By Roger Chesher

WITH any announcement of Hydros future UK plans shelved until March, the companys determination to streamline its nitrogen business has been highlighted this week by the announcement of the sale of the Maitland ammonium nitrate plant in Ontario.

Although this Canadian operation produces AN mainly for explosives, together with nitric acid for industrial use, the sale further rationalises Hydro nitrate production worldwide.

While the UK industry talks of little else but the fate of Hydro at Immingham, the market is moving rapidly.

Blenders and majors alike are extremely busy moving compounds and nitrogen to the arable markets, whereas grassland currently lags.

Pressure on transport is still building, especially at merchant level, but the majors, with their contract hauliers, report that they are coping quite well.

The exception is the pressure placed by large new farm orders, which have arisen due to the unavailability of imported material.

This is exacerbated by low availability at the Terra site at Billingham. Terras ammonia plant is still shut down following routine maintenance.

In a nutshell, the supply/demand balance has shifted and ammonium nitrate at 100 plus, if not yet universal, is now reality.

In Ireland the market is reported as “absolutely dead”, which means that one almighty rush is in the offing.

In the North, “old” urea has been traded at 130/t and the market expectation (or manufacturers hope?) is for 27.6.6 about 140/t and CAN at 117/t.

With the difference in currency levels, the north is waiting to see southern pricing levels before commitment in case cross border trade should prove beneficial.

In the far South of Ireland CAN is pitched at IR115/t, with the expectation that the market will trade around IR115-120/t for CAN and IR150-160/t for urea.

CURRENT MARKETS

Immediate delivery N (SP5) March delivery N pay April Imported urea Imported N deliver February Blended 20.10.10 Blended 25.5.5 Liquid N, 37kg/100l or 29.6% N/t
£97-100 – but hurry/FONT> £105 Granular unavailable; prilled 110-113 £84-85 higher quality £100-105 £93-96 £93-98/100,000 litres or £72-76/t

NPK February, pay April
Complex 25.5.5 103-106
20.10.10/29.5.5 February 110-113
17.17.17 February 130-133

N/S (High S) Complex 15.15.20 TSP (47% P2O5) Muriate of Potash (60% K2O)
93-96 125-130 121 121

 

IRELAND

  Imported urea

CAN

0.23.24

0.16.36

Complex compounds

Northern Ireland 130 117 No market No market 140
 

CAN

0.10.20

Urea, imported

0.7.30

Republic of Ireland* 115-120 No market 150-160 No market

*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.

*Prices in the Republic are IR£

 

Note All illustrated prices are based upon 20 tonne loads for immediate payment. Prices for smaller loads and those with credit terms will vary considerably.

Source: Bridgewater Partnership