PRICE VOLATILITY in the forward gas market continues to make spring fertiliser prices hard for manufacturers to set.

But a price has at last been published, albeit only for January, which sets ammonium nitrate above the £150/t benchmark.

While domestic AN now looks expensive at £155-158/t, it should be compared with imported granular urea at £200/t, or urea prills at £210.

But at these times it is wise to remember that fertiliser nitrogen is by far the most responsive input in both grass and arable production and producers should calculate carefully before turning to alternatives.

Although it is impossible to guess actual gas prices for January, the long-term average costs are destined to be higher, certainly above 30p/therm compared with 15 to 20p throughout the 1990s.

Ofgem has reassured domestic users that supplies of energy will continue, even in a “Siberian winter” by, where necessary, stopping big industrial consumers from using gas.

Not only would this reduce supplies of fertiliser but also it would place even more upward pressure on pricing, as re-starting an ammonia plant is a very costly procedure.

Despite this, confidence for the future of the European fertiliser industry is strong.

Kemira GrowHow has followed Yara (formerly Hydro) and become a listed public company with available stock oversubscribed some 12 times by institutional investors.

Both GrowHow and Yara are now free to pursue fertiliser as the core business rather than being a minority product sector in a multinational chemical corporation.

Nitrogen (Domestic) N  (SP5) 34.5%

New season
26.8.8

Imported  urea.

Imported AN Lithuan

Blended
20.10.10 & 29.5.5

Blended
25.5.5

Liquid
Nitrogen,
37kilos/100
litres o
r
29.6%N/t

Jan £157

No supply

£200 granular
£210 prills

£145

£149

From £143

No market yet

 

NPK

Jn

Imported
27.6.6

Imported
32.5.0

Complex 25.5.5

£154

No supplies

No supplies

15.15.20

£153 (Dec)

 

20.10.10/ 27.5.5

£158

 

17.17.17

£158 (Dec)

 

 

Trace elements 0.24.24 TSP (47%P2O5) Muriate of
Potash (60%K2O)
Copper, zinc, selenium,
cobalt Iodine and sodium Per acre pack £11.10
Blended £130-5 £142 rising £131

Ireland

Benchmark prices. Compounds out of season.

Northern
Ireland

Urea, existing stocks only

CAN

24.6.12

aftercut

25.5.5

 

Complex compounds
27.6.6.

 

£155-£160

£130-£134

£160 (anticipated)

£150-£152

£160-£162

 

Republic of
Ireland*

CAN, large price variations

24.2½.10 blend

Urea
Granular, non EU          

27.  2.5 . 5

 

 €195 €190-210 (Russian)
€225-240
€200-250
(dependant on source and quality)
€243 (CCF)
€200 import blend

*Note in the Republic of Ireland nutrients are expressed as elements not oxides.  Analyses will not be directly comparable with those used in the UK.
                  
Note All illustrated prices are based upon 24 tonne loads for immediate payment. Prices for smaller loads and those with credit terms will vary considerably.

 Source: Bridgewater