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The World's Top 40 Ammonia Buyers

16 December 2020

New Fertecon report ranks and profiles the world's 40 biggest ammonia buyers

We have compiled a list of what we think are the world's forty biggest buyers of ammonia in 2019 and we look at them in the context of the industries they are in, as well geographically.

Free sample report

The focus of our report is not the traders, trader-producers or terminal operators which fill the majority of the places in our top 10 and who are regularly covered in Fertecon's Ammonia Outlook reports, but what we would define as the "true" end-users, although this turns out to be quite a subjective exercise. If a company has a 30% or 50% share in the owner ship of an ammonia plant and yet off-takes the full volume is that a purchase of the full volume, or a pro-rated volume? It probably depends on individual agreements for such a shareholding but in discussing traders purchase volumes we aim to show the volume they move as well as the volume they say they buy.

The biggest ammonia buyer in 2019 by quite a significant margin, is Trammo with close to 3 million t traded. We include Trammo in our first section on what we call pure traders, along with Mitsubishi (number 6 on our list) and Mitsui (8). All three of these companies have ammonia off-take agreements and Mitsubishi is a 30% owner of an ammonia plant, but we think it is more trading than producing. We do not include to our list those traders who sell their own produced ammonia (Nutrien, Sabic, Parna Raya) or sell on behalf or on long term agreement with only one producer, such as Ameropa (Togliatti), Muntajat (QAFCO), Raintrade (Iranian producers). Some of these are spot buyers but not in 2019 for volumes large enough to count in our ranking.

In the following section on producer traders we have Yara the second biggest ammonia buyer in the world and the second biggest producer! We also cover BASF (10) and Koch Industries (13) in this grouping.

Our third grouping of trader buyers is for the terminal operators. LFC is number 9 on our list of top buyers but only uses abut 20,000t/y ammonia itself. In contrast the other big Korea importer-NCC (11) is a substantial user in its own right, although still using less than 50% of the volume it imports. Our third terminal operator is difficult to pin down. Hengrun-Gemoil (22). Hengrun has the lease on the ammonia tanks in Zhanjiang, and is a major seller of the ammonia imported, but most if not all of the buying for import into these tanks is handled by its partner Gemoil.

Sixteen of our top ammonia buyers are primarily fertilizer producers with the biggest buyers focused on ammonium phosphate fertilizer production ie OCP (3), Mosaic (4), IFFCO (5), CIL (12), Yuntianhua (26) and JPMC (38). Inevitably there is some mixing, and fertilizer producers can be industrial nitrogen producers and-as in the case of Pemex (7) - also significant ammonia traders. We should also stress that there is double counting in these numbers, eg with Trammo buying to sell to another buyer in our list. Besides Pemex, our other mixed fertilizer buyers are Toros (16), Fertiberia (24), Agropolychim (27), Bagfas (31), TFC (34) and Lovochemie (37).

After Fertilizers we look at the various industrial nitrogen sectors-non fertilizer users of ammonia. We have five of our top buyers mainly producing caprolactam: Highsun (17), Ube (19), Lanxess (23), CPDC (28) and Capro Corp. (39). It is also important to point out BASF, listed above as a producer - trader, is the second biggest caprolactam producer in the world and one of the leading producers of both MDI-TDI and Ethanolamines, products which consume ammonia and feature later in this report.

Our report has four buyers mainly producing acrylonitrile: INEOS (15), Asahi Kasei (14), Ascend (18) and Shanghai Secco (35). Both Acrylonitrile and especially caprolactam producers can and do produce fertilizer, chiefly ammonium sulphate, in significant volumes, but we will still refer to these as non-fertilizer producers.

Three of our top companies are producers of explosive grade ammonium nitrate (EGAN): ENAEX (21), Orica (25) and CSBP (33), also a fertilizer producer. Finally, a threesome of ammonia buyers with their own distinct fields: Huchems (20) produces nitric acid, which is mostly used in the production of MDI/TDI; Evonik (30) features in our list because of its purchase of ammonia for a variety of products, including methionine. We have this buyer within a section on ammonia use in amino acids production. Our last buyer, Butachimie (40) produces ADN but is mentioned in our section on Koch, which owns Invista, a major ADN producer, and a 50% owner of Butachimie, together with BASF.

We have further tried to sub-divide these buyers on a geographical basis, so we have grouped buyers in Korea, India, Turkey and Taiwan.

About the Author

Peter Shaddick has been involved in the fertilizer and fertilizer raw material industry since 1974. He started work at British Sulphur Corp. as a contributor to the monthly magazine Fertilizer International, later going on to become its editor. In 1977 he helped develop the first weekly price reports for ammonia and urea, then sent out by telex, and later extended these to cover a wider range of fertilizer products. In early 1981 he moved to Singapore to work for Transammonia AG, assisting in sales of ammonia, sulphur and various fertilizers in south-east and east Asia from and including the Indian sub-continent. In 1993 he left Transammonia and formed his own company to broker and trade fertilizers in the same region. In 1999 he partnered with Fertecon to author a report on the Vietnam fertilizer market and later that year he was recruited by Fertecon on a part time basis to contribute market information on the region for all the fertilizer and fertilizer raw materials handled by Fertecon. In 2012 he authored a report for Fertecon on the Laos potash industry. He continues to live in Singapore and to work with Fertecon on a part time basis, mostly focused on reporting the urea and ammonia markets of Asia and Oceania, east of India.

Please contact alan.bullion@ihsmarkit.com for any further information




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