US amsul stripping margin rises again in April

  • : Fertilizers
  • 24/04/19

The stripping margin for ammonium sulfate (amsul), driven by higher amsul prices, continued to rise in April even as variable costs grew.

The stripping margin increased by nearly $24/st to $270/st for April, up by 10pc from March and up by 13pc from April 2023.

Inland amsul trade exceeded $400/short tons (st) this month on continued supply tightness following production outages in the first quarter. Minimal length at New Orleans (Nola) spurred sellers to offer imported tons as high as $405/st fob for first half May delivery. Participants in the amsul market anticipate values to keep rising into May as supply tightness persists.

Higher amsul prices have been partially caused by higher costs for inputs. The Tampa, Florida, ammonia contract rose by 7pc to $475/st in April from the month prior and the sulfur Tampa contract climbed by 17pc to $81 per long ton (lt) from the previous quarter. The cost of ammonia and sulfur were 8pc and 27pc lower than a year earlier, respectively.

The total variable cost for amsul rose by $10/st in April to $143/st after holding steady in March.

Rising ammonia prices have supported amsul variable costs but gains in the price of ammonia have not been as substantive as the market expected, sources said. Applications of ammonia in the US are slowing, which may weaken the price of the Tampa contract, but production outages could offset seasonal declines. Ma'aden's ammonia II plant is due to undergo a month of maintenance starting mid-April.

Sulfur prices are expected to remain firm in the near term but lose momentum entering the third quarter on higher refinery utilization in the US and the return of Chinese exports of MAP and DAP, which could oversaturate the phosphate fertilizer market. Sulfuric acid is used to produce DAP and MAP.

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