An expansion project at Koch Fertilizer is continuing to progress well, according to officials.

Koch Fertilizer and KBR, the Enid fertilizer plant expansion project construction management contractor, report the plant is in the process of commissioning several upgrades and new facilities, including a tertiary water treatment facility.

The plant was able to utilize more than 70 million gallons of tertiary water in January, which greatly reduced its use of the city’s potable water resources.

‘Equivalent of two Devon Towers’

In January, the team hit a “major milestone” with more than 1 million man-hours of work without a recordable injury, according to a statement from Rob Carlton, director of business communications.

As the project nears completion and full start-up, the number of contractors on site will continue to shrink from a November 2016 peak of around 2,800. There are now approximately 1,200 contractors on site daily.

It is expected the majority of construction and commission activities will wrap up in 2017.

State officials say the Koch Fertilizer plant is making the largest capital investment in state history, Enid Regional Development Alliance Executive Director Brent Kisling said.

“This is almost the equivalent of two Devon Towers being built on the east side of Enid, just to put it in perspective,” he said.

Construction workers have made a “huge impact on our local economy,” Kisling said.

A long-term commitment

When Koch Fertilizer started expanding, it was one of North America’s largest fertilizer plants, making ammonia fertilizer and urea fertilizer, he said.

“Through this expansion, they are almost doubling the size of their output, out at that facility,” Kisling said. “It’s good for us for a couple of reasons, that they’ve invested here. One, they could have decided to mothball the plant. Fertilizer production is a very competitive business, and they could have invested elsewhere, and that would have been one of our largest assets in our community gone away. So, thank goodness, they made a long-term commitment to our community. The second benefit to that project is the construction jobs, because that hit at exactly the same time as the price of oil went from $100 to $25. It could have been devastating for our community, not because of the jobs that left from oil and gas, but because of the wealth creation that comes from those royalty checks going to landowners in Northwest Oklahoma that eventually find its way to Enid.

“Having that influx of temporary wealth coming to the area, temporary purchases, has been very beneficial for us, but then the third part is the long-term employment. Adding the extra 60 to 70 jobs way beyond our average wage as a county, and as a community, is going to have lasting effects as well as the ancillary jobs around Koch Fertilizer. A lot of those are trucking jobs, transportation, logistics. Enid is a significant player when it comes to adding value to the natural resource of natural gas in this area because of the Koch Fertilizer plant, and we’re thankful for their investment here.”

A fourth benefit is the company’s philanthropy, he said.

“They contribute to a lot of different organizations, and don’t want their name attached to it. They like to do it below the radar,” Kisling said.

When Enid lost Continental Resources, it lost the company’s philanthropy, he said.

“We’re fortunate that several of our companies have stepped up to fill that philanthropy gap, and Koch is one of the biggest ones in that area,” Kisling said.

Koch Fertilizer will be adding anywhere from 60 to 70 long-term employees at a “very high” wage, well above the county average, he said.

Story by:  Enid News & Eagle
Written by:  Jessica Miller