Ammonia Prices (Q1 2022)
Shandong liquid ammonia market stopped increasing and steadied on March 28, and pricing was unchanged from the previous weekend at 5000 RMB/MT. There being no inventory pressure in the region, products were sparse, and downstream regular procurement was the primary source of supply. The prices of most big factories remained unchanged in March, and the high costs had influenced some demand, but ammonia supply in the region remained limited. The failure of liquid ammonia production was caused by the conversion of some ammonia firms to urea, further maintaining the high costs. During the first quarter of 2022, supply and demand were evenly balanced.
Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the shutdown of the Black Sea Yuzhny port in February resulted in the loss of Russian exports, which generally account for roughly 4.5 MMT or 20% of global seaborne trade yearly. Sanctions against a number of Russian billionaires linked to fertiliser manufacture shut off much of the supplies from Baltic Sea firms such as EuroChem and Uralchem. Fertilizer major Yara halted ammonia production at its locations in Ferrara, Italy, and Le Havre, France, on March 9, citing record high natural gas prices in Europe. After completing a series of industry-reported deals, including a record high settlement price of the monthly CFR Tampa contract at 1,625 USD/MT, the business stated that it was resuming ammonia production at the two sites.
Ammonia Prices (Q4 2021)
Overall, the market in Asia was optimistic, with robust demand in India to fulfil their needs throughout the rabi crop season, while the outlook for Chinese ammonia in the local spot market remained bullish, thanks to increasing natural gas and coal prices. Furthermore, the influence of Chinese authorities' dual-control energy consumption restrictions to decrease carbon emissions and limit power use prevailed in the fourth quarter of 2021. As a result, some ammonia factories had to reduce their output, causing China's government to outright restrict downstream urea shipments to the foreign market.
The rise in the compound’s prices since the summer months were mostly ascribed to the rise in natural gas costs. Following a rise in the price of natural gas used in the manufacturing process, many companies lowered ammonia production at various factories in Europe from September to November, reducing the overall production in the region. Prices in Europe were the highest in the world as of Dec. 15, at 1,120 USD/MT CFR Northwest Europe while FOB Black Sea, a major source of ammonia for Europe, was 1,055 USD/MT (up 49%). The strong pricing for both ammonia and natural gas feedstock in Europe prompted European customers to search for available spot cargoes in other key ammonia production hubs around the world, such as the Caribbean and the Middle East, causing prices to rise globally.
As a result of Hurricane Ida, several US Gulf nitrogen plants remained offline in October, causing the production to halt. Prices surged in the Midwest, with Koch declaring new levels as high as 1,100 USD/MT FOB at its Corn Belt terminals and plants; a near two-fold increase over prices of 650 to 680 USD/MT in the Midwest recorded at the end of September. CF and other producers and sellers in the region followed Koch's lead, with CF setting a new price of 1,200 USD/MT FOB for overpull delivery amounts in the Northern Plains and Iowa.
Ammonia Prices (Q1-Q3 2021)
The price of liquid ammonia in Shandong rose from around 3,200 RMB/MT at the start of the year to 5,300 RMB/MT in mid-October, a 65% increase. It surpassed a ten-year high. The price dropped to around 4,200 RMB/MT in the last two months of the year, with an overall increase of over 35% for the year. The main reason was that as the domestic epidemic continued to ease, the domestic economy recovered quickly, and its demand grew steadily under the favourable national policy to support the agricultural economy.
In early 2021, domestic agrochemicals firms in Europe had a strong demand for the compound, but supply was inconsistent. Due to high demand and limited availability, dealers were compelled to pay premium prices for it. Later in the year, demand from the nitrogen-based fertilisers sector remained strong enough to maintain the overall price trend. Russian manufacturers' output remained at an all-time high, owing to strong regional and local demand in the fertiliser sector. Furthermore, during early April, the Suez Canal blockade had an impact on ammonia’s regional prices and its downstream derivatives, as supply between Asia and Europe was disrupted for a week.
As the European natural gas prices witnessed a sharp increase in early September, operations of ammonia plants in Europe became increasingly difficult. As a result, BASF reduced its production at its factories in Antwerp, Belgium, and Ludwigshafen, Germany. Similarly, Yara reduced its European production capacity by roughly 40%, including ongoing maintenance optimization. As a result, prices in Europe continued to grow sharply by roughly 300 USD/MT since January 2021. In September, CFR Hamburg prices were 710 USD/MT in Germany.
In June 2020, anhydrous ammonia prices in the United States dipped to 226.50 USD/MT before rapidly rising to 432.50 USD/MT in February 2021. Anhydrous ammonia prices jumped 34% to 580 USD/MT in March 2021. Prices have continuously risen since then, reaching 1,022.50 USD/MT in October 2021, the highest level since 2008. Increase in prices is often linked with natural gas prices. However, natural gas accounted for only 15% of the increase in its price in October. When this increase was subtracted, it was found that ammonia prices followed the trend of corn prices. Corn is a major user of fertilizers, with nitrogen accounting for more than 50% of the cost.
Fertilizer production in Mexico fell 17.6% in the first quarter of 2021, from 0.62 MT in January-March 2020 to 0.51 MT in March 2021, but apparent consumption increased by 3.8% to 1.59 MT at the same time. In March 2021, prices in Culiacán and Navolato had increased by about 20% in only one month, and by nearly 40% from January to March, reaching market highs of up to 14,900 MXN/MT. The increase in price was attributed to factors such as reduced production. At least five factories, including three owned by Norway's Yara were shut down due to increasing natural gas prices, removing a total of 300,000 tonnes of product each month. Alongside, strong demand from fertiliser and other chemical product manufacturers, such as pharmaceuticals and cleaning products, reflected a strong rebound in the prices, forcing traders to pay premiums to ensure cash shipments due to sanitary measures imposed by Covid-19.
Ammonia Prices Overview 2020
In 2020, the average market price of synthetic ammonia in China's key producing provinces was 2,850 RMB/MT, down 7.32% year on year. With the recovery of natural gas supplies and the impact of public health incidents, supply and demand in the liquid ammonia market were both weak in the first half of 2020, resulting in price volatility. Later in the year, fertiliser was utilised for spring ploughing, agricultural demand surged, and prices began to rebound. Furthermore, local supply expanded dramatically as a result of the frequent shutdown of urea facilities in some large factories in the first half of the year. Alongside, the ending of spring season reduced fertilizer supply, dropping the prices further.
After a slight drop in the fourth quarter, the synthetic ammonia market continued to rise. The supply of commodities in Shanxi and other markets increasingly tightened due to atmospheric control and other factors, followed by the deletion of backward production capacity such as fixed beds in Henan, which was mostly executed by the end of December and contributed to the price increase. Recent market tensions have been exacerbated by factors such as power outages and rising coal prices.
The European business was seen struggling with low sales as coronavirus infections wreaked havoc on industrial and agricultural activities. Scheduled turnarounds and unanticipated outages hampered exports, resulting in a drop in its shipments from the Black Sea and Baltic. In September, certain Russian ammonia tankers were booked for South Korea as a more cost-effective alternative to shipping cargo from Trinidad. In July, Russia's total production of the compound reached a new high on a year-over-year basis, with FOB prices hovering at 180-190 USD/MT.
Hurricanes and tropical storms prompted turnarounds at many chemicals and fertiliser plants in 2020. Three Trinidad producers temporarily shut down output in late September, including a 500,000 tons-per-year export-oriented Trinidad Nitrogen Company Limited (Tringen) plant in Point Lisas. Due to the unexpected drop in regional prices, Nutrien was the first to shut down portion of its output. While prices improved significantly in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Russia during mid-2020, the supplies in the Americas remained substantially discounted. Spot prices were estimated to be between 170-180 USD/MT FOB US Gulf.
In early March, the price in Mexico was estimated to be approximately 6,560 MXN/MT. During the pre-planting of corn in the months of October and November, the price remained stable at an average of 10,700 MXN/MT while it dropped by 10% during the peak of planting in December, with the per tonne price being more or less 9,800 pesos.
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Ammonia is a colourless alkaline gas which is one of the most widely available nitrogen-containing compounds in the atmosphere. It is also known as an irritant having a characteristic pungent odour that is typically utilised at a commercial scale. Ammonia is highly miscible in water and, upon inhalation, is deposited in the upper airways.
Chemical Formula of Ammonia:
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