Phosphoric Acid, Phosphates & Fertilizers Experts

Global ammonia prices firm again on flurry of spot sales

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LONDON (ICIS)–In a busy week for the ammonia market outside of the Americas, where business was limited ahead of Thanksgiving, contract and spot prices firmed in most regions as buyers sought to secure cargoes.

The market remains fundamentally tight for December loadings, although the imminent resumption of export activities at Sorfert Algeria’s export unit, and the mid-December restart of the SAFCO 4 plant in Saudi Arabia should help ease the supply squeeze in early 2018.

Despite a shortage of tonnes in the Black Sea and Baltic, around a dozen sales were concluded, with cargoes acquired in North Africa and the Arabian Gulf at $330/tonne FOB (free on board) Egypt and $340/tonne FOB Bahrain/Kuwait, respectively.

Trammo was behind both of those deals and was also highly active in India, where it sold two spot parcels and was awarded Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore ‘s 17 November tender for a pair of 7,500 tonne January deliveries at $375/tonne CFR (cost and freight) Kochi (Cochin).

In Asia Pacific, attention was focused on Korea and Lotte Fine Chemicals’ (LFC) announcement of its preferred supply partners for 2018: Koch, Mitsui, Mitsubishi, and Trammo.

Each of the quartet will supply 50,000-150,000 tonnes to Ulsan, while a further 200,000 tonnes will come from Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma’aden).

Compatriot Namhae Chemical Corporation had been expected to name its preferred ammonia suppliers for 2018, but a company source on Friday confirmed that announcement would arrive early next week.

There are suggestions the chemicals group will choose Koch, Mitsubishi, PETRONAS and Yara as their partners for a combined 550,000 tonnes for discharge at Yeosu.

Elsewhere in the region, Yara sold a cargo to Orica in Australia, and Trammo agreed a small deal with Philphos, of the Philippines, at around $370/tonne CFR Isabel.

Meanwhile, BASF China is understood to have secured up to 75,000 spot tonnes from PCS on a formula CFR basis, with the first 25,000 tonne cargo leaving Trinidad earlier this week.

Neither side has commented on the deal, but BASF has been highly active in the spot market in recent weeks as is seeks feedstock for operations at Zhanjiang.