Ammonia

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Ammonia is a key building block for fertilizers and other manufactured chemicals. Capitalise on market opportunities with supply chain data and expert analytics that help you keep track of vast volumes of data. Stay ahead of market movements and interdependencies not only for ammonia, but also for other crop nutrients and related chemicals, with trusted market intelligence and accurate forecasting.

Increasingly, ammonia is being valued as a potential contributor to the energy transition. As a carbon-free, easily dispatchable hydrogen carrier, it enables the cost-effective storage and distribution of large amounts of renewable energy. As such, ammonia is the key to facilitating a secure supply of renewable hydrogen.

To meet this broad spectrum of needs, we engage closely with producers, buyers and traders throughout the supply chain and across several continents. Working independently, we collate and constantly update a comprehensive view of ammonia price movements and supply and demand drivers. Inform your decision-making, with timely insights and accurate data.

Carbon cost-adjusted ammonia price

(Northwest Europe)

The Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) takes full effect in the European Union in 2026 and is expected to impact all aspects of the ammonia market. Manage costs and stay ahead of this evolving market with the ICIS carbon cost-adjusted ammonia price.

Our formula is based on the weekly CFR Northwest Europe Duty Unpaid spot/contract ammonia price, the weekly average carbon spot price from EEX EUA, carbon emission per tonne of NH3 (ammonia) production and free CO2 allocation per tonne of ammonia.

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Ammonia news

INSIGHT: Chem M&A outlook brightens amid surge of deal announcements

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Chemical companies have started the first half of 2024 announcing potential sales and separations of several businesses, which could lead up to busy cycle for mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Sustainability continues to influence M&A decisions, although it will unlikely lead to any large acquisitions. Private equity firms could play a larger role in M&A despite higher interest rates because financial investors have plenty of money. Electronic materials could be another M&A trend because of government incentives for the semiconductor industry. CHEMS EXPECT MORE M&AMore than half of the chemical executives who participated in a survey expect M&A activity to increase in the next 12-18 months, according to Kearney, a consulting firm that conducts an annual report about deal-making in the industry. By contrast, 18% expect M&A activity to decrease, and 32% expect activity to be roughly stable. The sentiment is more positive than surveys from the past few years, said Andy Walberer, partner and global chemicals lead at global strategy and management consultancy Kearney. He made his comments while discussing Kearney's recent M&A report. Part of that optimism comes from the divestment plans and strategic reviews recently announced by chemical companies, he said. Also, executives at chemical companies are no longer contending with the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent supply-chain disruptions. They have the headspace to think about medium- and long-term strategy, he said. SUSTAINABILITY CONTINUES INFLUENCING DEALSSustainability will unlikely lead to high-dollar deals, but it will still be a noteworthy trend, Walberer said. Chemical companies are scrambling to secure supplies of recycled and renewable feedstock. Chemical executives and Kearney have noted the gap between supply and demand for sustainable feedstock. To secure feedstock, companies have been establishing partnerships or acquiring businesses. Walberer expects that trend to continue. In other cases, chemical companies are making sustainability M&A decisions in response to government incentives and regulations, Walberer said. Kearney has seen some companies divest sections of portfolios because of high carbon emissions, Walberer said. PRIVATE EQUITY HAS PLENTY OF DRY POWDERHigher interest rates have made M&A more challenging for private equity firms because of their traditional reliance on debt-financed acquisitions. That said, private equity firms have built up large stashes of dry powder. They could put that money to work without debt, which has become more expensive because of higher interest rates. At the same time, chemical valuations have fallen. "We see PE very active," Walberer said. Walberer noted that financial investors made up 26% of chemical deals in 2023, up from 7% in 2022 and above the historic range of 15-20%. In particular, private equity firms may acquire some of the infrastructure assets that chemical companies are eager to divest. Dow had expressed interest in selling more of its infrastructure after agreeing to divest its rail assets at six sites in mid-2020. Recent and upcoming carveouts could provide private equity firms with more M&A opportunities. In December 2023, Solvay carved out its specialty business, called Syensqo, from its mostly commodity business. DuPont expects to complete its breakup into three companies in the next 18-24 months. CHANGING OUTLOOK FOR EUROPEEuropean chemical M&A experienced a slowdown because of the spike in energy and feedstock costs that followed the start of the war in Ukraine, according to the Kearney report. It should continue declining in the next 12-18 months before a possible rebound. "Amid ongoing challenges, big chemical players are under stress, prompting them to review their business models and restructure," Kearney said in a report regarding Europe. In some cases, the owner of a business may decide to put it on the market after realizing it is no longer a core part of the company, Walberer said. The corporation concludes that it is no longer the best owner of the business and decides to divest it. "There are a lot of good examples of how new owners have been able to improve the performance of the business," he said. DuPont's performance coatings business would later flourish as Axalta Coatings Systems. which was initially sold to Carlyle for $4.9 billion before becoming a publicly traded company. Another example is Nouryon, the surfactants business that was spun off from AkzoNobel. In other cases, the business's performance has suffered because of structural reasons, such as high costs, Walberer said. GOVERNMENT SEMICONDUCTOR INCENTIVES MAY DRIVE M&AElectronic materials could become another M&A trend because of the incentives being lavished by government, Walberer said. The US, China, the EU, Japan, Germany and South Korea are among the countries that created semiconductor incentive programs worth billions of dollars. DuPont's electronics business is one of the three that will break out of the company. That business itself is the product of acquisitions made by DuPont. CHEM M&A ACTIVITY OVER THE YEARSTypically, the value of chemical M&A is $100 billion to $120 billion per year, a level it reached in 2022 and 2023, Walberer said. The COVID pandemic and its subsequent recovery distorted M&A in 2020 and 2021. Values in 2019 and 2016 spiked because of large deals such as the Dow and DuPont merger and Aramco acquiring a large stake in SABIC. ANNOUNCEMENTS IN 2024The following lists some of the major chemical M&A announcements made so far in 2024. February 26: PPG explores strategic alternatives for its architectural coatings business in the US and Canada. It could reach a decision by the end of the third quarter. March 4: Evonik agrees to sell its superabsorbents business to International Investors Group (ICIG). March 13: Trinseo seeks to sell its stake in Americas Styrenics. It later clarified that the entire joint venture is for sale. May 6: BASF plans to sell its idled ammonia, methanol and melamine units in Ludwigshafen, Germany. May 8: LyondellBasell starts strategic review of the bulk of its operations in Europe. May 8: Shell agrees to sell its refinery and petrochemical assets in Singapore to the CAPGC joint venture. May 22: DuPont plans to break up into three companies, including one focusing on electronics and another on water. Insight article by Al Greenwood Thumbnail image by ICIS.

13-Jun-2024

Brazil Petrobras to resume operations at urea, ammonia plant in Parana

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Brazil producer Petrobras announced that its executive board has approved the resumption of operating activities of the fertilizer plant Araucaria Nitrogenados in the state of Parana. The plant has been mothballed since 2020 and the producer said it is now expected to be restarted in the second half of 2025. Located next to the Presidente Getulio Vargas Refinery the operation has a fertilizer production capacity of 720,000 short tons/year for urea and 475,000 short tons/year for ammonia. It can also produce automotive liquid reducing agent.

06-Jun-2024

APIC ’24: Overcapacity weighs on Japan petrochemical production – JPCA

SINGAPORE/SEOUL (ICIS)–Cracker operations in Japan will remain “challenging” this year amid soft demand while capacity expansion in China continues, according to the Japan Petrochemical Industry Association (JPCA). C2 output falls to record low in 2023 Production of five major plastics shrink by around 5% Capacity optimization among industry main tasks “With new cracker capacities being planned in China almost every year at a pace far exceeding demand, the operation rates of domestic crackers are expected to remain challenging,” said a JPCA report prepared for the Asia Petrochemical Industry Conference (APIC) being held in Seoul. The two-day conference ends on 31 May. In 2023, Japan’s ethylene (C2) production shrank 2.3% to a record low of 5.32 million tonnes, as domestic crackers ran below full capacity, JPCA data showed. “The operation rates of domestic crackers have remained below 90% (this rate is said to be the criterion for judging the economic situation) since August 2022 and the monthly operation rate dropped below 80% four times in 2023,” JPCA said. Japan, which was dislodged by Germany as the world’s third-biggest economy in 2023, is projected to post a 2024 GDP growth of around 1.3%, down from last year’s 1.9% pace. In Q1 2024, the economy shrank at an annualised rate of 2.0% as both consumption and capital spending weakened. For the whole of 2023, the country’s total production of five major plastics – namely, linear density polyethylene (PE), high density PE (HDPE), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – declined by an average of 4.7% to 6.02 million tonnes. Japan production of major petrochemicals (in thousand tonnes) Product 2023 2022 % change Ethylene 5,324 5,449 -2.3 LDPE 1,223 1,347 -9.2 HDPE 661 714 -7.4 PP 2,075 2,120 -2.1 PS 564 654 -13.8 PVC 1,496 1,483 0.9 Styrene monomer (SM) 1,428 1,542 -7.4 Ethylene glycol (EG) 264 351 -24.8 Acrylonitrile (ACN) 341 422 -19.2 Sources: JPCA, Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), Japan Styrene Industry Association (PS, SM) and Vinyl Environmental Council (PVC) Domestic demand as ethylene equivalent for the year declined by 11.9% to 3.87 million tonnes, according to JPCA data. “In 2024, there is a risk of a decline in demand due to the deterioration of the global economy, such as price hikes of raw commodities due to supply disruptions caused by several problems,” JPCA said, citing Russia’s prolonged invasion of Ukraine, the Israel-Hamas war, and attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea. “But a certain amount of demand growth is expected due to the resilience of the US and some developing countries’ economy, and the global economy would have a possibility to make a ‘soft landing’,” JPCA stated. Economists are growing more confident that the US – the world’s biggest economy – will be able to post a 2024 growth rate of 2.4%, easing from the actual GDP growth of 2.5% in 2023. China, although beset by a slumping property sector, should be able to post a 5.0% GDP growth, according to the revised forecast by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In the report, JPCA also emphasized the petrochemical industry’s tasks to engage in “green” or environmental-friendly transformation toward carbon neutrality by 2050; to enhance and optimize excess production capacity amid a declining population; to push for digital transformation; and contribute to a recycling-oriented society. “In Japan, demonstration experiments using new process technologies and raw materials that contribute to green activities have begun, such as biomass-based fuel, bio-material-based olefins, ammonia synthesis, and hydrocarbon synthesis,” it said. Focus article by Pearl Bantillo

30-May-2024

PODCAST: All eyes on India as phosphates and ammonia markets see low demand

LONDON (ICIS)–Phosphates prices have been under pressure in India recently, while demand is expected to revive soon. Meanwhile, a lack of ammonia spot demand globally is weighing on the market. Phosphates editor Chris Vlachopoulos talks to senior editor Sylvia Traganida about the state of the phosphates market ahead of the International Fertilizer Association (IFA) annual conference (20-22 May).

15-May-2024

Europe top stories: weekly summary

LONDON (ICIS)–Here are some of the top stories from ICIS Europe for the week ended 10 May. Europe propylene supply rebalancing on derivative restart, cracker issues Propylene spot supply is returning to a more balanced position with a key derivative unit now back on stream and a couple of cracker issues disrupting output. Europe businesses face tough market and regulatory hurdles in long term – LyondellBasell Market conditions in Europe are likely to remain challenging in the long term while changing regulations are increasing costs for businesses, LyondellBasell Industries said on Thursday, after announcing a strategic review for most of its operations in the region. LyondellBasell launches review of European assets LyondellBasell has launched a strategic review of the bulk of its operations in Europe, the producer said on Wednesday, based on its strategy to focus on assets perceived to have long-lasting competitive advantage Chandra Asri aspires to become regional player with Shell Singapore purchase Chandra Asri is looking to develop its presence in southeast Asia and become a key regional player with its purchase of Shell’s refining and petrochemicals assets in Singapore alongside commodities major Glencore, the Indonesia-based firm said on Wednesday. IPEX: April index rises for fourth month in a row on firmer pricing in northwest Europe, northeast Asia The ICIS Petrochemical Index (IPEX) was up 1.5% in April month on month as production constraints continue to push contract prices up across some commodities, mainly in northwest Europe and northeast Asia. BASF puts ammonia, methanol, melamine plants up for sale at Ludwigshafen BASF has engaged plant sale specialists International Process Plants (IPP) to sell idled ammonia, methanol and melamine units located at its loss-making Ludwigshafen site in Germany.

13-May-2024

LyondellBasell launches review of European assets

LONDON (ICIS)–LyondellBasell has launched a strategic review of the bulk of its operations in Europe, the producer said on Wednesday, based on its strategy to focus on assets perceived to have long-lasting competitive advantage. The producer will conduct a review of its European olefins, polyolefins, intermediates and derivatives businesses, driven by its move announced last year to reinvest in its strongest performing operations. "At the 2023 Capital Markets Day, we stated our intent to concentrate our portfolio around businesses with long-lasting competitive advantage and to reinvest around those advantaged areas generating superior returns at meaningful scale. These criteria have not changed," said Lyondell CEO Peter Vanacker. The strategy announced at the 2023 investor day was based around three pillars: prioritizing growth spending on businesses where the company “has leading positions in expanding and well-positioned markets”, growing circular solutions earnings to $1 billion/year by 2030, and shifting from cost controls to a broader idea of value creation. Energy-intensive industries in Europe have been challenged by the sharp increase in gas prices seen since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which remain substantially above pre-war and pre-pandemic norms despite falling dramatically since the nadir of winter 2022. Described by former BASF chief Martin Brudermuller earlier this year as a “systemic” change to the European operating environment, the higher cost of operating Europe has prompted a number of reviews by large global players. BASF is looking to cut €1 billion off the annual operating costs of its Ludwigshafen, Germany, complex. The company tapped plant sale specialists International Process Plants this week to explore the sale of its Ludwigshafen ammonia, methanol and melamine units, idled in 2023 due to high production costs. Dow also announced plans to review underperforming and smaller assets. A significant proportion of any cuts had been expected to land in Europe, although the US major has not given an update on the process since it was announced in early 2023. Indorama Ventures is also currently reviewing six assets out of its "West" portfolio for potential shutdown. While global gas pricing has come down, the cost of shipping gas will always be higher than sending it through a dedicated pipeline, as was the case with the Russia-derived natural gas that made up around half of the EU’s energy consumption prior to the war. As part of its stated intent to continue developing its sustainable and circular business, investments in a commercial-scale MoReTec plant, LyondellBasell's proprietary technology to convert plastic waste into liquid raw materials, and the development of a circularity hub in the Cologne, Germany region, will continue as planned, the company said. “The company will prioritize its investments to align operations with our circularity and net zero ambitions," Vanacker added. "We understand that strategic assessments can create uncertainty for our employees and customers, but we are committed to operate our assets safely and reliably throughout this process." LyondellBasell European prodcution Product Capacity (kt) Ethylene 1,805 HDPE 1,260 LDPE 740 MTBE 810 Polypropylene 2,175 Propylene 990 Propylene Oxide 785 Styrene 680 TBA 970 Update re-leads, adds detail throughout Additional reporting by Graeme Paterson, infographics by Yashas Mudumbai

08-May-2024

Plug Power signs MOU with Allied Green Ammonia for Australian project

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Global hydrogen solutions provider Plug Power has announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Allied Green Ammonia (AGA) to supply electrolyzer capacity for a proposed ammonia facility in Australia. The terms call for up to 3 gigawatts of electrolyzer capacity for AGA’s upcoming hydrogen to ammonia facility with the company stating that the green hydrogen produced by their electrolyzers help decarbonize the ammonia production process. AGA plans to establish a 2,500 tonne per day green ammonia operation with the proposed location at Gove Peninsula seen as being strategically placed to align with Asia trading partnerships. Following the MOU, Plug and AGA plan to enter an agreement to initiate a Basic Engineering and Design Package (BEDP) for the project. The BEDP is expected to advance mid-May of this year, with final investment decision planned for Q4 2025, with the progressive delivery of the 3GW electrolyzer supply slated to begin in Q1 2027. “Ammonia producers have recognized the substantial advantages of cost and carbon reduction through electrolysis-based hydrogen,” said Andy Marsh, Plug Power CEO. “We’re thrilled to sign this MOU and partner with AGA. Our expertise in constructing and operating large-scale hydrogen production facilities and our PEM electrolyzer manufacturing capability to support their 3GW project position us as the ideal partner for this endeavor.” AGA said this agreement is a critical first step and a testament to the alignment of the companies’ respective visions. “This agreement, in light of Plug’s unrivalled expertise and complementary technologies, is a strong vote of confidence in our capabilities and a significant milestone in the planned delivery of Allied Green’s facility, which will be one of the most energy efficient green hydrogen and green ammonia projects globally,” said Alfred Benedict, Allied Green Ammonia managing director.

03-May-2024

Topsoe awarded contract to support study for new US low carbon ammonia plant

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Global technology provider Topsoe has signed a contract with fertilizer producer CF Industries for support on a front-end engineering and design (FEED) study for a proposed low-carbon ammonia plant in Louisiana. Topsoe said it will license its SynCOR ammonia technology to CF which when combined with carbon capture and storage will enable the production of low-carbon ammonia. Currently CF is evaluating development of the plant project in collaboration with ammonia marketer Mitsui & Co. If the project advances, it is intended to create low-carbon ammonia for use as a decarbonized energy source. “We believe low-carbon ammonia helps unlock the door towards a net zero future. Our technology offers a cost-effective route to producing low carbon ammonia while also enabling carbon capture, at industrial proven scale,” said Henrik Rasmussen, Topsoe, managing director, the Americas. “CF and Topsoe have a long-standing relationship spanning many decades and we are proud to extend our collaboration with this award.”

01-May-2024

PODCAST: Chinese and Iranian supply to determine urea trend

LONDON (ICIS)–The urea market is expected to remain subdued as Chinese exports resume over the next few months and given Iranian producers eagerness to move product before any fresh sanctions are imposed. China exports to resume but challenges remain Iran offers over 200,000 tonnes for May India’s return unlikely before June In this podcast, ICIS senior editors Sylvia Traganida and Deepika Thapliyal discuss the global supply and demand situation for urea and ammonia, and the future developments for both products.

23-Apr-2024

Brazil's Petrobras re-enters fertilizers sector with restart at ANSA plant

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Petrobras is to restart its large-scale ANSA fertilizers plant in Araucaria, state of Parana, which has been idle since 2020, the Brazilian state-owned energy major said late on Wednesday. The company did not disclose the date it intends to restart production but said as soon as “next week” technicians would work at the site to establish what repair or upgrading work is necessary to restart the facilities. The facilities are called Araucaria Nitrogenados SA (ANSA), a wholly owned Petorbras subsidiary. They are located next to Petrobras’ Presidente Getulio Vargas Refinery (REPAR). Production capacities stand at 720,000 tonnes/year of urea, 475,000 tonnes/year of ammonia, and 450,000 cubic meters/year of the so-called ARLA urea, an additive added to diesel engines to reduce the emission of polluting gases. “In view of the review of the company's strategic guidelines approved last year, investment in fertilizers production is once again part of Petrobras' portfolio,” said the company. Petrobras new CEO, Jean Paul Prates, was appointed by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in January 2023, when he started his term. Unlike the prior Administration, Lula wants Petrobras to play a more active role in the economy. Lula has repeatedly said Brazil needs to increase fertilizers production to lessen its dependence on imports – the country’s trade deficit in fertilizers is large as its agricultural output has become on of the largest in the world. Agriculture is now a quarter of Brazil's economy. Moreover, the significant producer of fertilizers in the country, Unigel, has paused production on two large-scale fertilizers plant due to high natural costs while it negotiates with its creditors a debt restructuring. The two plants were a 10-year lease from Petrobras signed in 2019. Meanwhile, Unigel and Petrobras have been involved in negotiations to help the former restart its plants, but an agreement signed in December is now under scrutiny. All in all, the two plants remain idle. This week, Petrobras said its “re-entry” into the fertilizers sector would first focus on “assets that already belong” to it. Front page picture: Petrobras' facilities in Aracaura, state of Parana  Source: Petrobras

18-Apr-2024

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