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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Insight and analysis of factors driving prices.
Urea: Market overview
The global urea market has firmed over the past few years, as demand for fertilizers has grown on the back of food security concerns. At the same time, continual rises in the price of Russian gas exported to Ukraine have raised production costs and set a higher floor for the benchmark FOB (free on board) Yuzhny urea price.
The demand growth for fertilizer, and therefore urea, looks set to continue. However, with new capacities coming on stream, which moves the market into an oversupply, prices are starting to come under pressure.
Healthy margins and growing demand have encouraged investment in new capacities, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, which benefit from low feedstock gas costs.
Sustained exports from two Qatari units that started up in 2012 are expected. New export-oriented production facilities are coming on stream in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Algeria in the second half of 2013.
Lower-priced shale gas in the US prompts investment in new nitrogen facilities, which could impact on import demand moving forward.
Updated to mid-August 2013
News & analysis
Urea news & analysis
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.