Latest Buzz...


Monday, February 19, 2018

Orica invests in Australia, Incitec Pivot builds plant in US

The Business Council of Australia likes part of the story of Incitec Pivot, a company that invested in the US. Here's an Orica factory which is one of the many profitable Australian businesses the Business Council of Australia doesn't like to mention.

The BCA must be denigrating Australian investment opportunities to lobby for a corporate tax cut.

The NSW Department of Planning has approved Orica’s proposal to increase the levels of ammonia at its Kooragang Island facility.

US shale gas boom behind new Incitec Pivot factory

April 18, 2013

Incitec Pivot has credited the boom in US shale gas as a factor in its decision to build a new ammonia factory in Louisiana.

Incitec, which makes fertiliser and explosives for the agriculture and mining industries, is a heavy user of gas, and its CEO, James Fazzino, a critic of Australia’s unrestricted approach to gas exports.

"'[The plant] takes our North American business and any future expansions back to US gas economics," said Fazzino in a statement. "This is vital to this project because 80 per cent of the cost of making ammonia is gas."

Moving forward to 2016...

Details of Incitec Pivot’s US ammonia plant site

Incitec Pivot, through its subsidiary Dyno Nobel, constructed its seventh ammonia plant at Cornerstone’s Fortier Manufacturing Complex in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, US.

The project was implemented in conjunction with the maintenance, upgrades and infrastructure expansion for Cornerstone’s complex. With a production capacity of 800,000t a year, the ammonia plant began its operations in October 2016. The feasibility studies for the project commenced in May 2012 and construction works commenced in May 2013.

The new ammonia plant was constructed on a brownfield site at Fortier Manufacturing Complex in Waggaman, Louisiana, on the west bank of the Mississippi River.

It is located on the site of a former ammonia plant, which was closed down more than a decade ago.

Gilding the lily in 2017...
The Business Council of Australia copied the entire following article onto its web site from the Australia Financial Review.

Making a 'poster-child' of a business investing in the US and not mentioning a successful competitor, Orica, that invests in Australia looks like it is engaging in bashing Australian business.

Why Incitec Pivot Built a Factory in the US, not Australia

4 September 2017

This opinion article by Incitec Pivot chief executive James Fazzino was published in The Australian Financial Review on 4 September 2017.

With a dramatic sweep of his hand, the then-governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, proudly embraced the numerous manufacturing plants visible from the window of his office.

I will long remember the day that I made an impromptu contact with his office on the way to New Orleans where this obscure Australian company, Incitec Pivot Limited, was considering an $US850 million ($1.08 billion) investment in a world-scale ammonia plant. He cleared his diary to meet with me.

Statistically, there is much to recommend the US as a great place to do business: it is the world's largest economy and second largest manufacturer, with high levels of research, capital investment and productivity. These numbers help explain why the United States has been the largest destination for Australian investment for many years, as confirmed by the recently-released US Studies Centre report on the US-Australia investment relationship. However, numbers alone don't capture what is to me a key attraction for US investment – and an area where Australia could learn significantly: a strong supportive business-friendly culture. As the report details, Australian businesses like us who enter the United States receive a level of welcome that is rarely found in Australia.

More taxpayers, not taxes

Our experience in Louisiana is a testament to this: One of Jindal's initial comments to me about why he was focused on supporting project development particularly stood out: "I'm not about more taxes; I'm about more taxpayers".

This approach extended throughout his administration. It was essential to our project economics that the approvals process was expedited – not the standards lessened – so we could sign a lump-sum construction contract. Louisiana has environmental and regulatory standards the equal, if not higher, than Australia and yet we achieved approval in six months. Meanwhile, the US Studies report details how it took years for a simple retailer like Costco to get the zoning approval to open their first warehouse in Victoria.

The state government agency charged with encouraging business into the state is called Louisiana Economic Development (LED). When we discussed with LED the need to expedite the approval deadlines, the response was that "we won't lower the standards but we can have our people work overtime to ensure that all the documentation achieves the necessary quality … if you pay for the overtime". Of course, we agreed.

With LED, we were never forgotten after we began the process of building our plant. They contacted us regularly asking: "Is there any more that we can do to help further?" That's a business-friendly partner.

This level of commitment to a mutually-beneficial outcome extended to all levels of government from the state to the local.

On time and under budget

The Louisiana project was an outstanding investment for IPL and was recognised as such by an international management consultancy, which benchmarked the project in the top 2 per cent of global construction projects for delivery on time and under budget – and most importantly, with zero lost time injuries.

Sadly for Australia, we looked at a similar development at the same time in New South Wales that did not end up proceeding. Like other case studies of Australian firms detailed in the US Studies Centre report, the case for making such a sizeable investment in the United States was incontrovertible when compared with the same option in Australia.

Let me give you three simple examples for why.

Bureaucracy: The US Studies report details the lengthy regulatory process companies face in Australia and our experience is no different. The approvals process for our Australian project took some three years – about the same time that it took to construct the entire project in Louisiana. Our US plant was producing when we would have just started turning the first sod in Australia.

Workplace productivity: the cost to construct the project in Australia would have been 40 to 50 per cent more than what our Louisiana plant cost us.

Energy: To manufacture ammonia – and many commonly-used plastics and chemicals – gas is used as a raw material, in the same way as iron ore for the manufacture of steel. The competitive price of gas was a critical decision point for the Louisiana project. The US has a gas price of about $US3 per gigajoule, partly as a result of federal government policy. In Australia, previous Australian federal and state governments have allowed unfettered exports from the East Coast and the price of gas is as high as $20 for some industrial users; as well as adding $300 to $400 to some household energy bills. To his credit, Prime Minister Turnbull has regulated to ensure domestic supply is protected in balance with exports.

Confident in the US

While the United States has taken time to recover from the global financial crisis and there are some current headwinds, I'm confident about the outlook for the US economy.

There are predictions by many that the Chinese ascendancy is close. I have no doubt that will eventually happen – sooner or later. However, I have a soft spot for the United States and believe that their business-friendly culture will always provide that competitive edge. After all, it's a great place to do business.

James Fazzino is managing director and chief executive of Incitec Pivot Limited and adjunct professor to La Trobe Business School.

Other businesses in competition with Incitec Pivot ...

Orica and Yara open the world’s first modular ammonium nitrate plant in Western Australia

25 Aug 2016

The next generation of downstream processing has arrived in the resource rich Pilbara region of Western Australia with the official opening of the Yara Pilbara Nitrates technical ammonium nitrate (TAN) manufacturing plant.

The plant, developed in joint venture by Orica Limited and Yara International ASA, will have capacity to produce 330,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate (AN) per annum. Ammonium nitrate is the main component of explosives used in the mining, quarrying and construction industries. The plant is currently in the commissioning phase and is expected to be operational by the end of 2016.

The Orica and Yara joint venture facility was opened today by Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett at a ceremony marking the completion of the plant construction phase. The plant is fully integrated with the neighbouring Yara Pilbara Fertilisers ammonia plant, which exports 800,000 tonnes of ammonia per annum to world markets.

Orica launches fertiliser business

04 Dec 2017

Grain and cotton growers across NSW and Queensland are set to benefit as Orica launches its new fertiliser business with plans for a local manufacturing plant for urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) in Moree, NSW.

Orica Agriculture also expects to begin supply of anhydrous ammonia to east coast growers in April next year, with dedicated line haul and on-farm nurse tank fleets.

Construction of the UAN plant is scheduled to commence in 2018, but growers can access transported UAN immediately.

These investments will bring increased competition, as well as secure and consistent supply of liquid and gas nitrogen fertiliser, to growers on the east coast of Australia.

Orica Agriculture Senior Business Manager, Paul Scutt, says liquid fertiliser is a speciality product used with great success in Western Australia and other markets globally and there is growing interest in the eastern States.

“We believe the market is ready to embrace the benefits of UAN including precision application during specific crop growth stages, reducing passes over paddocks and the reliance on pending rainfall for incorporation of fertiliser.

Orica snatches more business from Incitec as Roy Hill contract in doubt

12 Jan 2018

Orica appears to have snatched more business from rival explosives manufacturer Incitec Pivot, after Gina Rinehart's Roy Hill indicated it would not renew Incitec's contract to supply explosives when it expires next month.

Roy Hill's decision comes barely one month after BHP confirmed it would not renew Incitec's contract to supply ammonium nitrate prill to BHP's West Australian iron ore division when the contract expires in November 2019.

Loss of the BHP contract will deliver a combined $35 million hit to Incitec's net profits over the 2020 and 2021 financial years, and Incitec said this week the loss of the Roy Hill contract would deliver a further $81 million hit to net profits after tax over the next five years.