Turkish synthetic amsul producer, Eti Bakir, is reported to have sold a cargo to a trader for export to east coast Mexico in September. Indeed, a trader is in the freight market for a 24-30,000 DWT cargo from Samsun to 1-2 ports east Mexico for 20-30 September shipment. Sources in the region indicate that the product was sold at $110pt fob.
This would be the first noted sale of a handysize cargo to Latin America (indeed to anywhere further than Europe/North Africa) since 2010. The move to export comes in tandem with a sharp and drastic reduction in amsul imports by Turkey as domestic producers, following recent expansions, increase market share.
In late 2019 to early 2020, Eti Bakir doubled production at its plant near Samsun (northern Turkey) to 500,000t a year. In addition to this, Bagfas is supplying all of its production to the domestic market. According to local reports, the producer has been able to increase amsul output by 100,000t a year to 300,000t/y by readjusting the production process.
Until recently Turkish producers have been primarily focused on their own market, only exporting to European markets (including Ukraine) and North Africa opportunistically. The change in focus this year has been reflected in latest customs data which show January to July amsul exports of 78,000t, versus just 16,000t over the same period in 2018 and 2019.
In 2019, amsul exports were 72,000t, up from 31,000t in 2018. Between 2011-2017, amsul exports from Turkey ranged between 3-13,000t per year. Only prior to this did Turkey export amsul in large cargoes. In 2010, Turkey exported 52,000t with 21,000t to Brazil. Of note, at that time Brazil was a major buyer of standard (including steel/capro) grade amsul. Since then, Brazilian farmers have made a near total shift to compacted and granular amsul.
In tandem, 2020 imports of amsul have slumped with just 262,000t arriving during January-July, down from 638-650,000t over the same period in 2018 and 2019. Turkish amsul imports do fluctuate year on year with 2016 amounting to 680,000t and 2017 totalling 966,000t. This year, imports are likely to be lower, in part due to macroeconomic factors and the impact of COVID, but also the increased availability of domestic product. Recent purchasing tenders for 40-45,000t lots have seen domestic producers win business over offshore suppliers.
Given the changing structure of the Turkish market, Turkish amsul is set to play a bigger role in international trade. This will be seen in the months ahead as the domestic market is off-season. In 2019 November was the largest export month of the year.
By Michael Samueli, Nitrogen Market Reporter