Business news from Ukraine

Ostchem plants increase fertilizer production by 19.51%

26 January , 2024  

In 2023, the plants of Ostchem, a nitrogen holding company that unites Group DF’s nitrogen business, produced 2.1 million tons of mineral fertilizers, up 19.51% year-on-year.

According to a Group DF press release, Azot, the group’s Cherkasy-based plant, produced 1.56 million tons of mineral fertilizers in 2023, up 39.63% year-on-year, while Rivne Azot produced 528 thousand tons (-10.81%).

Urea, UAN and ammonium nitrate were the key fertilizers produced by Ostchem’s businesses, Group DF said.

According to the group, in 2023, it produced 835.9 thousand tons of ammonium nitrate, up 60.47% year-on-year, UAN – 572.7 thousand tons (+130%), and urea – 447.1 thousand tons (+145%). Production of UAN, a traditionally exported fertilizer produced by Rivne Azot, halved to 102 thousand tons.

“The fertilizer market is recovering, but imports of nitrogen fertilizers, which have increased significantly, do not allow us to fully utilize our plants. Despite the difficult situation in the agricultural sector, forced shutdowns of plants due to the hostilities, still high gas prices and abnormally high volumes of imports to Ukraine at dumping prices, Ostchem started to restore production in 2023. We fully met the demand from farmers even during peak periods,” said Sergiy Pavliuchuk, Production Director of Ostchem’s nitrogen business.

In 2023, Ostchem Holding doubled its production of UAN, the most promising fertilizer in Ukraine, to meet the demand. UAN was ranked second in terms of production, and its share in Ostchem’s product portfolio amounted to 27.3%, according to Group DF.

“It is no secret that we are negotiating with global players to develop several industrial sites. Our strategic plans include the construction of new workshops and enterprises. We are talking about investing in new, energy-efficient fertilizer production facilities and launching new products such as AdBlue, industrial gases, and petrochemicals,” added Pavliuchuk.

Commenting on the state of the domestic fertilizer market in Ukraine, Group DF said that the main feature of 2023 was the critical growth in imports imported at dumping prices. Compared to 2022, imports of mineral fertilizers to Ukraine increased 1.9 times, reaching 1.99 million tons. For example, urea imports increased 3.7 times over the year, reaching 501 thousand tons.

“A huge flow of cheap Belarusian and Russian fertilizers enters Ukraine through two channels: the first is from the former Soviet Union countries friendly to the aggressor. The second new channel is the re-export of Belarusian and Russian fertilizers from the EU. According to Eurostat, the total volume of nitrogen fertilizer imports to the EU increased by 34% in 2022-2023, while Russia accounted for about a third of these imports. Despite the sanctions and the existing embargo, a significant portion of these fertilizers is also entering Ukraine, slowly “killing” the Ukrainian producer and Ukrainian jobs,” emphasized Oleg Arestarkhov, Group DF’s Head of Corporate Communications.

In his opinion, the new trend is driven not only by Russia’s desire to expand its sales markets, but also by its strategic plan to make the EU and Ukraine dependent on its fertilizers.

Unable to compete with cheap imports, many EU companies are shutting down, and Ukrainian chemical companies such as Odesa Port and Sumykhimprom are also idle.

“The US and EU countries have already developed measures to ‘reduce dependence’ on fertilizers, grain and other food products from Russia. Formally, Ukraine has an embargo on imports of Russian and Belarusian fertilizers. However, fertilizers from these countries, as well as countries that buy cheap gas from Russia, continue to be supplied. As a result, our market is flooded with cheap imports, and Ukraine is facing critical dumping. Unfortunately, in 2023, we did not see any clear, tough economic actions by the authorities to protect the Ukrainian market and national producers. Fertilizer imports to the country are growing much faster than domestic production. Domestic production grew by about 20%, while imports grew by almost 100%,” stated Arestarkhov, adding that Ukraine needs to learn to better protect its interests.

Group DF consolidates Dmitry Firtash’s assets in the gas distribution, chemical, titanium and port industries, as well as in agriculture and media.

Ostchem is Group DF’s nitrogen holding company that unites the largest mineral fertilizer producers in Ukraine. It includes Rivne Azot, Cherkasy Azot, as well as Sievierodonetsk Azot and Stirol, which are not operating and are located in the occupied territories.

Cherkasy Azot PrJSC (Cherkasy, Ukraine) is one of the largest Ukrainian chemical companies and has been part of Group DF’s nitrogen business since 2011. The design production capacity of Cherkassy Azot is 962.7 thousand tons of ammonia, 970 thousand tons of ammonium nitrate, 891.6 thousand tons of urea, and 1 million tons of UAN per year.

Rivne Azot is one of the largest Ukrainian chemical companies in Western Ukraine and has been a part of Group DF’s Ostchem nitrogen holding since 2011. Since its acquisition, Firtash has invested over UAH 1.3 billion in Rivne Azot.

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