Urea Prices, markets & analysis
If you buy or sell Urea or related products, you need up-to-date global pricing data and the background information to help you understand it.
Our network of price reporters across Asia, Europe and the US enables us to deliver this. We publish their insights in our comprehensive daily and weekly price reports, plus we offer the news and analysis you need to put pricing information into context.
ICIS Urea overview
Urea is a key nitrogen fertilizer and a truly global product. Its price is extremely volatile and the product is highly traded and can see dramatic price swings on a regular basis, because of this, the accurate prices provided by ICIS are key to the market.
The key feedstock is natural gas via ammonia. Urea also has important relationships with crop prices such as wheat and corn.
Urea can also be used in the industrial sector to make UF resins, to make melamine; to make adhesives and paints. And for laminates, moulding compounds, paper and textiles.
Urea occurs as white crystals which absorb water. These are either odourless or have a slight smell of ammonia. Urea is not considered to be harmful at normal temperature, but the dust may irritate the skin, eyes and nose.
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Urea news and market information products from ICIS
We offer the following regional Urea analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Urea marketplace.
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Breaking news of latest developments affecting the markets.
Insight and analysis of factors driving prices.
Urea: Market overview
Updated to Q4 2014
The global urea market has softened moving into the fourth quarter of 2014 on the back of slow demand, but there are some signs that could point to a pick-up later in the quarter.
India recently purchased 1.8m tonnes for shipment up to 10 November, and Ethiopian demand is covered after a recent tender. With this demand covered for the time being, plus the absence of demand from the US, Europe and Brazil, prices have come under pressure.
Buyers are in no hurry to make purchases, although at the same time producers also appear comfortable for the short term and are also not under pressure to make sales. The outlook for the coming weeks is likely to depend on whether the buy or sell side needs to make the first move.
Supply side issues could limit availability over the coming months and put upward pressure on pricing. At the start of October the Ukrainian government banned fertilizer producers from using domestic natural gas or gas from underground storage, and only imported gas can be used. This is expected to mean that Ukrainian urea supply will probably cease unless producers can procure gas from Europe or an agreement can be found soon with Gazprom for Russian gas.
There are also some expectations that Egyptian urea production could continue to be hampered by gas supply issues over the coming months, although operations were slowly returning to normal in early October after a number of gas outages in previous months.
On the demand side, Brazilian buyers are expected to step into the market soon, while Europe is expected to start purchasing as the next season approaches.
Further demand is also anticipated in Asia, with Bangladesh due to close tenders for a total of 200,000 tonnes of urea in October, Pakistan expected to tender for up to 415,000 tonnes for the remainder of 2014/2015, and expectations a further Indian tender will be seen before the end of the year.
News & analysis
Urea news & analysis
ICIS launches Global Urea Markets General Methodology Consultation more >>
ICIS price assessments are based on information gathered from a wide cross-section of the market, comprising consumers, producers, traders and distributors from more than 250 reporters world-wide. Confirmed deals, verified by both buyer and seller, provide the foundation of our price assessments.
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Urea occurs as white hygroscopic crystals, which are either odourless or have a slight smell of ammonia. Urea is not considered to be harmful at normal temperature, but the dust may irritate the skin, eyes and nose.
The major outlet for urea, accounting for nearly 90% of total consumption, is as a fertilizer. Urea is also used in the manufacture of urea-formaldehyde resins, the synthesis of melamine, in adhesives and paints, and for laminates, moulding compounds, impregnating paper and textiles.
Urea is widely traded on international fertilizer markets. There are two main hubs in urea trade – the Black Sea and Arab Gulf. These flows are said to determine the global urea prices.
Urea production involves a two step process where the ammonia and carbon dioxide react to form ammonium carbamate which is then dehydrated to urea. In the process, ammonia and carbon dioxide are fed to the synthesis reactor which operates around 180-210oC and 150 bar pressure.