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CRU: UAN Trade Flows Shift in the USA

LONDON, January 12, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --

Two new large UAN plants came on stream in the USA over the last two years, resulting in a decline in USA imports, and a dramatic increase in exports. The battle to displace UAN imports will focus on the USA's Eastern Corn Belt as the USA's new production battles for market share with importers.

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USA East Coast imports decline as new capacity comes on stream  

The USA added 2.74 million tonnes per annum of UAN capacity over the last two years, which about matches 2017 USA imports. While imports have declined modestly, USA exports increased dramatically from 0.5 Mt in 2015 to an estimated 1.6 Mt in 2017. There have been shifts in USA imports by region and by source.

In 2014, 40% of UAN imports were on the USA's East Coast (including Mobile, AL as imports from that port go the eastern half of the USA) at over 1.1 million tonnes. For January through October 2017, UAN imports to the East Coast have declined to about 36% of the USA total and we forecast the total East Coast 2017 imports at around 0.9 Mt.

There are several reasons for this. The largest is the two new large plants by CF Industries in Donaldsonville, LA and IFCo in Wever, IA. CF has commissioned a new vessel to ship UAN to tanks on the East Coast, which would compete directly with East Coast imports. In addition, production at IFCo's new plant in Iowa is likely to target East Coast customers via direct rail. The new capacity has also put pressure on UAN prices which declined from an average of $239/st in 2015 to a low of $145/st this past year, putting margin pressure on global marginal producers.

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