The 7 biggest nitrogen fertilizer manufacturers in America are among some 30 companies that operate production facilities across the United States. Even though there are so many companies and the biggest nitrogen fertilizer manufacturers alone produce millions of tons of fertilizers, the U.S is still a net importer, as it imports between 2 million and 3 million tons of ammonia annually.
There are two main reasons that explain why the U.S has to import nitrogen fertilizers. The first is the high demand, as nitrogen fertilizer is required in larger quantities than fertilizers made from the other two main nutrients, and the second is the high cost of production. However, as natural gas prices in the U.S have been low over the last couple of years, more production facilities across the country have been built, allowing biggest nitrogen fertilizer manufacturers in America like CF Industries Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:CF), Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (USA) (NYSE:POT), and Terra Nitrogen Company, L.P. (NYSE:TNH) to supply the largest share of the fertilizer market in the country.
Nitrogen fertilizer is a type of mineral fertilizer that is made from ammonia, which in itself can be used as a fertilizer, but is often used to manufacture other types of nitrogen fertilizers. Ammonia is produced through a Haber-Bosch process, which involves natural gas (chemical formula CH4) that provides the hydrogen, while the nitrogen is obtained from the air. Through the process, ammonia (NH3) is created and is used for the production of urea and other fertilizers. Therefore, because the production of nitrogen fertilizers requires high quantities of natural gas, it is one of the main cost drivers for the price of fertilizers and is also why many companies, including the biggest nitrogen fertilizer manufacturers in America, choose to build manufacturing facilities in countries with historically low natural gas prices.
As stated earlier, nitrogen is required in higher quantities than the other two main nutrients. This is because nitrogen is the most important out of the three so-called “macro nutrients”, the other two being phosphorus and potassium. Nitrogen is directly responsible for the crop size, as compared to the other two, which impact the crop quality. According to the International Fertilizers Association, in 2015/2016, there were around 181 million tons of fertilizer consumed, 60% of which were nitrogen fertilizers. Moreover, nitrogen fertilizers require being added every year, as opposed to phosphorus and potassium. These factors highly benefit the biggest nitrogen fertilizer manufacturers in America.
The biggest nitrogen fertilizer manufacturers in America will likely benefit from higher demand, as the world is tackling global warming and greenhouse gas emissions. The production of ammonia is an energy intensive process and has a big carbon footprint. China, which uses coal-based ammonia, has one of the highest footprints. At the same time, China is one of the leaders at tackling greenhouse gas emissions and plans to reduce the capacity of its ammonia plants. At the same time, European companies, which have historically faced tougher regulations and higher energy prices, have invested heavily in making the process as energy-efficient as possible, providing their plants with catalysts that reduce emissions. In the U.S, the situation regarding regulations is rather uncertain at the moment, judging by the “efforts” of the current administration, but companies also have the possibility to upgrade their facilities in order to tackle climate change. At the same time, one of the regions with the highest demand growth is expected to be South America, so biggest nitrogen fertilizer manufacturers in America and other smaller manufacturers stand to benefit due to their geographical proximity.
Having said that, let’s take a closer look at the 7 biggest nitrogen fertilizer manufacturers in America, some of which are also among the 11 biggest fertilizer companies in the world. To compile this list, only the biggest nitrogen fertilizer manufacturers in America with manufacturing facilities in the U.S were taken into consideration. As a criterion for these nitrogen fertilizer manufacturers, we took into account only the quantities of ammonia that were manufactured at their U.S facilities during these companies’ latest fiscal years, with the data having been reported in the companies’ 10-K reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (all included companies are public).
7. Mosaic Co (NYSE:MOS)
Produced: 500,000 tons
Mosaic Co (NYSE:MOS) rounds out the list of the 7 biggest nitrogen fertilizer manufacturers in America. The company focuses mainly on the production of concentrated phosphate and potash crop nutrients, and the owning and operation of mines and production facilities in several countries. It is the largest integrated phosphate producer in the world, accounting for around 14% of global production and 75% of North American production. Mosaic Co (NYSE:MOS) also makes nitrogen-based crop nutrients and animal feed ingredients and operates a facility in Faustina, Louisiana, which produces around 500,000 tons of ammonia annually. However, the company has to buy additional ammonia and has signed an agreement with CF Industries Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:CF) to acquire between 545,000 and 725,000 tons of ammonia per year.
6. CVR Partners LP (NYSE:UAN)
Produced: 693,500 tons
CVR Partners LP (NYSE:UAN) was formed by U.S energy company CVR Energy, Inc. (NYSE:CVI) to handle its nitrogen fertilizer business. Its main products are ammonia and UAN, which are sold on a wholesale basis to retailers and distributors, as well as agricultural and industrial customers. Its main markets are Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Texas. CVR Partners LP (NYSE:UAN) operates two manufacturing facilities, one in Kansas and one in Illinois, the latter having been acquired last year.
5. Agrium Inc. (USA) (NYSE:AGU)
Produced: 772,000 tons
Agrium Inc. (USA) (NYSE:AGU) manufactures all three primary nutrients and has production facilities and mines in the U.S, Canada, Argentina (where it owns a 50% joint venture interest in Profertil), and Egypt (where it owns a 26% stake in MISR Fertiliser Production Company). It also has storage facilities in the aforementioned countries, as well as in several European countries. Nitrogen represents Agrium Inc. (USA) (NYSE:AGU)’s most important nutrient in terms of capacity, production and sales, accounting for 60% of the company’s capacity. It has five major nitrogen production facilities in North America. Agrium Inc. (USA) (NYSE:AGU) is one of the top five publicly-traded nitrogen fertilizer manufacturers.
4. LSB Industries, Inc. (NYSE:LXU)
Produced: 880,255 tons
Another company in the list of biggest nitrogen fertilizer manufacturers in America is LSB Industries, Inc. (NYSE:LXU). LSB Industries produces ammonia and other nitrogen products for agricultural applications, as well as ammonia, sulfuric acids, and other products for industrial and mining uses. The company has four production facilities, three of which are company-owned and one of which is under an operating agreement.
3. Terra Nitrogen Company, L.P. (NYSE:TNH)
Produced: 1.13 million tons
Terra Nitrogen Company, L.P. (NYSE:TNH) operates a nitrogen fertilizer production facility in Verdigris, Oklahoma and manufactures ammonia and urea ammonium nitrate solutions (UAN), which contain 92% and 32% nitrogen respectively. Its main seller is UAN, with 1.76 million tons sold in 2016. It also sold 409,000 tons of ammonia and generated total sales of $416.6 million.
2. Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (USA) (NYSE:POT)
Produced: 1.87 million tons
Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (USA) (NYSE:POT) is a Canada-based company that produces all three main nutrients, but focuses on potash. In terms of capacity, Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (USA) (NYSE:POT) is the largest in the world, accounting for 22% of global potash capacity. Its nitrogen operations represented around 2% of worldwide capacity last year. The company has four nitrogen production facilities, of which three are in the U.S, while one is in Trinidad.
1. CF Industries Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:CF)
Produced: 7.83 million tons
CF Industries Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:CF) tops the list of the 7 biggest nitrogen fertilizer manufacturers in America. The company is focused entirely on the production of nitrogen fertilizer and other nitrogen products. Its product segments include ammonia, granular urea, UAN (a solution of urea and ammonium nitrate), and ammonium nitrate. CF Industries Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:CF) operates nine production facilities, including five in the U.S, two in Canada and two in the United Kingdom. The company’s largest production facility is in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, which is the largest nitrogen fertilizer complex in the world. Last year, CF Industries Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:CF) sold nearly 17.0 million tons of nitrogen products and generated $3.69 billion in sales.
These are the 7 biggest nitrogen fertilizer manufacturers in America. Aside from these companies, another large manufacturer of nitrogen fertilizers is Koch Nitrogen Company, a subsidiary of the private conglomerate Koch Industries, although its production volume is not disclosed (it could be even larger than some of the nitrogen fertilizer manufacturers presented earlier). In addition, Yara, the largest nitrogen fertilizer manufacturer in the world, has plans to build some production facilities in the U.S.