ANZ Ammonia Producers Conference - 2019

14th Annual Australia New Zealand (ANZ) Ammonia Producers Meeting was held at the beautiful sea shore town of New Plymouth, New Zealand from 5-7 Nov 2019. It was hosted by Ballance Agri-Nutrients, Kapuni, NZ at the TSB Show place, New Plymouth. The event was headed and organized by Mr.Venkat Pattabathula, the global ammonia technology manager of Incitec Pivot Limited, Australia and a seasoned mentor and a well-known face in the Ammonia Industry.

The ANZ NH3 meeting is a self-motivated initiative which started 15 years ago as three plant's process engineers coming together for an informal discussion. It has has now grown into a group of people in the Australia – New Zealand region with a common in ammonia industry, bound together and passionate in knowledge sharing identifying best practices and troubleshooting plant operational challenges. They aim to produce a collaborative mentoring environment to improve plant safety, reliability, operability and energy efficiency and openly share the issues, challenges and solutions every plant encountered. The main objective is to learn lessons from the past and never repeat history.

The plants from the producers' side were 1.Ballance Agri-Nutrients, NZ 2.Yara Pilbara, WA 3.CSBP Wesfarmers, Kwinana, WA 4.Orica KooragangIsland, NSW 5.Dyno Nobel, Moranbah, QLD 6.IncitecPivot, Gibson Island, QLD 7.Incitec Pivot, Phosphate Hill, QLD 8.QNP, Moura, QLD.

 The vendors who attended were 1.ATMECO 2.BASF 3.Casale 4.Clariant 5.Contract Resources 6.Dialog Fitzroy 7.FITIRI 8.GLP 9.HaldorTopsoe 10.Ixom 11.Johnson Matthey 12.KBR 13.Koch Glitsch 14.Nalco 15.Quest Integrity 16.Solenis 17.Suez 18.USTT 19.Violia.

Every producer was given 60 mins to present on plant highlights, areas of improvement, site strategy, upcoming projects, issues for which they are looking for solutions and problems they had solved for the past one year. After the presentation there was a very interactive Q&A session.

Every vendor was given 30 mins to present on their offerings, latest developments in their focus area, challenges they have helped for other plants. Many of the vendors flew from various parts of the world to attend this event. The topics for this year were

  • Catalysts
  • CO2 removal solvents
  • Gas/liquid Separators
  • Fixed Support Media
  • Catalyst Handling
  • New Technology
  • Reformer Inspections
  • Plant Revamps
  • Wireless Communications
  • Water and Boilers
  • Risk Management

The meeting was a very good example of a self-help group initiative where the engineers were able to sit in a closed informal setup and share their knowledge and also seek help. It was a great learning session for young engineers and a coaching session for seasoned engineers in the Ammonia industry. Newer topics like the green ammonia initiatives and the regulations surrounding it were also brought up. The cost and economics of green ammonia compared to conventional production was also discussed.

The meeting which now has an attendance of close to 100 people is a great model for other regional ammonia plants to follow. Exchanging information improves transparency and accountability while also serves as a warning for others to not repeat mistakes especially when it comes to safety. So overall we can confidently conclude that the ANZ 14th meeting met its objective of learning from history and not repeating it.