11 February 2013 14:44 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS)--Ammonia imports to the US jumped 10% year-on-year in volume terms to 586,438 short tons in December 2012, and 19% in value terms year on year to $352.91m (€265m), trade data released by the Fertilizer Institute (TFI) revealed on Monday.
According to the Washington DC-based group, US ammonia imports for the July-December period of 2012 slipped by 5% year on year to 3.47m short tons, but higher ammonia prices meant the value of those imports reached $2.07bn – 10% above the $1.88bn value of ammonia imported in the identical six-month period of the previous year.
A breakdown of the statistics by country of origin reveals Trinidad and Tobago remained the leading source of ammonia for the US, with nearly 347,000 short tons moved to the US in December 2012, up by almost 50% year on year. In value terms, the US imported $201.3m of ammonia from the Caribbean country in the final month of last year, compared with $123.3m in December 2011.
Other key sources of ammonia for US farmers and industrial users included Canada, Russia and Ukraine, which shipped 120,047, 54,928 and 30,975 short tons, respectively, to the US in December. While imports of the nitrogen fertilizer from Canada climbed by around 20% year on year, shipments from the two eastern European countries fell by around 18% and 30%, respectively, from the same period last year.
Venezuela was the only other noticeable exporter of ammonia to the US in December, with just under 26,000 short tons delivered, virtually flat on the same month of the previous year, the data showed.
Ammonia prices in the Black Sea, US Gulf and Arabian Gulf have softened considerably in recent months because of a combination of weak demand from industrial users in Asia and high diammonium phosphate (DAP) inventories in India. Ammonia is a key feedstock of DAP and monoammonium phosphate (MAP).
With ammonia producers and buyers due to commence talks over March loadings this week, the general consensus is the benchmark Yuzhny price of $570/tonne FOB (free on board) is likely to slip again. The price has fallen steadily from the $650/tonne FOB price level agreed for October loadings.
Any future slide in the Black Sea price would put further downward pressure on the key US Gulf price, which major producer and importer Yara settled at $655/tonne CFR (cost and freight) Tampa for February loadings, having reached a yearly high of $720/tonne CFR in November 2012.
($1 = €0.75)
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