Dutch fertilizer group OCI NV posts solid rise in Q3 sales volumes

11 November 2013 17:08  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Improved operating rates at its Egyptian manufacturing plants and the long-awaited start-up of the $2bn (€1.5bn) Sorfert ammonia and urea plant in Algeria helped generate a double-digit year on year rise in sales of nitrogen-based products at fertilizer group OCI N.V., the Netherlands-based company said on Monday.

The Geleen-headquartered company revealed in a trading update that it sold 1.49m tonnes of nitrogen fertilizer products in the July-September period, up 16.6% from the 1.28m tonnes sold in the previous quarter and 10.6% up on the 1.35m tonnes sold in the year-ago quarter.

"Fertilizer sales volumes were primarily driven by an 83.5% recovery in urea sales [to 378,000 tonnes] and a 15.7% increase in ammonium sulphate (AS) distribution and sales [to 419,000 tonnes] during the quarter as compared to Q2 2013," OCI said. The company sells AS but does not produce it.

It added ammonia sales climbed 17.2% quarter on quarter to 347,000 tonnes, which was 8.8% higher than the year-ago period and revealed sales of urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) advanced 2.8% quarter on quarter to 109,000 tonnes, a volume that was 73% higher than Q3 2012.

The only product to suffer a fall in sales during the period was calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) which slipped 13.9% quarter on quarter to 236,000 tonnes, down 35.9% from the year-ago quarter.

"The recovery in production rates [in Egypt] has offset the recent softening of nitrogen-based fertilizer prices with the exception of nitrates. We continue to set targets for continued recovery in production rates from our Egyptian plants and are encouraged by strong operational performance at the Sorfert plant in Algeria," OCI added.

The firm said operating rates at the group's plants in Egypt, Egyptian Fertilizer Company (EFC) and Egypt Basic Industries Corporation (EBIC), ramped up to 62.9% and 53%, respectively, in the third quarter versus 40.5% and 32.6%, respectively, during the second quarter.

OCI said this increase reflected "the recovery of natural gas supply following the amendment of EFC’s natural gas contract with Egyptian Natural Gas Company (GASCO) and Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) in August, and an agreement in principle regarding EBICs natural gas contract. In October 2013, utilisation rates further improved to 89.6% at EFC and 68.1% at EBIC.

"Sorfert commenced commercial operations of its urea line in August and its merchant ammonia line in September. Sorfert sold a total of 28,700 tonnes of urea and 15,000 tonnes of ammonia during the third quarter," it concluded.

Melamine third-quarter sales volumes were mostly flat from the previous quarter at 35,000 tonnes but down by 15.1% from the same period last year.

($1 = €0.75)

By: Richard Ewing
+44 208 652 3214

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