(Photo: Containers of Bolivian urea dispatched to foreign markets from the Bulo Bulo plant)
Buenos Aires, October 16th. According to the National Statistics and Census Institute (INDEC as its Spanish acronym), imports of urea reached a record volume of 393,324 tons during the January to August period. But the record imports occurred in August when local buyers brought 233,198 tons to the country.
The main suppliers during August were Algeria (72,500 tons), Egypt (33,000 tons), Russia (30,217) and United Arab Emirates (24,440 tons). Others 64,370 tons were classified by the INDEC as “confidential origin). The average CIF price rounds 289 dollars per tonne. The notice was the first imports operations from Bolivia, for a total of 8,671 tons, after YPFB (the oil national company) started the operation of the Bulo Bulo plant.
These imports represent a relevant proportion of urea local consumption. According to the Fertilizers and Agrochemicals Argentine Industries Chamber (CIAFA), local farmers applied 1.31 million metric tons of urea in 2017. This use surpasses the 2016 consumption (1.26 MMT) and 2015 one (1.00 MMT).
The expansion of the corn and wheat areas and a better profitability of these crops were the drivers of the urea consumption.
In Argentina, there is a unique urea factory, placed at Bahía Blanca and owned by national oil company YPF and Canadian Nutrien (former Agrium), and named Profertil. Last year the factory reached the second largest urea production in its history with 1.28 million metric tons.
This year Profertil is importing about 100,000 tons to compensate the exports made early the year and the non-production in the winter due to the technical stop of the plant. “All the remaining imports respond to the demand growth”, sources of www.eFarmNewsAr.com explained. “There was a large optimism during June and July that pushed input suppliers to import fertilizers. But the governmental decision to re-impose export taxes over wheat and corn in late August, added to the climate and economic uncertainty, push the farmers to act in a more conservative way”, the sources opine.
In the fertilizers industry, it expects that imports had continued arriving during September and that the final urea volume reaches or surpasses 500,000 tons this year.
“We saw a high urea consumption by wheat farmers; also, corn farmers are improving the use, including after the reimpose of the tax export. Only for the later corn (planted over the end of the year), we are seeing a switching for soybean planting”, the president of Fertilizar (a non-governmental association) Marco Prenna says in dialogue with www.eFarmNewsAr.com.
But other sources are not so optimistic. “Early August we hoped to surpass 15% of the 2017 consumption; now we are waiting for a 5% larger fertilizers use. Anyway, it will be a good news if 2018 conclude with more than 4 million metric tons of fertilizers consume”, the sources added.
According to the INDEC data, if this year urea imports reach 500,000 tons, a new record could be reached. The following graph, from RIA Consultores, shows that the largest urea imports date from 2007 with 509,183 tons.