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 Q1 2017
The urea market began the first quarter of 2017 on a firm note with prices in North Africa inching closer to the $300/tonne FOB mark by mid-January, a level not touched since November 2015 in Egypt.
Prices are expected to stay firm with China still concentrating on domestic demand. Good demand is also anticipated from Europe and the US, while Latin American buying is picking up.
Yuzhny availability remains limited to Dnipro. There is talk the OPZ plant may be down for all of Q1 while Baltic cargoes may be limited as Russian producers maximise deliveries to Ukraine ahead of the 1 March deadline for imposition of anti-dumping duties.
The next Indian tender is delayed further, but whenever it does get announced, the tender is expected to lend further support to the market.
It not clear how long prices will stay firm. Start-up of new nitrogen plants in the US and increase in operating rates in China over the coming months could put a halt to price increases in the second quarter of the year.
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Urea news & analysis
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.