DAP sales thrust North Africa producers back in the market

27 January 2012 12:52  [Source: ICIS news]

Fertilizer use to riseLONDON (ICIS)--Absent North African phosphate fertilizer players have returned to the market with a clutch of sales into Europe and Latin America, market sources said on Friday.

Troubled Tunisian producer Groupe Chimique Tunisien (GCT) sold its first diammonium phosphate (DAP) cargo since government protests shut down its plants at the end of November.

The 30,000 tonne sale to Italy in the $600–605/tonne (€456-460/tonne) FOB (free on board) range will be shipped in early February.

The deal marks a return to the market for GCT, with the expectation that further sales will follow as production rates are ramped up.

Production capacity for GCT’s main facility at Gabes is 1.3m tonnes/year of DAP and 405,000 tonnes/year of 54% merchant-grade phosphoric acid.

“Production is moving up to 50% on the second DAP line at the Gabes plant,” said a GCT spokesperson.

“Demand from Europe is coming and we are in talks with other customers. But buyers are looking only to re-stock warehouses and stronger demand will only come when prices have stabilised.”

Similarly, Moroccan producer Office Cherifien des Phosphates (OCP) has made sales into Europe and Latin America.

OCP joined US producer Mosaic and Russia’s PhosAgro in production cutting moves to support sharply declining DAP export prices, which had been undermined by an absence of business for almost two months.

OCP’s DAP output is being reduced by 30% – or around 250,000 tonnes – during the first quarter of 2012, but emerging European demand and the threat of import restrictions into Argentina have provided some relief.

OCP sold a 25,000 tonne cargo in a range of $585–595/tonne to France, Italy and Spain, and the producer expects to be awarded 50,000 tonnes under a recent Ethiopian tender.

“We still need the official announcement from the Ethiopia government but our offer was the lowest,” an OCP spokesperson said. “But we are back in the market.”

Combination DAP and monoammonium phosphate (MAP) cargoes totalling 50,000 tonnes were sold by OCP earlier this month to Argentina ahead of a rigorous and possibly lengthy government-imposed registration procedure that comes into force on 1 February.

This week, the Moroccans sold another combination DAP/MAP cargo at around $570/tonne CFR (cost and freight) to joint-venture partner Bunge in Brazil.

Although there is optimism that the North African sales, coupled with a steady flow of DAP from Russia, will steady export prices into Europe, market sources elsewhere sounded a note of caution.

“The markets in Central and Latin America, as well as Europe, will be quiet for the next few weeks,” warned one source. “Will there be enough business to cover the next 40–60 days before the US domestic market picks up ahead of the spring application?”

($1 = €0.76)

For more information on phosphates and other fertilizers, please visit ICIS pricing fertilizers
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By: Karen Thomas
+44 208 652 3214

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