The global ammonia markets are covered weekly by ICIS in The Market. Our reliable and trustworthy publication provides you with up-to-date market activity. The commentary includes demand and supply trends, production news, shipping enquiries, regional activity and other key factors influencing market prices.
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Ammonia: Market overview
Updated to Q3 2017
The global ammonia market remained fundamentally long during the first half of 2017, and the bad news for producers is that the supply glut and weaker prices show no signs of ending in the first few weeks of the third quarter.
New capacity in the US and decent output rates from plants in Trinidad mean that the loss of material from Sorfert Algerie and Togliatti in Russia during July is unlikely to have much, if any, impact on the supply/demand balance west of Suez.
The benchmark contract prices on both sides of the Atlantic – Tampa CFR (cost & freight) and Yuzhny FOB (free on board) – are unlikely to rebound anytime soon given the amount of surplus material sloshing around the system and buyers’ aggressive price targets.
Plenty of cargoes from the Americas found homes in North Africa, Northwest Europe and even Asia-Pacific during the April-June period, as the likes of CF Industries and Potash Corp sold material outside of their traditional markets.
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Ammonia news & analysis
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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.