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 Q1 2021
Unscheduled plant shutdowns and outages in key regions like the Middle East meant export volumes were limited and spot buyers had no option but to pay significant premiums. Saudi majors Ma’aden and SABIC experienced plant problems that limited buying options, although India’s IFFCO looked to Europe where it purchased a cargo from Ameropa. A planned turnaround at the largest unit operated by Indonesia’s Kaltim was postponed to Q2, while Yara’s export-oriented Australian plant experienced issues.
A rebound in orders for downstream chemicals like caprolactam and ACN saw import demand jump in northeast Asia, with buyers in China, Korea and Taiwan frequently entering the spot market, albeit at high prices. Yara bought and sold several cargoes during the period, as did Fertiglobe and Trammo. Spot demand from Indian buyers was muted.
Despite the unprecedented string of ammonia plant shutdowns on both sides of the Suez in early February, no capacity cuts or unplanned outages were disclosed by leading producers in Europe. Although icy conditions prevented EuroChem from loading Russian material in the Baltic, the manufacturer continued to run its Kingisepp plant. Inventories that were built up were later sold on a spot basis to buyers including Koch. Deals for small cargoes were struck in the UK, Poland and France by various parties.
Spot market activity was mainly focused on the Black Sea port of Yuzhny in early 2021, with several cargoes sold on an FOB and CFR basis. Trammo secured its usual handful of Russian and Ukrainian volumes each month, while Ameropa sold into Turkey, India and Senegal, as well as to Yara. Bullish conditions saw prices surge during the quarter which meant that only buyers who really needed spot tonnes actually entered the market.
The ammonia market experienced severe tightness amid a series of unscheduled plant shutdowns in the US Gulf and Trinidad. In addition to Nutrien’s largest plant on the Caribbean island falling offline for an extended period due to mechanical problems, a large winter storm triggered major production curtailments at plants across Louisiana and Texas in mid-February.
Demand requirements were steady for much of Q1, although industrial and agricultural demand were impacted by sub-zero temperatures in the US Gulf mid-way through the quarter. Unplanned outages at downstream fertilizer and chemicals plants meant some spot material was snapped up by Trammo for discharge in Latin America, while Nutrien and Koch both sourced spot volumes from producers in north Africa and the Baltic amid domestic plant issues.
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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