Until recently, farmers in the Northern Plains who wanted to use urea, a safe and cost-effective granular fertilizer, had to either import it through the Minneapolis, Minnesota, area where it was shipped by barge up the Mississippi River, or ship it from a production facility in the lower Midwest.

But this spring, Dakota Gasification Company’s Great Plains Synfuels Plant near Beulah, North Dakota, became home to the first urea fertilizer production facility in the four-state area of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Minnesota.

The facility was declared commercial Feb. 1, and since then, Basin Electric’s Asset Management, Resource Planning, and Rates Department has been negotiating contracts with wholesale marketing companies in North Dakota, northern South Dakota, eastern Montana, and Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Canada.

The demand for urea in North Dakota alone is twice what the production facility can manufacture, but 80 percent of it is needed from late March to early June. And while the facility does include a 53,000-ton storage facility, it can’t store an entire year’s worth at one time, so it is necessary to sell it during North Dakota’s off season.


Joey Nelson, Dakota Gasification Company’s shift supervisor for fertilizer, watches as urea is loaded into a truck.

The loadout area, which like the rest of the urea facility is a brand-new concept to all who are now running it, is open for business 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The area includes three bays – one for trucks, one for either trucks or railcars, and one for diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), another product manufactured at the urea facility, which is used to reduce emissions from diesel engines.


Trucks waiting to be loaded with urea.

The amount of urea shipped out each day depends on the market. Truck loading is not scheduled – trucks just come in as they need product, and staff is there to help them with whatever is needed.

Learn more about how Dakota Gasification Company’s urea facility operates and how it will help give our farmers access to urea by reading the full story in the Spring 2018 issue of Basin Today: Urea hits the road and the rails just in time for Spring.

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