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 Q2 2020
With the coronavirus outbreak hurting economic activity in key import markets, many manufacturers in the Middle East and southeast Asia struggled to place surplus volume, even when offering cargoes at attractive prices. Most producers decided to ride out the downward price storm and protect market share, rather than cut capacity or launch turnarounds. In a rare move, Saudi major Ma’aden even sold a large spot cargo west of Suez to Moroccan phosphates major OCP Group.
A slump in demand from the chemicals sector in China, South Korea, and Taiwan, especially producers of capro and ACN, capped spot activity and saw contract prices fall throughout the period. Spot cargoes were eventually sold at big discounts on a CFR basis to buyers in China, India, and South Korea. Traders also secured a steady flow of FOB volumes from manufacturers in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Availability from the Black Sea jumped significantly in early May as lower natural gas prices in Ukraine were a catalyst for a surge in exports. The volume from Ostchem, OPZ, and Dnipro totalled at least 35,000 tonnes/month and was snapped up by Trammo in a series of spot deals for loading at Yuzhny. Spot cargoes were also sold by CF Fertilisers UK, EuroChem, and Borealis involving material from the UK, Russia and France, respectively.
Demand was stable to soft throughout the quarter as major chemicals producers in northwest Europe adopted a cautious approach to spot business due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Lower natural gas prices meant most producers kept plants running despite falls in international prices due to global oversupply. Turkey was a popular outlet for spot cargoes, with Gemlik among the most active buyers, with spot CFR cargoes also sold into Bulgaria, Greece and Norway.
Canadian major Nutrien set a bearish tone in early May with a minimum 12-week shutdown of one its four 600,000 tonne/year units at Point Lisas in Trinidad. The move was in response to weak international prices and relatively high natural gas costs, with the delayed restart of a second Nutrien plant after an unscheduled shutdown in mid-June reducing further the island’s export availability.
Import demand from buyers in Mexico, Chile, Brazil was mainly unchanged quarter on quarter, with a regular flow of cargoes from producers in Trinidad to agricultural and industrial companies. Amid all the contract shipments, only a handful of spot deals were confirmed. Fewer contract cargoes headed to the US due to weak demand from agricultural users.
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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