The ammonia markets are covered by ICIS weekly in the global The Market report as well as regionally in the US and in a combined Europe and Asia report. Our reliable and trustworthy publications provide you with an up-to-date overview of market activity gathered by our locally based reporters. In the US, spot prices are quoted in New Orleans and Tampa, while the Europe and Asia publication gives assessments for northwest Europe, north Africa, Yuzhny, Taiwan, South Korea and India. Our news and analysis give the reader information that allows business decisions to be made with confidence.
The commentary includes demand and supply trends, production news, shipping enquiries, regional activity and any other key factors influencing market prices at the time. There is also a monthly price forecast and analysis global publication, Outlook Ammonia.
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Ammonia: Market overview
Updated to Q2 2018
The imminent start-up of the new PAU ammonia plant that will provide Mitsubishi with around 660,000 tonnes/year of ammonia means all eyes will be on Indonesia in the coming weeks. Due to come on-stream shortly, the $830m facility will pump more material into an already oversupplied market. No turnarounds have been disclosed by other producers in the region, while scheduled maintenance at Middle East plants run by QAFCO and Ma’aden might squeeze supply for Indian buyers during April, but no wider impact is expected.
With no confirmed spot business for April or May delivery to Taiwan or Korea heard at the start of the quarter, suppliers are expected to target India and China instead. Malaysia’s PETRONAS sold 25,000 spot tonnes to Yara at $303/tonne CFR basis for April discharge in Thailand, while the downward price trajectory in India is expected to tempt more buyers out of the shadows.
Suppliers in the Black Sea and north Africa who all serve customers in Europe have yet to disclose their production plans for the second quarter, but general sentiment is run rates will have to be eased to match soft demand. With plenty of tonnes heading to Antwerp and northwest Europe from the Caribbean, capacity cuts at Russia’s Togliatti and Algeria’s Sorfert, among others, are considered likely by market participants.
Apart from the usual purchase tenders from Turkish buyers, little spot demand was noted at the start of the second quarter. With spot activity limited during the first quarter, spot demand from India is expected to emerge sooner rather than later, albeit most probably at favourable prices for buyers. Scheduled plant shutdowns in Qatar and Saudi Arabia are unlikely to have much impact on the supply/demand balance given the number of suppliers seeking to place FOB or CFR tonnes.
Given the relatively stable production levels, and with the recent disruption in Trinidad said to be close to a conclusion, the volume of ammonia to be manufactured domestically and imports arriving during the period should keep the US supply balance stable as the planting period advances over Q2.
"Given the weather delays in starting the crop season there is anticipated to be a surge in additional demand as soon as conditions turn more favourable.
The lag in starting will result in a more compacted period and there could see some applications deferred to after the crops emerge, with side-dressing runs later in the quarter potentially growing if farmers find conditions not prime for inputs when sowing the corn acreage.
While plantings of this crop may be reduced the still large amount of acreage forecasted bodes well for levels of consumption over the next three months."
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Ammonia news & analysis
ICIS launches Global Ammonia Markets General Methodology Consultation more >>
ICIS price assessments are based on information gathered from a wide cross-section of the market, comprising consumers, producers, traders and distributors from more than 250 reporters world-wide. Confirmed deals, verified by both buyer and seller, provide the foundation of our price assessments.
Our in-depth market knowledge drives our specialist focus, as we recognise the importance of individual market dynamics and not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Over 25 years of reporting on key chemicals markets, including Ammonia, has brought global recognition of our methodology as being unbiased, authoritative and rigorous in preserving our editorial integrity. Our global network of reporters in Houston, London, Singapore, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Mumbai, Perth and Moscow ensures unrivalled coverage of established and emerging markets.
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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