China is the world’s largest ammonia producer. According to the national statistics, the
2002 ammonia production had reached 36.54 million metric tons and that of 2003
increased further to 37.5 million tons. It is expected that the ammonia production in
China will continue to increase at a rate of 2~3% per annum in the coming decade.
China’s energy resource is characterized by “abundant in coal, in-sufficient in gas and
shortage in oil”. Coal accounts for 68% of the total energy consumption, oil accounts for
23.6%, natural gas accounts for 2.5%, hydro and nuclear power accounts for 6.9%
(2001). Even through the exploitation of natural gas is enhanced and large gas fields
have been found in recent years, due to strong gas demand from residential and other
industries, natural gas supply is not enough to meet the demand of ammonia industry.

By : Zhijian LI,

National Petroleum and Chemical Planning Institute (NPCPI), China

INTRODUCTION

China is the world’s largest ammonia producer. According to the national statistics, the
2002 ammonia production had reached 36.54 million metric tons and that of 2003
increased further to 37.5 million tons. It is expected that the ammonia production in
China will continue to increase at a rate of 2~3% per annum in the coming decade.
China’s energy resource is characterized by “abundant in coal, in-sufficient in gas and
shortage in oil”. Coal accounts for 68% of the total energy consumption, oil accounts for
23.6%, natural gas accounts for 2.5%, hydro and nuclear power accounts for 6.9%
(2001). Even through the exploitation of natural gas is enhanced and large gas fields
have been found in recent years, due to strong gas demand from residential and other
industries, natural gas supply is not enough to meet the demand of ammonia industry.
Twenty years ago, during the planning economy system, the policy for the development
of the ammonia industry is to encourage plants of all feedstocks: coal, oil and gas, due
to the strong demand for fertilizers. Oil and gas accounted for ~20% in the ammonia
feedstock respectively in 1980’s, and coal accounted for 60%. Since 1990’s, the market
economy reform started and oil-based plants gradually lose their competitiveness due
to the liberation of oil prices and withdrawal of subsidiary. Today, oil-based ammonia
capacity only accounts for 10% of the total and coal increased to 70%, while the natural
gas keeps the same 20% as before.
During past 50’s years, China built the world’s largest ammonia industry chiefly on coal
material, and mostly on domestic technologies for ammonia production. China
accumulated a lot of experience on coal-based ammonia plants. The coal-based
ammonia technologies keep improving today and in the future. I hope this paper will be
interesting to the world ammonia industry and especially to countries that lack cheap
natural gas.

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