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Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook: Metals and minerals 1978-79
Year 1978-79, Volume 1 (1978-1979)

Foster, Russell J.
Nitrogen,   pp. 643-653 ff. PDF (1.4 MB)


Page 643

  643Nitrogen 
By Russell J. Foster1 
 Domestic ammonia production declined in 1978, but recovered to a record
level in 1979. Consumption of ammonia in the United States continued upward,
eclipsing previous peaks in both 1978 and 1979. Exports of ammonia and total
nitrogen in compounds increased both years. Although total nitrogen-containing
imports leveled off, the quantity of imported ammonia continued to rise.
Industry overcapacity and rising costs, as well as low-priced imports, have
confronted U.S. ammonia producers. 
 Legislation and Government Programs.—In July 1979, 12 U.S. producers
and 1 distributor of ammonia petitioned the U.S. International Trade Commission
for relief from Soviet imports under section 406 of the Trade Act of 1974.
On October 11 the Commission reported to the President that market disruption
did exist, and recommended a 3-year quota on U.S. imports of ammonia from
the U.S.S.R. of 1.0 million tons in 1980, 1.1 million tons in 1981, and 1.3
million tons in 1982. However, on December 11, the President rejected the
finding and recommendation.2 
 The Department of Energy approved the suggestion of W. R. Grace &
Co.
to change its proposed ammonia-from-coal plant at Henderson, Ky., to a commercial-size
facili 
ty for the coal-based production of gasoline via methanol.~ 
 The Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978 was enacted in October 1978. The measure,
effective December 1, 1978, contains a decontrol provision based on a system
of incremental price increases until 1985, when price controls on much of
the natural gas will be lifted. The act assures that essential agricultural
users of natural gas will receive priority second only to residential, school,
and hospital use, in the event of curtailments.~ 
 In March 1978 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ruled that
natural gas from Federal offshore sources must be offered to the interstate
market and could not be reserved for the producer or specific customers.5
In June 1979 FERC announced that approval for First Mississippi Corp. and
its partners to use Federal offshore natural gas for their joint-venture
ammonia plant at Donaldsonville, La., would be contingent on the companies'
agreeing to offer natural gas from other sources to the interstate pipelines
that will transport the gas to the plant.6 
 The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established effluent limitations
guidelines for ammonia and ammonium 
Table 1.—Salient ammonia statistics 
(Thousand short tons of contained nitrogen) 
1975 
1976 
1977 
1978 
1W19" 
United States: 
Production1                                     
Exports                                        
r13,609 289 
r13856 361 
14,712 
346 
14,232 
434 
14,932 
649 
Importsforconsumption                            
Consumption2                                   
world: Production                                   
662 
r13,223 
eM 600 
599 
r13,939 
62,600 
884 
14,831 
68,500 
1,247 
15,270 
72,800 
1,603 
16,178 
77,200 
 e~timate 5Preliminary. ~ 
' Synthetic anhydrous ammonia and coke oven ammonia. 
2lncludes producers' stock change in synthetic anhydrous ammonia and coke
oven ammonia. 


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