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CHS fertilizer plant delay unlikely to affect GF project

Northern Plains Nitrogen

GRAND FORKS, N.D. - The delay of a proposed CHS nitrogen fertilizer plant in Spiritwood, N.D., isn't expected to have an effect on a similar project in the works near Grand Forks.

Don Pottinger, CEO of Northern Plains Nitrogen, which is proposing a $1.7 billion fertilizer plant northwest of Grand Forks, said Wednesday that CHS' announcement doesn't change anything about his company's plans.

"(NPN) was the brainchild of North Dakota corn growers," Pottinger said in a phone interview. "Their needs haven't changed, and their prospects to buy fertilizer hasn't changed."

CHS said Tuesday that an anticipated announcement on whether it would go forward with the plant, which was initially projected to cost $1.5 billion to $2 billion, would be delayed due to "significantly higher than expected construction and labor cost estimates."

Pottinger said he understands CHS' labor concerns, but he said NPN is addressing those issues. He said NPN has a team working with construction companies to make sure there are enough workers to build the plant.

He expects an engineering study on the NPN plant to be complete this summer, he said.

The NPN plant could be operational by 2017.