Introduction

The story of the development of the Dutch fertilizer industry tells of many mergers, take-overs and changes of name. It is true that many of today's companies came into being as production sites of either nitrogenous or phosphate fertilizers, but nowadays almost all companies manufacture a large selection of fertilizers containing all three elements N, P and K. A story of the development of the current Dutch production sites. In the text the current members of VKP [Association of fertilizer manufacturers] are shown with a link to their website. The information derived includes that from publications listed under the heading "Sources".

Phosphate fertilizer manufacturers

At the end of the nineteenth century three small-scale superphosphate factories were set up: Salomonson in Capelle aan den IJssel in 1875, Coenen en Schoenmakers in Uden, and Van Hoorn, Luitjens en Kamminga in Groningen, in 1882. In 1895 the larger-scale Internationale Guano en Superphosphaat Werken was founded in Zwijndrecht, where the sulphuric acid for the fertilizer production was also made. In 1895 the Salomonson factory was renamed: Centrale Guano Fabrieken (CGF). CGF also built two new sulphuric acid plants in 1904 and 1910, so becoming the biggest sulphuric acid manufacturers in the Netherlands.

In 1915 CGF merged with Internationale Guano en Superphosphaat Werken and Van Hoorn, Luitjens en Kamminga, to become the Vereenigde Chemische Fabrieken (VCF). In 1907 the Amsterdamsche Superfosfaatfabriek ASF was founded, followed in 1910 by the superphosphate factory "Holland" in Pernis. The "Holland" was taken over by ASF in 1913. In 1917 VCF merged with ASF and became ASF-VCF, which was converted to one trading partnership in 1948 under the name 'Albatros Superfosfaatfabrieken'. In 1959, together with an American company, this company set up the 'Albatros Zwavelzuur en Chemische Fabrieken', where sulphuric acid was produced from pyrite. At the end of the fifties, both companies were owned by the Koninklijke Nederlandse Zoutindustrie KNZ (later Akzo), but kept their own names. In 1962 the Albatros factories joined up with a manufacturer of nitrogenous fertilizer, MEKOG in IJmuiden, a union through which the Verenigde Kunstmestfabrieken Albatros-MEKOG (VKF) was formed. This company supplied both nitrogenous and phosphate fertilizers, but also compound fertilizers and was owned by Shell (40%), the Koninklijke Nederlandse Zoutindustrie KNZ (40%) and Hoogovens (20%). In 1970 VKF merged with the fertilizer manufacturers of the Dutch State Mines (DSM), a merger which spawned the Unie van Kunstmest Fabrieken (UKF). In 1973 Hoogovens and KNZ (now called Akzo) withdrew from UKF and the company became three quarters owned by DSM and one quarter by Shell. UKF became a full subsidiary of DSM in 1979, which, however, sold the Amsterdamsche Superfosfaatfabriek to the Israeli company ICL in 1982. The Amsterdam production facility was called Amsterdam Fertilizers B.V. (AMFERT). As from January 2008 all of Amfert’s activities were transferred to the new partnership: ICL Fertilizers Europe C.V. In 1988 DSM transferred the phosphate plant in Pernis to the Finnish company Kemira Oy, known by this name since 1951 and originating from a Finnish superphosphate factory founded in 1920. This production facility was called Kemira Agro Pernis B.V. and is now called Kemira GrowHow B.V.. In July 2000 ended Kemira Agro the production of phosphoric acid, sulphuric acid and DAP/MAP phosphoric fertilizers at Pernis. Besides a global overcapacity of phosphoric acid and related products DAP/MAP, were relatively high production costs and environmentally induced investments cited as reasons for the closure. In 1917 the Eerste Nederlandse Coöperatieve Kunstmestfabriek (ENCK) was founded and the production of superphosphate started in Vlaardingen in 1921. During the second World War, production by ENCK stopped, but on the African continent the seed was sown for the Windmill subsidiaries. The international concern underwent various changes of shareholders/owners, participated in the compound fertilizer company Deltachemie and, among other things, constituted a part of the American company company CRC, after which, in 1970, ENCK ceased to exist as a co-operative. In 1986 COFAZ (Compagnie Française de l'Azote), then owner, was taken over by the Norwegian fertilizer manufacturer Norsk Hydro. During a reorganisation in 1989 the company was renamed Hydro Agri Rotterdam BV.

In 1919 the production of superphosphate and sulphuric acid was started at the location in Sas van Gent, for which in 1912 the green light had been given by the N.V. Nieuwe Nederlandsche Maatschappij tot vervaardiging van Spiegelglas, Glazen Voorwerpen en Chemische Producten (owned by the French company Saint-Gobain). In 1962 the name was changed to Zuid-Chemie. In 1972 the company was in the hands of the French firm Pechiney-Saint Gobain and the fertilizer divisions of this company were amalgamated with those of Produits Chimique Kuhlman under the name Generale des Engrais (G.E.S.A.). From 1979 there were various share takeovers and in 1987 70% of the company belonged to Orkem and 30% to Air Liquide under the name Société Chimique de la Grande Paroisse. In 1990 Orkem's block of shares were acquired by Elf Atochem, the chemical sector of the French multinational Elf Aquitane, which five years later became the owner of 81% of the shares. Since July, 2006, Zuid-Chemie is part of Rosier S.A. and on 14 September 2009 the name Zuid-Chemie B.V. changes into Rosier Nederland B.V.

Nitrogenous fertilizer manufacturers

In 1920 the first coking plant of the Dutch States Mines (DSM) was started, The gas which was released during this process was used from the very beginning for the manufacture of by-products for the chemical industry, such as ammonia. In 1930 the Stikstofbindingsbedrijf (nitrogen fixation plant) of the State mine Maurits became operational. This plant produced ammonium sulphate fertilizer with the gas from the coking plant and grew into the most important subsidiary business of the State Mines. After the second World War the demand for nitrogenous fertilizers grew so quickly that the coke oven gas production could no longer supply sufficient hydrogen for the manufacture of ammonia. Other manufacturing processes were developed, such as the complex process developed at DSM for the new high-grade fertilizer urea. From coal, DSM made products which include caprolactam, an important raw material for synthetic materials. During this process five times as much by-product in the form of ammonium sulphate is produced as caprolactam. This ammonium sulphate was marketed as a fertilizer. DSM built a new sulphuric acid plant in Geleen, for which tankers with sulphur were brought in from Rotterdam. Besides DSM Agro also produces on the same site the nitrogen fertilizer: calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) since 1932. In 1929 Shell and Hoogovens jointly set up the Maatschappij tot Exploitatie van Kooksovengas (MEKOG) in IJmuiden. In 1961 MEKOG merged with the Albatros Superfosfaatfabrieken to become 'Verenigde Kunstmestfabrieken MEKOG-Albatros (VKF). (For this, see also the paragraph on this regarding 'Phosphate fertilizer manufacturers") Together with BASF, VKF founded the Ammoniak Unie in 1961, which built an ammonia production plant in Pernis. VKF and the fertilizer department of DSM were amalgamated in 1972 to become the Unie van Kunstmestfabrieken UKF, which later became a full subsidiary of DSM. The production facility of MEKOG is now a part of DSM Agro B.V.. The ammonia production facility in Pernis was taken over by Kemira Oy and was a part of Kemira Agro Pernis B.V.. In 1930 the Italian company Montecatini set up 'La Compagnie Néerlandaise de l'Azôte in Sluiskil'. This name was changed to Nederlandse Stikstof Maatschappij NSM in 1964. In the fifties and sixties NSM expanded considerably and opened a large urea plant in 1971. In 1979 NSM was acquired by the Norwegian company Norsk Hydro. Since 1989 it bears the name Hydro Agri Sluiskil B.V. and is currently the largest producer of single fertilizers in Western Europe. On 25th March 2004 Hydro Agri’s fertilizer division received its own quotation on the Oslo Stock Exchange. Since then the name Hydro Agri Sluiskil changed into Yara Sluiskil B.V.

Esso Chemie established a nitrogen fertilizer production unit in 1968 in Rozenburg. In 1985 Kemira Oy had acquired the company which continued operation under the name Kemira Rozenburg BV. Due to overcapacity on the nitrogen fertilizer market, gradual declining demand in Europe and consistent large volumes of imports was Kemira Agro forced to cease production of ammonia, urea, CAN and UAN at Rozenburg.

Sources:

  • "Windmill, Wieken naar de Wind gekeerd" by Dirk de Wit (1990), ISBN 90-9003352-1, published by Hydro Agri Rotterdam B.V.
  • "Thirty-Five Years of Nitrex AG" by: Th.P. van Berkel (1997), published by Nitrex AG, Hochhaus zur Palme, Bleicherweg 33 in Zurich, Zwitserland.
  • "The Fertilizer Industry of the European Union", brochure of the European Fertilizer Manufacturers' Association in June 1997.
  • "Delfstoffenwinning en Chemische Industrie - een geschiedenis en bronnenoverzicht" by J. ten Hove (1993), ISBN 90-71617-57-2, published by het Nederlansch Economisch- Historisch Archief in Amsterdam.
  • "www.kemira.com"


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