Pequiven Ammonia Plant, Venezuela

Petroquimica de Venezuela (Pequiven) is constructing a new ammonia plant for the manufacture of fertiliser at its petrochemical complex in Moron, Carabobo State (21km from Puerto Cabello). The new plant is part of a €1bn investment on the complex.

"Pequiven has 13 fully owned plants that produce basic petrochemicals and fertilisers."

The new ammonia plant is part of the Pequiven strategy to double its fertiliser production, which now stands at just over 2mtpa with 700,000t being exported to Latin American countries.

Pequiven has four complexes across Venezuela at El Tablazo, Jose, Paraguana and also Moron. The strategy of Pequiven is "to capture regional opportunities in fertilisers" and also to "continue expansion of their petrochemicals production capacity". Over $21bn will be invested into Venezuela's petrochemicals infrastructure over the next ten years.


The Moron petrochemicals complex already has a fertiliser plant which will be replaced by the new ammonia facility. The new plant will have a capacity of 1,800t per day of ammonia, which will be used to produce nitrogenous fertilisers for the domestic market. The fertiliser will be produced either in the adjacent plant or by using new processing units constructed at the plant.

A 2,200t per day urea unit and other utility and offsite facilities will be built. The natural gas feedstock will be supplied indigenously. Construction is expected to take 32 months and is scheduled for completion in June 2011.


In December 2007 Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) was awarded a contract worth $57m by MAN Ferrostaal (MFS) for services including basic and detailed engineering for the new ammonia plant. KBR is also supplying its KAAP (KBR Advanced Ammonia Process) technology and catalyst for use in the plant, which was licensed to Pequiven in July 2007. It is the first time this technology has been used in the country.

MFS is responsible for the overall project management for the ammonia plant. MCM Construcciones y Montajes, a subsidiary of MFS, is responsible for the construction work. Other contractors appointed for the construction of the plant include Toyo Engineering Corporation (TOYO) and VEC Ingenieria y Construccion (VEC), a consortium of Y&V Ingenieria y Construccion and Tecnoconsult subsidiaries. These contractors may well be constructing additional fertiliser production units.

In February 2008, ULMA Piping was awarded a contract to supply flanges for the plant.

"Over $21bn will be invested into Venezuela's petrochemicals infrastructure over the next ten years."


The KAAP technology which will be used at the plant uses a reforming exchange system and a purifier also from KBR to produce a conversion of ammonia gas of around 18–20%. The KAPP synthesis loop pressure is around 90 bar (1,305psi) and is of a four-bed design. The catalyst used is ruthenium-based co-promoted type on a graphite support, which is around 20 times more active than the more traditional iron-based catalysts.

The KAAP reactor design has four beds, the first of which has a magnetite catalyst – ammonia concentration is 2% of the feed. The next three beds have the ruthenium catalyst where the ammonia concentration approaches 20%. The ruthenium catalyst also means that the reactor pressure can be reduced to save costs.

The KAAP reactor has a specially designed sealing system which prevents feed gas from by-passing the catalyst beds.