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 Q3 2019
Scheduled and unscheduled plant shutdowns and capacity cuts in Saudi Arabia saw a sharp reduction in ammonia export availability from the Middle East towards the end of the quarter. The supply squeeze saw Trammo pay a premium for spot material from the region, with the hike resulting in higher contract prices in several importing countries. Trammo and Mitsubishi agreed several spot deals for Indonesian volumes, while PETRONAS was also active in the spot market.
With Indian buyers conspicuous by their absence, spot procurement focused on China as BASF acquired around 50,000 tonnes of material from suppliers in Egypt and Malaysia for discharge at Zhanjiang. Higher prices in the Middle East due to planned and unplanned capacity cuts kept many other spot buyers on the sidelines, with downstream maintenance at major chemicals groups in Taiwan and South Korea limiting spot demand towards the end of the period.
No major production issues were noted during the quarter except for a couple of scheduled and unscheduled plant shutdowns in Algeria that forced regular buyers Yara and Trammo to look elsewhere for European-bound volumes. Turnarounds at European plants went smoothly, with the lost capacity coinciding with a seasonal lull in demand. The restart of the OPZ plant in Ukraine brought a few thousand tonnes/month into the market. Russian major Togliatti performed contract and spot deliveries to Bulgaria and Turkey.
The import-heavy region of northwest Europe was relatively quiet with few spot cargoes changing hands during the traditionally quieter summer season. Trammo sold tonnes to Grupa Azoty in Poland and Borealis in France, and Yara bought some British parcels from CF Fertilisers UK. Larger cargoes were acquired by Yara from Trammo and EuroChem for delivery to Norway, while southern Europe saw spot material procured for Turkey, Greece, and Italy.
Scheduled plant turnarounds at major ammonia producers in the US and issues with one of Nutrien’s four export-oriented facilities in Trinidad, meant supply was reduced at times. Despite the loss of capacity, export cargoes were sold by CF Industries to Trammo in July and August, with the trader also securing material from the producer in September. CF also sold 15,000 tonnes to Nutrien in September given the Canadian giant’s issues in the Caribbean.
No spot cargoes were confirmed sold for import to the US. Contract material from Trinidad flowed normally into ports such as Tampa, Houston, and Beaumont. Domestic demand was relatively muted on seasonal issues, with market participants biding their time ahead of the traditionally busier Q4 period. The benchmark Tampa contract price fell slightly for July loadings, was settled at a rollover for August liftings, but jumped for September cargoes.
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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