Fertilizer Market Report – August 23, 2023

China’s Comeback Aids India’s Acquisition in Global Urea Market; Manitoba Funds Study of New Trade Corridor

Great analysis of the global urea market from Profercy. This article does a good job of explaining how the return of China to the urea export market could keep a ceiling on global prices. Buyers could defer purchases until Q4. This lull in demand could push producers to lower prices.

Manitoba Funds Study of New Trade Corridor

The Manitoba government will provide C$6.7 million over the next two years to study the feasibility of the Indigenous-led NeeStaNan Utility Corridor project. The study will assess the viability and level of investment required to establish a trade corridor from Fort McMurray, Alta., to the Hudson Bay Coast of Manitoba, where products could continue through the Arctic.

The total cost of the feasibility study is C$26.6 million, with the Manitoba government providing C$6.7 million over two years, contingent on funding participation from the governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan, as well as First Nations communities. The three provinces signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in April to advance economic corridors and support the movement of products within Western Canada and to various markets.

“This vision of this project is to create an Indigenous-owned corridor connecting Manitoba with other Prairie provinces and support economic development in northern Manitoba,” said Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Doyle Piwniuk.

NeeStaNan would be 100% Indigenous-owned and governed by a Board of Directors. The plan would build a second deepwater port on Hudson Bay near a long-abandoned settlement near the mouth of the Nelson River, according to the Winnipeg Free Press.

The federal government began construction of the infrastructure for Port Nelson over a century ago, but halted construction due to labor and material shortages during World War I. A later evaluation instead chose the deepwater option of the Port of Churchill, hundreds of kilometers to the northwest, which was completed in 1931.

Piwniuk told CBC News that the new project would relegate the Port of Churchill to a regional supply hub rather than as an international port.

NeeStaNan backers say key commodities such as potash, natural gas, wheat, bitumen, and other critical minerals are landlocked in Western Canada, and transported via rail or pipeline through the Rocky Mountains to the West Coast to reach international markets. If built, the NeeStaNan project would reduce shipping distances by 3,500-5,500 km from existing transportation routes to Europe, the US Gulf Coast, and South America, while delivering economic, environmental, and social benefits to First Nation communities.

Consideration of the corridor would explore the potential for bulk cargo shipments via rail and pipeline development to support the future export of liquefied natural gas, interprovincial high-voltage direct current power lines, and communication lines, as well as the expanded port facilities required for the enhanced shipment of mineral and agricultural commodities.

North America Urea Last Week – Western Canada and NOLA Diverge

Urea prices in Western Canada were reported at C$695-C$720/mt FOB and C$680-C$760/mt DEL in mid-August, up from the previous C$635/mt FOB and C$665-C$680/mt DEL levels.

NOLA urea for August-September fell to US$350-US$370/st FOB during the trading week, down from last week’s US$355-US$395/st FOB. Limited prompt August trades were reported in the US$365-US$370/st FOB range, with September business at US$350-US$365/st FOB.

Urea prices slipped to US$430-US$460/st FOB in the Eastern Cornbelt, down US$20/st from the previous week, with the low confirmed at Cincinnati, Ohio.

Fueled by softening NOLA barge values, the urea market fell to US$410-US$450/st FOB in the Western Cornbelt, down from last week’s US$430-US$480/st FOB range. The high was confirmed in Iowa and the low at St. Louis, Mo.

North America Phosphate Last Week – Tight Supply Pushing Prices Up

The latest MAP prices in Western Canada were pegged as high as the C$990/mt FOB or DEL level for Sept-Oct tons, up from previous offers in the mid- to upper-C$800s/mt. Sources said several suppliers had pulled pricing, however, while the NOLA barge market continued to climb on reports of tight supply.

NOLA DAP barges firmed to US$530-US$545/st FOB from the week-ago US$525-US$545/st FOB, while MAP barges jumped US$25/st at the low end, to US$625-US$640/st FOB from last week’s US$600-US$640/st FOB. Sources reported a slow trading week, with most interest chasing a limited availability of MAP.

In the Pacific Northwest, MAP prices jumped to US$720-US$730/st FOB or DEL, up from the previous US$670-US$680/st FOB or DEL range.

DAP prices rose to US$570-US$590/st FOB in the Eastern Cornbelt, with the lower end of the range reported at Cincinnati. MAP firmed to US$675-US$700/st FOB in the region, up another US$10-US$20/st from last week, with the Cincinnati market pegged at US$680-US$690/st FOB.

DAP prices in the Western Cornbelt moved up to US$575-US$590/st FOB during the week, with the low confirmed at St. Louis. MAP strengthened to US$675-US$700/st FOB in the region, up from last week’s US$665-US$680/st FOB, with the low at St. Louis and the high confirmed in the Iowa market.

Green Markets Global Macro Comments – Some Still Skeptical of China’s Ability to Cover Volume


All eyes remain on the Indian Potash Ltd. (IPL) tender. After the tender closed, word came from China over the weekend that more tons would be made available. The total amount of urea IPL is looking to take shot past the initial 1.5 million mt target, to as high as 1.9 million mt. At the end of the week, the quantity appeared to settle around 1.7 million mt as traders adjusted their orders to fit prices and freight costs.

All discussions reportedly ended on Aug. 17. India’s East Coast ports will receive 632,000 mt, according to sources, while West Coast ports will get 1.08 million mt, for a total of 1.7 million mt.

Of that amount, China will supply an estimated 1.1 million mt. Arab Gulf producers are expected to provide 250,000-300,000 mt, with another 200,000-250,000 mt anticipated from either the Baltic or Black Sea. Any remainder might come from Southeast Asian suppliers.

Even with the larger-than-expected purchase, sources said India will still need another 2.2 million mt by the end of the year. The purchases will allow India to take a breather before issuing a new tender, however. Sources now speculate the next tender call may not come until mid-October at the earliest, depending on the level of demand. If demand exceeds current estimates, the call could come sooner.

Some traders continued to express concern that all of the Chinese urea may not clear the export inspection process in time to meet the tender’s Sept. 26 shipping deadline. However, one trader noted that the government seemed to have relaxed the rules surrounding when and where the inspections could take place. There is now a reported 800,000 mt stock at portside warehouses awaiting inspection and shipment. The inspectors have reportedly been told to expedite the process.

Middle East

Following confirmation that some Arab Gulf producers would supply to India under the IPL tender, sources estimated netbacks in the US$380-US$385/mt FOB range. Sources estimate Arab Gulf producers will supply up to 300,000 mt in the Indian tender.


Import urea prices in Brazil softened to US$380-US$400/mt CFR from the prior week’s US$410-US$430/mt CFR, a roughly 7% decline, while the paper market was reported in the US$370-US$375/mt CFR range. Sources noted international price confusion following the Indian tender, with decreases in Brazil contrasting against increased pricing reported out of China.


Sources reported up to 800,000 mt of urea awaiting export clearance at portside warehouses in China. The granting of permission for the tons to be deposited at the warehouses prior to inspection was a concession to producers looking to meet the IPL tender’s Sept. 26 shipping deadline. Sources estimated China will supply about 1.1 million mt into the Indian tender.

Having the tons already at the ports makes it easier for traders to schedule vessels. Under the normal procedure, the urea would be sent to the ports after a 2-3 week inspection, adding an additional 2-3 weeks to the process. Now, said sources, once the inspection is done, the urea can be loaded immediately if a ship is on hand.

Industry Tidbits

  • Potash and Agri Development Corp. of Manitoba (PADCOM) announced on Aug. 9 that the Government of Manitoba has awarded it Crown Mineral leases, which add more than 100 million mt of potash to the company’s lease and assets. The leases are in the North Block near PADCOM’s current mine near Russell-Bincarth, Manitoba.
    • A projected smaller durum crop in Canada, along with rising concerns about the quality of the European durum crop, are helping durum prices in the US, reported AgUpdate.
    • With many areas in Saskatchewan experiencing drought conditions, there is concern that many farmers will suffer a repeat of 2021, highlighting a longstanding problem with contracts, The Western Producer
    • American lawmakers from both parties are pushing legislation that would limit who can own American farmland, with a latest effort from Democratic senator Cory Booker aimed at curbing corporate ownership, as reported by The Western Producer.