ICIS provides independent and unbiased pricing information, news and market analysis for the global Ammonia market. Our network of price reporters, based in Asia, Europe and the US, deliver local insight for each of these markets, which is published in our individual weekly and daily price reports.
If you buy or sell Ammonia or related products, our reports, news and market intelligence will give you the prices and analysis of the factors driving the prices that you need to make confident commercial decisions.
Updated to Q4 2020
Planned and unplanned plant shutdowns in southeast Asia and the Middle East removed a large chunk of merchant volume and reduced export availability. Indonesian units operated by Kaltim and PT PAU were offline for several weeks. This scenario was repeated in Saudi Arabia where SABIC and Ma’aden experienced production problems. While the latter’s issue was only a glitch, the former’s lost capacity was triggered by a technical failure and lengthy turnaround.
Bar the odd sale into China and India, spot activity was relatively muted, and certainly a lot quieter than in Q3. Seasonal factors and a series of major turnarounds at chemicals plants – particularly capro and ACN – across northeast Asia meant import demand was limited and prices stable. Both Lotte Fine Chemicals and Namhae Chemical Corporation in South Korea renewed their annual supply contracts for 2021, with volumes unchanged from 2020.
As in other major ammonia producing regions of the world, prices in the Black Sea and Baltic firmed in late 2020 as capacity cuts on several continents squeezed supply, forcing traders and buyers to pay a slight premium for cargoes. Export availability from Yuzhny remained decent despite plant maintenance at some manufacturers in Russia and Ukraine. Ample supply in the Baltic saw a combined 200,000 tonnes load for Yara at Sillamae and Ventspils in November-December.
Seasonal slowdowns and the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic on national economies suppressed import demand in most countries. Issues at Lanxess’ Antwerp operations meant fewer import volumes were received, although Yara delivered extra tonnes to its Dutch operations due to production problems at Sluiskil. Along the coast at Rotterdam, OCI sourced spot cargoes from the Baltic, Black Sea and the Caribbean as its Algerian production partner, Sorfert, performed a lengthy turnaround on its export-oriented unit.
The first half of the period saw export availability from Trinidad return to more usual levels as Nutrien ramped up capacity at some of its plants on the island amid an uptick in international prices. In contrast, natural gas curtailments in the final few weeks of the year prompted a one-month shutdown of the 500,000 tonne/year Tringen I unit at Point Lisas. Louisiana major CF Industries loaded a spot cargo for Trammo in December.
Contract cargoes flowed to ports along the US Gulf coast, with only one confirmed spot deal; involving Trammo discharging a combined 25,000 tonnes at Mosaic’s operations in Florida and Louisiana in H1 December. The Tampa contract price firmed throughout the period, increasing from $228/tonne CFR for October loadings, to $255/tonne CFR for December shipments. Agricultural demand was decent, keeping import volumes steady and ensuring sufficient deliveries to farmers in key crop-growing states.
We offer the following regional Ammonia analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Ammonia marketplace.
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Ammonia is one of the main sources of nitrogen in fertilisers, as it contains 82% of nitrogen (N), which is essential for the life of plants. Ammonia (NH3) is produced through a chemical reaction (electrolysis).
Ammonia is a colourless, highly water-soluble gas with an intense, pungent, suffocating odour. It is alkaline and caustic, corrosive to copper and galvanised surfaces and is a powerful irritant. It is soluble in chloroform, ether and is easily liquefied under pressure. Liquid ammonia will attack some forms of plastics, rubber, and coatings.
Ammonia’s major use is as a nitrogen source in fertilisers where it is both applied directly and used to produce derivatives including ammonium nitrate, urea, ammonium phosphates and ammonium sulphate.
Urea plants are integrated with ammonia production as they require the carbon dioxide by-product from ammonia units.
Ammonia also has a number of industrial end uses. Ammonium nitrate is used to make explosives while the medical grade is decomposed to nitrous oxide (laughing gas). Ammonium bicarbonate has applications in baking powder formulations, in fire extinguishers and as a blowing agent in the manufacture of polymers.
Ammonia is used in the production of hexamethylene diamine (HMDA) for nylon, acrylonitrile (ACN) for fibres and plastics, caprolactam for nylon, isocyanates for polyurethanes, and hydrazine.
Other uses for ammonia include as a refrigerant, a cleaning and bleaching agent, and a household cleaner. It is also used in metal treating operations.
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