Is it time to continue to sit and wait?


  • India’s urea tender was larger than expected but still not enough to soak up all the length out there.
  • This will likely push prices lower in the December Indian urea tender.
  • NOLA barges were also lower last week. The overall outlook is volatile with a weak market in the short term due to a lack of demand.
  • In Western Canada, delivered urea prices continued to move sideways on light business.

Commentary from Green Markets


A huge procurement order from India dominated the global urea market this week. The state-owned National Fertilizers Ltd (NFL) issued letters of intent to buy 1.47 million mt of urea from its recently closed tender. The company booked 873,000 mt for West Coast deliveries at US$573/mt CFR and 597,150 at US$578.77/mt CFR for East Coast arrivals. Initially, NFL had indicated it was ready to buy 800,000-1 million mt if the price was right. At the time, only a slight dip was expected from the US$649-$655/mt CFR set in the IPL October tender. Once the new prices came in, India’s Department of Fertilizers ensured that NFL had the funds necessary to buy as many tons as possible of the 2 million mt on offer.

Sourcing for the order is spread quite widely. Gulf producers are set to provide the single largest amount of about 390,000 mt, while a surprising 250,000–300,000 mt is expected from China, almost double the number initially estimated. Other sources estimated by industry watchers include Helwan and MOPCO of Egypt each supplying 50,000 mt; one cargo from Nigeria; four cargoes from the Baltic; two each from Indonesia or Malaysia; four from Algeria; and one from Georgia.

Even as the industry was absorbing the size of the order, there are already talks of another big tender from India. Inside sources say the state-owned Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers Limited (RCF) is readying for a tender to be called sometime in the first half of December. The large import orders are a result of less than expected domestic production. With reports of shortages from several parts of the country, urea stockpiles remain a sensitive political issue in India, as well as one of critical importance for final crop output.

If a December tender is called, prices are likely to be marginally lower than the NFL tender, largely due to the absence of any other major buyer in the market at that time. The United States and Brazil, two major urea players, are not expected to get into the act for imports until the first quarter of the new year. Further, sourcing for the December tender from India may not include a strong showing from the Gulf countries, since many of them have long-term contracts that will need to be filled during the January shipping period expected from the tender. Sources suggested the main suppliers will be Nigeria, North Africa, FSU states, and possibly Iran.


Buyers and sellers in Brazil kept a wary eye on the Indian tender. The initial reaction after reports India would pick up 1.4 million mt — and later 1.47 million mt — was of concern, because it was seen as cornering the extra stocks available in the market, which could have pushed up the prices.

Talks about a second Indian tender further raised concerns that India will be picking up large quantities of urea in January 2023, just as Brazilian buyers will be entering the market. However, despite concerns about a potentially tighter market, urea prices slumped to US$548-$580/mt CFR. Demonstrations by truck drivers related to the results of the October presidential elections in Brazil are raising concerns in interior parts that the blockages may raise uncertainties about urea supplies for the 2023 second crop. However, for now the demand is low enough so as not to jack up the prices.


Commentary from Argus

Ammonia spot prices continued to stay down on slower European demand with a sale in Antwerp at US$60/mt lower than the last done business. Market participants are now waiting for the next Tampa contract to settle before finalizing positions for the rest of the year. European imports are estimated at 300kmt in November, down 220kmt from October on increased production output. The overall outlook is for continued supply optionality, which is expected to further push down global prices.

In the urea market, the Indian tender continued to be the news. With the speculation about a second Indian tender in December, European buying continues to be hand to mouth due to expectations that prices will fall further. NOLA barges were also lower last week. The overall outlook is volatile with a weak market in the short term due to a lack of demand.

In phosphates, there was an increase in business in India and Brazil. India bought 100kmt of DAP and MAP. MAP prices slipped only US$5/mt in Brazil. DAP barges in the US were also down slightly on a shortened trading week. The overall outlook is stable then soft.


North America Urea Last Two Weeks

Most of last week was a fairly quiet NOLA barge market, even though prices reportedly dropped to US$490-US$520/st FOB as compared to the previous week’s US$505-US$530/st FOB.

This week, NOLA urea prices continued to weaken in early-week trading, with new trades quoting about USD$40/st below the week-ago USD$490-$520/st FOB range

Last week, the spread between low and high urea prices were the stagnant through the week in Western Canada. Sources quoted delivered pricing in the C$1,040-$1,060/mt range.

This week, urea prices as reported by Green Markets in Western Canada were stable week-over-week with little trade reported. Not surprising given the time of year.

That said, a major distributor dropped prices again by C$10 week on week.


North America Phosphate Last Two Weeks

According to Green Markets, a truck-load of DAP posted at US$770/st FOB Central Florida last week, steady from the prior report. MAP maintained a premium to DAP at US$790/st FOB, also unchanged

from the week-ago. Central Florida phosphate producers reported as sold out of DAP and MAP for loading through the first half of December. MAP trucks loading from North Florida continued at US$820/st FOB for the week, unmoved from one week earlier. Prices are expected to soften in the next round of business.

Players described continued erosion in the NOLA barge phosphate markets during the week, shortened by holidays. Price disparities between DAP and MAP were also noted easing on Nov. 22. Nearby DAP barges were seen tracking down to US$635/st FOB during the period, below the prior US$640/st FOB floor, while players noted the top of the weekly market at US$640/st FOB, down from US$665/st FOB in the prior report.

Players pegged MAP barges at a general US$640/st FOB high during the week, slipping from US$650/st FOB reported previously, while the product’s low continued to ping closer to US$630/st FOB, unmoved from last check.

Due to the combined effect of the upper Mississippi River’s seasonal navigation shutdown and ongoing logistical hurdles resulting from low water levels on the lower river, material stationed upriver was understood to maintain a premium over tons loading from NOLA.

This week, the NOLA DAP/MAP market was quiet, with no new trades reported, though prices have been drifting lower in recent weeks.

Last week, delivered MAP prices in Western Canada was flat week-over-week again in a range of C$1,235-$1,270/mt FOB in Western Canada.

This week, MAP prices softened in Western Canada as well. New delivered pricing was confirmed at C$1,140-$1,180/mt in the region, down from the prior C$1,235-$1,270/mt DEL range.

Industry Tidbits

  • New winter fill pricing for anhydrous ammonia in Western Canada was quoted in a broad range at C$1,350-$1,595/mt DEL, down sharply from the last reported prompt fall pricing in the C$1,600-$1,800/mt DEL range.
  • As expected, the Tampa ammonia price moved down for December. Business for the month was concluded at USD$1,030/mt CFR, down USD$120/mt CFR from November’s USD$1,150/mt CFR. Market participants had expected a lower price based on increased production in Europe as well as lower international prices.
  • Members of the nation’s two largest railway unions held conflicting votes on the tentative labor contract with major Class I freight railroads on Nov. 20, increasing the likelihood of a strike or work stoppage that could happen in less than two weeks unless US Congress intervenes.
  • The Kahkewistahaw First Nation held a press conference on Nov. 17 in front of the Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Sask., to discuss issues it has with both The Mosaic Co. and the Province of Saskatchewan. Chief Evan Taypotat said Mosaic has failed to meaningfully engage with the nation while extracting billions of dollars worth of potash from the nation’s traditional territory over many years without meaningful benefit to the nation.