Bulk Urea Shipping


Urea is widely used fertiliser with a high nitrogen content, transported around the world in bulk or in bags depending upon the infrastructure of the importing area.

Urea can be obtained semi-naturally from the body fluids and urine of animals, termed Animal Urea, but as a commercial commodity is more often chemically derived, such as from methane/formaldehyde, and termed Technical Urea.

Urea Shipping

A major export of Alaska, the Middle East, Romania, Russia, and Germany, in particular, although potentially an export of any nation blessed with supplies of natural gas. Urea in bulk requires especially clean and dry cargo compartments.

A considerable quantity of Artificial Fertilizers are moved in bulk in small ships over short sea distances, the specialized trades in these areas preferring ships with steel rather than with wooden ceilings.

Urea shippers insist always on steel ceilings but exporters of certain other products may accept ships with timber flooring in case of need, although they will be acutely conscious of the cleanliness of the timber and will prefer the less moisture absorbing hardwood rather than ships fitted with softwood ceilings.

Softwood tends to attract essential moisture from Artificial Fertilizer, which moisture helps create a consistent and uniform granular shape to the product, causing the delivery of undesirable Powdered Fertiliser.

These products can also be damaged by suction/vacuvator discharge, receivers preferring the cargo to be handled by grabs which again means that ships with steel ceilings/tank tops will have an advantage.

Urea Stowage Factor

  • Bulk Urea Stowage Factor 45/55
  • Bagged Urea Stowage Factor 55/65

Bulk Urea Shipping

Bulk urea shipping refers to the transportation of urea, a nitrogen-based compound commonly used as a fertilizer, in large quantities. Urea is a valuable source of nitrogen, which is an essential nutrient for plant growth, development, and overall health. Nitrogen plays a crucial role in various physiological processes, such as protein synthesis, photosynthesis, and resistance to diseases and pests. The transportation of urea involves several key aspects to ensure its safe and efficient delivery:

  1. Bulk Urea Production: Urea is primarily produced through the Haber-Bosch process, which combines ammonia (NH3) and carbon dioxide (CO2) under high pressure and temperature to create a solid, granular or prilled product.
  2. Bulk Urea Loading: Urea is typically loaded onto transport vehicles, such as ships, trains, or trucks, using specialized equipment like conveyor belts, chutes, or grab cranes. The loading process must be carefully managed to prevent product loss, as well as to ensure the safe and efficient transfer of the urea to the transport vehicle.
  3. Bulk Urea Storage and Shipping: During transportation, urea is typically stored in the hold of bulk carriers or specialized ships designed for the transport of dry bulk cargo. These ships are equipped with cargo holds that have ventilation systems to control moisture and temperature levels, ensuring the quality of the urea is maintained. Inland transportation of urea is often carried out using trains and trucks.
  4. Bulk Urea Unloading: Unloading urea at its destination involves using specialized equipment, such as grab cranes or pneumatic unloading systems, which transfer the urea from the transport vehicle to the storage facility or processing plant. The unloading process must be carefully managed to prevent product loss and damage to the urea.
  5. Bulk Urea Shipping Safety and Environmental Considerations: Bulk urea shipping involves various safety and environmental considerations. The handling and transportation of urea must be carried out in accordance with relevant regulations and best practices to minimize the risk of accidents, environmental damage, and product loss. This includes ensuring that appropriate equipment and procedures are used for loading and unloading, as well as managing dust emissions and maintaining the quality of the urea during transportation.
  6. Bulk Urea Shipping Documentation and Regulations: Shipping urea often involves dealing with various documentation and regulations, such as export permits, bills of lading, and customs declarations. These documents and regulations help ensure that the urea is legally sourced, meets relevant quality standards, and complies with international trade rules.

Bulk urea shipping is a critical component of the global fertilizer trade, enabling the efficient and safe transportation of this valuable resource to meet the demands of the agricultural sector worldwide. Proper handling, transportation, and shipping procedures are essential for ensuring the successful delivery of urea and maintaining its quality.


Bulk Urea Handling

The handling of urea in bulk requires attention to several key aspects to ensure its safe and efficient management:

  1. Bulk Urea Storage: Proper storage is critical to maintaining the quality and integrity of urea. Storage facilities should be clean, dry, and well-ventilated to prevent moisture absorption, which can lead to caking and degradation of the product. Urea should be stored separately from other chemicals or fertilizers to avoid cross-contamination and potential chemical reactions.
  2. Bulk Urea Loading and Unloading: Specialized equipment, such as conveyor belts, chutes, or grab cranes, is used for loading and unloading urea onto or from transport vehicles like ships, trains, or trucks. Careful attention must be paid to prevent product loss, damage, or contamination during these processes.
  3. Bulk Urea Dust control: Urea handling can generate dust, which may pose respiratory health risks and environmental concerns. Implementing dust control measures, such as using dust suppression systems, enclosures, or vacuum systems, can help minimize dust emissions and protect worker health and the environment.
  4. Bulk Urea Safety and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Workers involved in urea handling should wear appropriate PPE, such as safety goggles, gloves, and dust masks, to minimize the risk of exposure to urea dust and prevent skin and eye irritation. Proper training and safety protocols should also be in place to ensure worker safety.
  5. Bulk Urea Equipment Maintenance: Regular maintenance and cleaning of equipment used in urea handling, such as conveyor belts, chutes, and grab cranes, help ensure their proper functioning and reduce the risk of product loss or contamination.
  6. Bulk Urea Quality Control: Regular inspection and monitoring of urea quality, both during storage and transportation, are essential for maintaining product integrity. This may involve testing for parameters such as moisture content, particle size distribution, and nitrogen content, to ensure the urea meets the required specifications.
  7. Bulk Urea Handling Compliance with Regulations: Urea handling must comply with relevant local, national, and international regulations regarding safety, environmental protection, and product quality. This may include adhering to guidelines for safe storage, transportation, and disposal of urea, as well as meeting any required import or export permits and documentation.

Proper bulk urea handling is essential for maintaining product quality, ensuring worker safety, and minimizing environmental impacts. By following best practices and adhering to relevant regulations, the safe and efficient management of this valuable fertilizer can be achieved.


Bulk Urea Stowage Factor

The stowage factor of bulk urea is a measure of the space required to stow a given amount of urea in a ship. It is typically expressed in cubic meters per metric ton (m³/MT) or cubic feet per long ton (ft³/LT). The stowage factor can vary depending on the form of urea, such as prilled or granular, as well as other factors affecting space utilization.

In general, the stowage factor for bulk urea ranges from approximately 0.9 to 1.1 m³/MT (or 32 to 39 ft³/LT). However, these values are indicative and may not be applicable in all situations. The actual stowage factor for a specific cargo of urea will depend on its unique characteristics and the specific conditions of the shipment.

To determine the most accurate stowage factor for bulk urea, it is advisable to consult with a surveyor, shipping agent, or other experts who have experience in handling and transporting urea cargo. This information will help ensure efficient space utilization and optimal loading and stowage of the cargo, ultimately contributing to the safe and cost-effective transportation of the urea.


Types of Urea

Urea is a widely-used nitrogen-based fertilizer that comes in various forms to suit different agricultural applications. The primary types of urea include:

  1. Prilled urea: Prilled urea is a small, spherical, and solid form of urea produced by spraying liquid urea into a prilling tower, where it cools and solidifies into small, uniform beads. Prilled urea has a slightly lower nitrogen content compared to granular urea (typically around 46% nitrogen). It is generally used as a direct-application fertilizer or as a component in blended fertilizers.
  2. Granular urea: Granular urea is produced by a different manufacturing process than prilled urea, resulting in a larger, more irregularly-shaped particle. The granules are created by spraying liquid urea onto a bed of solid urea particles and then allowing it to solidify. Granular urea typically has a slightly higher nitrogen content than prilled urea (usually around 46-48% nitrogen) and is less susceptible to caking, making it more suitable for bulk storage and handling.
  3. Urea ammonium nitrate (UAN): UAN is a liquid fertilizer that combines urea, ammonium nitrate, and water. It typically contains around 28-32% nitrogen, with varying ratios of urea and ammonium nitrate. UAN can be applied directly to the soil, through fertigation systems, or as a foliar spray. Its liquid form makes it convenient for blending with other nutrients and applying in various ways.
  4. Coated or controlled-release urea: Coated urea is a type of urea that has been treated with a polymer or sulfur coating to slow down the release of nitrogen into the soil. This controlled-release mechanism can help reduce nitrogen loss due to leaching or volatilization, improving the efficiency of nitrogen uptake by plants. Coated urea is typically more expensive than standard urea products, but it can offer benefits in specific agricultural settings, such as sandy soils or areas with high rainfall.
  5. Urea formaldehyde (UF): Urea formaldehyde is a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer created by polymerizing urea with formaldehyde. This process forms a water-insoluble compound that slowly releases nitrogen as it decomposes in the soil. UF fertilizers can help reduce nitrogen loss and improve nutrient use efficiency in specific agricultural settings. However, they are generally more expensive than standard urea products and may not be suitable for all crops or soil types.

These different types of urea offer various advantages and disadvantages, depending on factors such as the specific nutrient requirements of the crop, soil conditions, and application methods. Selecting the appropriate type of urea for a particular agricultural context is essential for ensuring optimal plant growth and yield.


Bulk Urea Ocean Transportation

Ocean transportation of bulk urea involves several key considerations and steps to ensure the safe and efficient movement of the cargo from the loading port to the destination port. Here is an overview of the process:

  1. Bulk Urea Ocean Transportation Ship Selection: Based on the quantity and specifications of the urea cargo, a suitable ship must be chosen. Common types of ships used for bulk urea transportation include bulk carriers, specifically Handysize, Handymax, and Supramax Bulk Carriers, depending on the size of the cargo and port limitations.
  2. Bulk Urea Cargo Handling Equipment: The selected ship should be equipped with suitable cargo handling equipment, such as cranes, grabs, or conveyors, for efficient loading and unloading of the urea.
  3. Bulk Urea Loading Port Preparation: Prior to loading, the loading port should ensure that the urea cargo is adequately prepared, free from contaminants, and that the loading equipment is in good working condition.
  4. Bulk Urea Stowage Planning: A stowage plan should be developed, taking into account the stowage factor of the urea, the ship’s cargo capacity, and any specific requirements related to the cargo or ship. The stowage plan should aim to maximize space utilization and ensure the safe and efficient handling of the cargo.
  5. Bulk Urea Loading Process: The loading process should be carefully monitored and supervised, ensuring that the cargo is loaded in accordance with the stowage plan and any applicable regulations or guidelines.
  6. Securing the Bulk Urea Cargo: Once loaded, the urea cargo should be properly secured to prevent shifting or damage during the voyage. This may involve trimming the cargo, using additional securing measures, or adjusting the ship’s ballast and trim.
  7. Bulk Urea Ocean Transportation Voyage Planning: The ship’s route should be planned, taking into account weather conditions, navigational hazards, and any other factors that may affect the safety and efficiency of the transportation.
  8. Bulk Urea Unloading Process: Upon arrival at the destination port, the unloading process should be carefully managed and supervised to ensure the safe and efficient discharge of the urea cargo.
  9. Bulk Urea Ocean Transportation Compliance with Regulations: Throughout the entire ocean transportation process, all parties involved must ensure compliance with applicable international and local regulations, such as the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes (IMSBC) Code, which provides guidelines for the safe handling and transportation of bulk cargoes, including urea.

By considering these factors and following best practices for the ocean transportation of bulk urea, shipping companies can ensure the safe, efficient, and cost-effective delivery of the cargo to its final destination.



Top Urea Exporting Countries

  1. China: China is the world’s leading urea exporter, with a significant production capacity and a large domestic market. China’s urea production is driven by its vast coal resources, which are used as a feedstock in the manufacturing process.
  2. Russia: Russia is another major urea exporter, with extensive natural gas reserves that serve as a feedstock for urea production. Russian companies such as Gazprom and EuroChem are significant players in the global urea market, contributing to the country’s export capabilities.
  3. Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia is an important urea exporter, with its urea production being mainly driven by its abundant natural gas resources. Companies like Saudi Arabian Fertilizer Company (SAFCO) and Ma’aden play a crucial role in the country’s urea production and export capabilities.
  4. Iran: Iran is a significant urea exporter, with its urea production being supported by its vast natural gas reserves. Iran’s urea industry has been expanding in recent years, contributing to the country’s growing presence in the global urea market.
  5. India: India is both a major urea producer and exporter, as well as a significant importer due to its large agricultural sector and domestic demand. Indian companies like Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) and National Fertilizers Limited (NFL) are key players in the urea market.
  6. Indonesia: Indonesia is an important urea exporter in the Asia-Pacific region, with its urea production being primarily supported by its natural gas resources. Companies like PT Pupuk Indonesia and PT Petrokimia Gresik contribute to the country’s urea production and export capabilities.
  7. Qatar: Qatar is a significant urea exporter, with its urea production being driven by its large natural gas reserves. Qatar Fertiliser Company (QAFCO) is a key player in the country’s urea industry, contributing to its export capabilities.

These countries play a critical role in the global urea market, supplying this essential nitrogen-based fertilizer to various markets worldwide. It is important to note that the actual rankings of these countries may change over time due to factors such as market dynamics, production capacities, and trade policies.