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 2020
Maintenance at key plants in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia created a short-term supply squeeze which proved a catalyst for upward price pressure on FOB and CFR levels and hurt buyers’ margins. The impact was felt most in Indonesia where idled units at majors Pupuk Kaltim and PAU forced regular offtakers Mitsui and Mitsubishi to dive into the spot market. As a result, Mitsui and Mitsubishi sourced from farther afield, including Canada, Bangladesh and Trinidad.
With key economies in northeast Asia some of the earliest to return to normality after the coronavirus outbreak, demand from buyers in China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan was steady. Major ACN and capro manufacturers reduced run rates, but there was no significant fall in demand. Spot business by end-users was limited, with cargoes sold into China and South Korea for buyers including BASF and Lotte Fine Chemicals.
Scheduled turnarounds and unplanned outages saw ammonia exports from the Black Sea fall at times. Buyers who regularly source Russian and Ukrainian material from the port of Yuzhny turned instead to manufacturers in north Africa, Trinidad and the US for cargoes to cover contract and spot commitments. Export volumes from the Baltic were mainly steady, although issues at one Uralchem plant in Russia reduced availability for a while.
Demand from industrial and agricultural users across the continent was volatile amid seasonal factors and the impact of the coronavirus on downstream operations. Import demand from major buyers in Belgium slid on unscheduled downtime and capacity cuts at a Lanxess capro plant in Antwerp, although spot activity was brisk in some Mediterranean countries like Turkey and Greece.
Even though hurricanes and tropical storms forced outages at chemicals and fertilizers plants, domestic production was stable throughout Q4. CF Industries sold a combined 150,000 tonnes for export from Louisiana, but the idling of plants in Trinidad because of softer international prices was the main talking point. Canadian giant Nutrien kept two 600,000 tonne/year units offline, and Tringen took the same course of action for its 500,000 tonne/year plant.
An uptick in phosphates demand and prices, combined with stable demand from agricultural and industrial users, saw a steady stream of cargoes flow into the US Gulf. Mosaic entered the spot market at least once, and the key Tampa CFR index rolled over and then increased for the first time in 2020. The cause of the string of export cargoes from CF Industries was never explained, although downstream maintenance was considered the most likely.
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.