Ammonia spot prices cool down in Europe, heat up in Asia

02 November 2012 17:27  [Source: ICIS news]

By Richard Ewing

LONDON (ICIS)--Spot sales in the Black Sea and Baltic saw European ammonia prices cool this week, but heated demand from Asia continues to fuel hikes east of Suez as fresh plant turnarounds in North Africa and the Middle East threaten to further squeeze supply in coming weeks.

With no price increases heard at Yuzhny for several weeks, general industry sentiment is the market has peaked for 2012, although robust demand from buyers in Asia could yet force up Yuzhny prices from $650/tonne (€501/tonne) FOB (free on board) as they increasingly look to source European product.

Mitsui was understood to have purchased 23,000 tonnes of Ukrainian product for loading later this month in Yuzhny. While a price and vendor could not be confirmed, the shipment will most likely head to the Asia-Pacific region.

Koch reportedly bought 23,000 tonnes of ammonia at $635/tonne FOB for shipment from Ventspils in Latvia to the US in the next few weeks. That price was down $25/tonne from previous business but is explained by the product apparently being sourced from several suppliers.

Mitsui also paid Mitsubishi a lofty $760/tonne FOB Bontang for a 15,000-tonne Indonesian cargo that will load for Japan and Taiwan in a few weeks.

That higher price comes ahead of imminent turnarounds at key producers in Qatar and Egypt. As a result, next spot business out of the Middle East is seen by producers at $750/tonne FOB – well up on last month’s $705/tonne FOB.

Qafco will shut down its ammonia line one next week for a 20-day turnaround that will reduce output by around 600 tonnes/day. The Qatari producer's ammonia plants five and six are only operating at around 70-80% of capacity and it may have to postpone some scheduled shipments to India.

In Egypt, EBIC-OCI has been told to reduce ammonia output at its plant in the Ain Sokhna industry zone to 60% of capacity from next week to allow work on natural gas supplies to take place.

On 24 November, EBIC-OCI will shut down its ammonia line for at least two weeks for a scheduled turnaround that will roughly halve its six remaining scheduled loadings in 2012.

Further west, natural gas curtailments of 40% to ammonia producers in Trinidad has impacted output rates at leading suppliers like Yara and PotashCorp and reduced ammonia supply to the US Gulf where Yara last week settled November Tampa contracts at $720/tonne CFR (cost and freight) – up $5/tonne from October.

In Australia, Yara Pilbara’s Burrup facility remains offline since September after technical problems delayed its restart following a 21-day turnaround that was due to be completed in mid-October. Yara hopes to restart production by the end of this month at the latest.

($1 = €0.77)

For more on ammonia visit ICIS pricing fertilizers

By: Richard Ewing
+44 208 652 3214

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