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Planning progress continues on nitrogen fertilizer plant

JAMESTOWN -- CHS, a supplier of agricultural products, announced Friday that it has applied for air permits for its nitrogen fertilizer plant proposed for the Spiritwood Energy Park.

The permits relate to air emissions from the proposed plant, involve regulatory approval from state and federal agencies, and could take up to a year to process.

"It is a good sign," said Jamestown Mayor Katie Andersen. "They are updating the progress they are making."

CHS last released a progress statement on the planning process in February. At that time, CHS officials were studying the availability of water and natural gas for the project.

CHS said in a news release Friday that it is continuing its FEED, or Front End Engineering and Design, study. The study determines whether the needed raw materials are available and what permits and design will work best for the project. CHS hopes to complete that process by November. At that point a final decision on the plant could be made, with construction possibly starting in the first half of 2014.

"This is the first time they have publicly stated the early 2014 construction start date," Andersen said. "They must be growing more confident in that date."

CHS also said the project's cost has risen from earlier estimates of $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion.

The proposed plant would produce nitrogen fertilizer from natural gas produced in western North Dakota. CHS said the plant's production would be distributed throughout the Upper Midwest and parts of Canada.

The plant is estimated to employ 100 to 150 people when fully operational.

CHS officials did not return calls seeking comment.