Summer slowdown triggers lull in ammonia activity

10 August 2012 17:19  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Planned ammonia plant turnarounds in the Black Sea, natural gas curtailments in Trinidad and the main summer vacation period in Europe and the US contributed to a noticeable lull in ammonia activity in early August, sources said on Friday.

Following recent rollovers in Tampa, in the US, and Yuzhny, in the Black Sea, for August at $690/tonne (€559/tonne) CFR (cost and freight) and $600/tonne FOB (free on board), respectively, market momentum has quietened due to a combination of factors.

Supply remains tight due to a 20% curtailment in natural gas deliveries to ammonia producers in Trinidad, annual plant turnarounds at production facilities in northern Europe and output issues at two ammonia plants run by Qafco in Qatar.

While Finland-headquartered producer NF Trading forecasts production cuts of 60,000-70,000 tonnes due to plant turnarounds, some of that loss should be offset by trader Agrofertrans (AFT) which is set to have 50,000 tonnes of Odessa Port Plant (OPZ) ammonia available following the end of its June-August supply contract with Transammonia.

In the Caribbean, the decision made by the National Gas Company (NGC) of Trinidad and Tobago to trim supplies to ammonia producers by a fifth this month are an unwelcome prelude to the previously-announced 30% curtailment for all of September.

On the demand side, despite the deterioration of US corn crops because of the severe drought, demand for fall application appears strong with estimates of a 2013 crop of 96m-100m acres.

East of Suez, demand pressure has eased slightly because of reduced industrial activity in Asia, with the ammonia market now characterised as balanced-to-tight, supporting firm prices.

With considerably more upward than downward pressure on prices, European producers’ price ideas for September could nudge up to $610/tonne FOB Yuzhny as they prepare to open negotiations with buyers over the next few days. Any increase in Yuzhny price would push Tampa to $700/tonne CFR (cost and freight).

($1 = €0.81)

By: Richard Ewing
+44 208 652 3214

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