CIL announced that it has partially commenced operations at its Visakhapatnam fertilizer unit and that its Kakinada facility is still running, according to a stock exchange filing on 25 April.
The firm is one of the largest domestic suppliers of phosphate-based fertilizers in India, having produced 2.94mn t in 2018-19, according to its annual report. It produced 561,000t of SSP in the same period from eight production locations.
It has a total annual capacity of 3.5mn t of phosphate fertilizer, which includes DAP, SSP and NPKs, the report says. Its major phosphate plants are in southeast India, in Kakinada and Visakhapatnam, both located in Andhra Pradhesh, and two at Ennore and Ranipet in Tamil Nadu.
CIL reduced manpower at its NPK facilities on 23 March in light of the Indian government's inital plan for a 15-day lockdown on 24 March to curb the spread of coronavirus. CIL then suspended operations at its NPK plants at Ennore and Visakhapatnam on 26 March. The government has since extended the lockdown until 3 May.
CIL's shutdown came amid a slew of closures announced by Indian fertilizer producers at the end of March, with fellow suppliers IFFCO, Deepak, PPL, Fact, GSFC, RCF, Smartchem and Greenstar announcing plant closures or reduced operating rates.
Raw materials imports return
The announcement of CIL's resumption follows an uptick in raw materials purchases earlier this month.
CIL has been active in securing prompt sulphuric acid at negative cfr prices. The producer was coming out of planned maintenance when lockdowns were imposed and, despite the various disruptions, discharge of sulphuric acid at Vizag and Kakinada has not been affected.
CIL is still receiving its contracted ammonia shipments from suppliers, with a further 5,000t scheduled for early-May delivery.
CIL sources phosphoric acid as a raw material for production from a wide array of origins, most notably Morocco's OCP. CIL received 983,000t of phosphoric acid last year, of which OCP shipped 454,000t.
But OCP reports that April-loading phosphoric acid shipments to India have largely ground to a halt following the drop in phosphates production and has accordingly sought to granulate more DAP for Indian consumption. CIL bought 50,000t of Moroccan DAP for May arrival to offset its lowered output.