Profertil Ammonia and Urea Plant, Argentina

An ammonia and urea production facility was built by Profertil, a joint venture between Spain's Repsol YPF and Canada's Agrium. The plant began commercial production during the first quarter of 2001, producing 1.1m tpa of urea and 750,000tpa of ammonia. The facility is located in Bahia Blanca, Argentina.

Start-up hitches

During the second half of 2000 the contractor, Italy's Snamprogetti, began the process of running the plant prior to the commercial production phase. During this 'start-up' period Agrium reported two incidents. In July 2000 a gas release from a ring joint flange caused a fire in a pipe rack in the ammonia unit.

The incident was said to have been brought rapidly under control and no one was injured. The damage was restricted to a section of pipe rack and associated piping, cable tray and instrument/electrical cabling.

"The 750,000tpa ammonia plant was designed by Haldor Topsoe group."

A second incident in November 2000 saw a minor ammonia release. Argentina's environmental agency ordered that the urea plant stop production. Profertil sought a judicial review on the order.

The courts decided not to intervene, instead suggesting that the matter be resolved through government administrative procedures for appealing against such decisions.

Following a meeting between Profertil and government officials the urea plant was back in operation before the end of 2000.

Local concerns

To address concerns from the nearby community a 24in flare stack was installed to reduce ammonia emissions from the urea plant.

Engineering, procurement and construction contract

The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) was carried out by Snamprogetti and Techint. The value of the contract was not disclosed.

Plant engineering software

Relsoft, with offices in Argentina and Mexico supplied its plant engineering software, e-plant, for the 3D piping and equipment piping and instrumentation diagrams and flow diagram drawings for Profertil's ammonia and urea plant.

Ammonia plant design

The 750,000tpa ammonia plant was designed by Haldor Topsoe group. The production plant represented the largest design capacity for any single line ammonia plant operating in the world at that time.

Fired heaters

Italy's Kirchner Italia was responsible for providing a primary reformer for the ammonia plant. Kirchner Italia specialises in the supply and installation of fired heaters for a range of applications in the oil and petrochemical industry.

Operator training systems

An operator training system (OTS) was developed for the Profertil production plant by Trident Computer Resources, located in New Jersey, US, and their Italian partner APC Tech, based in Milan. Snamprogetti, as process licensor was also involved in the development of the OTS.

"The Profertil fertiliser complex has been in operation since its start-up in January 2001."
Advanced process control

Eascon, an Italian engineering company involved in the area of automation and process management for refineries, chemical and petrochemical plant, provided process computer technology for the Profertil plant.

The contract included the design and configuration work.


The Profertil fertiliser complex has been in operation since its start-up in January 2001. The complex includes: 750,000tpa of ammonia; 1.1 million tpa urea; a urea granulation plant with a capacity of 610,500tpa; 150tpa of storage space and load-out facilities; and a deep water pier for the exclusive use of Profertil.