22 August 1994 00:00 [Source: ICB]
A STRONG PICK-UP in Chinese diammonium phosphate imports, allied with the maintenance by US DAP producers of strict production and inventory controls, has kept DAP prices from declining during the current low buying season and helped produce a noticeably stronger US Gulf/Caribbean ammonia/fertiliser market than in Europe in particular.
Leading US player, IMC Fertiliser, has had its 1.15m tonne/year DAP plant at Taft, Louisiana, down for inventory control since the restart of its 550 000 tonne/year unit at Nichols, Florida, in April. There are now strong rumours that Taft will soon be restarted and Florida shut down again, with the market firm in the belief that IMC will not raise its overall production, in net terms.
DAP prices are currently thought to be in the $175-178/tonne fob Tampa range, although numbers as low as $172/tonne are still being mentioned. Some US players cite the Chinese upsurge in purchasing after two very depressed years as the main reason for the continuing market strength two months after the end of the US fertiliser buying season. The more optimistic assessments put Chinese DAP imports at 800 000-1m tonne/month during May, June and July after volumes around the 300 000-400 000 tonne/month range during the first four months of the year.
Those estimates put the total at well over 4m tonne, heading for 5m tonne plus for the full year if, as expected, imports from August onwards revert to the pre-May pattern. That compares with the 1991 high of 5.2m tonne of Chinese DAP imports, although it is thought double-counting of shipments may have wrongly added as much as 700 000-800 000 tonne to the total to produce this estimate. Purchases in 1992 and 1993 slumped, in typical Chinese cyclical fashion, to around 3m tonne/year, before the current resurgence.
Dr John Douglas, of fertiliser consultancy Douglas Associates of Mobile, Alabama, estimates 500 000-600 000 tonne/month of imports in May-July, anticipating full-year imports of well over 4m but clearly less than 5m tonne for the full-year. With double-counting practices appearing to have been largely eliminated, this year's total could yet exceed the real level for 1991.
Pakistan has signed up for 280 000 tonne of DAP for delivery between September and December, while Iran is thought to be in the market to buy 300 000-400 000 tonne of material during the second half.
For the latest chemical news, data and analysis that directly impacts your business sign up for a free trial to ICIS news - the breaking online news service for the global chemical industry.
Get the facts and analysis behind the headlines from our market leading weekly magazine: sign up to a free trial to ICIS Chemical Business.
Sample issue >>
My Account/Renew >>
Register for online access >>
|ICIS Top 100 Chemical Companies|
|Download the listing here >>|