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 Q2 2017
Global urea prices came under pressure in the first quarter of the year, which has led to expectations that levels could recover in the second quarter as buyers in Europe, US and India return to the market.
Two back-to-back tenders from India have led to expectations that Iranian and Arab tonnes will be committed in April and May, and even include the possibility of some Chinese availability.
Any optimism on prices is, however, muted, with few players expecting a recovery to last long.
There is no sign of any real buying yet. With stocks running high stocks in Europe, there is stiff competition among suppliers, with many saying that March 2017 was the worst month ever for demand.
News of additional capacity coming on stream in the US has done little to lift market sentiment. Agrium started up its new 610,000 tonne/year urea plant in late March in Borger, Texas, while commercial production at the 2m tonne/year Iowa Fertilizer Company (IFCo) is to start sometime in April.
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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.