The ICIS weekly Urea reports are covered in China, Europe and the US as well as globally in The Market report. For China, there is an extensive coverage of export, ex-works and ex-warehouse prices, and the Europe report concentrates on spot prilled and granular grades in Yuzhny, Baltic, Middle East and northwest Europe, while the US has spot quotes for the US Gulf and Arab Gulf. All these prices assessments are supported by an independent market commentary that includes details of production news, exports, regional updates, demand and supply and any other key influencing factors. This reliable market intelligence can help you to make informed commercial choices.
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Urea: Market overview
Updated to Q3 2017
Urea was still seeing slow demand and weakening price ideas as the market entered the quiet summer period. The Black Sea price was below $190/tonne FOB at the end of June, and the likelihood is that prices will decline further in the coming months.
With the Chinese domestic season ending in end-June/early July, expectations are for export prices to drop and for operating rates to increase slightly.
Suppliers in all regions have availability for July-September and are struggling to find demand. Many suppliers, especially those in Egypt and Russia, maintain that prices are close to a floor while those in Nigeria and the Arab Gulf are seeing lower netbacks from their business in Latin and central America.
CF Industries is now a regular exporter: two new US plants will begin exporting soon and its facility in Bolivia will begin commercial production sometime in July. Iranian material may also be offered at lower rates if there is no fresh tender announcement from India in mid-July, as expected.
No major production cuts from any region have been announced yet, and major demand is only seen from Latin and south America.
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ICIS launches Global Urea Markets General Methodology Consultation more >>
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Urea occurs as white hygroscopic crystals, which are either odourless or have a slight smell of ammonia. Urea is not considered to be harmful at normal temperature, but the dust may irritate the skin, eyes and nose.
The major outlet for urea, accounting for nearly 90% of total consumption, is as a fertilizer. Urea is also used in the manufacture of urea-formaldehyde resins, the synthesis of melamine, in adhesives and paints, and for laminates, moulding compounds, impregnating paper and textiles.
Urea is widely traded on international fertilizer markets. There are two main hubs in urea trade – the Black Sea and Arab Gulf. These flows are said to determine the global urea prices.
Urea production involves a two step process where the ammonia and carbon dioxide react to form ammonium carbamate which is then dehydrated to urea. In the process, ammonia and carbon dioxide are fed to the synthesis reactor which operates around 180-210oC and 150 bar pressure.