- 2022 revenues increased 54% to $9.7 billion, adjusted EBITDA was up 54% to $3.9 billion, and adjusted net profit increased 84% to $1.3 billion compared to 2021.
- Q4 2022 revenues were $2.2 billion, at the same level as in Q4 2021, and adjusted EBITDA decreased 36% to $669 million YoY, driven mainly by no sale of EUAs in Q4 2022, lower selling prices, major turnarounds, realized hedging losses and weather-related outages in the US. Adjusted net profit was $205 million, compared to $447 million in the same period last year.
- OCI was free cash flow neutral in Q4 2022 at $(11) million after distributions to minority shareholders of $427 million, and generated free cash flow of $1.9 billion in 2022.
- Net debt declined by $1.06 billion during 2022 to $1.16 billion as of 31 December 2022, or consolidated net leverage of 0.3x, after capital returns to shareholders of $1.1 billion during calendar year 2022.
- OCI has confirmed a semi-annual cash distribution with respect to H2 2022 of €3.50 per share, or c.$785 million at current exchange rates, scheduled for payment in April 2023.
- Nitrogen prices have declined recently, but industry fundamentals are healthy, with high farmer profitability, decades low grain stocks and improved nitrogen affordability driving a demand recovery ahead of the application season including an expected material rebound in US corn acreage.
- The outlook for our methanol business is positive, as China re-opens, lower natural gas prices boost industrial demand, and demand for marine fuels is set to accelerate.
- We are making good progress with our transformational sustainability projects, including:
- Gasification project at BioMCN: OCI is evaluating a gasification opportunity at its methanol facility in the north of the Netherlands, to continue to grow its market leading position in green fuels and feedstocks.
- OCI is applying to the EU Innovation Fund for this gasification project, and strengthened collaboration on decarbonization with the Dutch government through the Tailor-Made Agreement process for additional support.
- 1 mtpa low-carbon ammonia project in the UAE: Fertiglobe (a minority shareholder in this project) has signed the EPC contract with Tecnimont S.p.A. on behalf of the project.
- Linde is to supply clean hydrogen and nitrogen to our new 1 mtpa blue ammonia plant in Texas under a long-term agreement; the project is on track to start production in early 2025.
Ahmed El-Hoshy, CEO of OCI N.V. commented:
“We are pleased with what the OCI team has achieved during 2022. We generated free cash flow of $1.9 billion, enabling us to deleverage and distribute $1.1 billion of cash to our shareholders in 2022, and a further $785 million slated for April. Utilizing our balance sheet and our execution capabilities, we are accelerating our sustainability-focused projects across our global platform to deliver on our hydrogen strategy and drive future growth.
During the fourth quarter and into 2023, nitrogen prices declined amid volatile natural gas markets, resulting in a delay in fertilizer purchases. This, combined with a heavy turnaround quarter across our platform, resulted in lower sales volumes compared to a year ago. Adjusted EBITDA in Q4 was also impacted by the absence of the sale of excess EUA’s in Europe, realized natural gas hedging losses of $43 million, principally in Europe, as well as a negative impact of around $20 million in the US due to temporary shutdowns and logistical constraints caused by the winter freeze.
The US Nitrogen segment ended the year with a near record quarter but for the impact of the cold weather. It generated $483 million of free cash flow and adjusted EBITDA of $744 million in 2022, including $215 million in Q4. The US Nitrogen business benefits from its position in the premium US Midwest market and a growing contribution from DEF, which reached a milestone of more than 1 million tons own-produced sales volumes on an annualized basis in Q4.
Looking forward, there is significant pent-up demand for nitrogen fertilizers ahead of the application season, and affordability is boosted by the recent nitrogen price declines. In the US alone, corn acreage is expected to rebound strongly, by more than 5% to 93 million acres. Moreover, industry consultants expect no new major greenfield urea supply to start up in 2023, and very few new additions until at least 2026.
After a year of range-bound methanol prices and major turnarounds in Q4 and into January, our methanol and fuels businesses are well-placed to benefit from expected demand upside from a re-opening in China and lower natural gas prices boosting industrial demand. Methanol is also buoyed by growth in the use as a marine fuel, expected to start accelerating from later this year, when the first large methanol-fueled ships are scheduled for delivery. Incremental demand is in excess of 3 million tons per year from the mid-2020’s based on current orders from the container vessel segment alone, which is significant in a globally traded market of around 30 million tons.
We look forward to a year with new exciting initiatives which aim to decarbonize our portfolio, leveraging our developmental experience and geographically advantaged assets.”
OCI believes the outlook for nitrogen markets continues to be supported by crop fundamentals and tight supply dynamics
Nitrogen demand is expected to recover to support rebuilding of global grain stocks:
- Global grain stock-to-use ratios are at the lowest levels in 20 years, and it will likely take at least until 2025 to replenish stocks.
- Forward grain prices (US corn futures >$5 / bushel to the end of 2025, compared to $3.7 / bushel from 2015 – 2019) support farm incomes and should incentivize increased planted acreage and nitrogen demand to help rebuild these grain stocks.
- As a result, global demand is expected to be above trend levels at least until 2025 driven by:
- Expected increase in the US alone of 4 million corn acres to an estimated 93 million acres in 2023 compared to 2022, when the season was impacted by weather.
- Higher demand in 2023 from major importing countries with focus on food security.
- The recent decline in nitrogen pricing is supportive of improving affordability and demand.
- China recovery and lower energy prices are supporting recovery of industrial demand, particularly for ammonia.
Nitrogen supply is expected to be tighter over 2023 – 2027:
- Industry consultants expect no new major greenfield urea supply to come online in 2023, and limited additions to 2026, whereas new Russian supply is still delayed.
- The ammonia market is also tight, with merchant demand expected to exceed supply from 2023 – 2026 compared to a net surplus in 2015 – 2019.
- There is good visibility on the supply outlook given long lead times of four to five years to build new plants and replacement costs have risen materially due to inflationary pressures.
- Chinese urea exports in 2022 were 47% lower year-over-year and are expected to remain low over the medium term, with export controls in place until H2 2023 to prioritize domestic demand.
Feedstock pricing is expected to remain volatile in the short-term given weather and regulatory intervention, but is expected to remain well above historical averages:
- 2023 – 2025 forward European gas prices are c.$17/mmBtu (c.3x higher than 2015-2019).
OCI believes the methanol outlook is positive on improving industrial demand, rebound in China and limited supply
Methanol demand is expected to rebound in 2023 on the back of China re-opening, also resulting in higher methanol-to-olefins (MTO) operating rates which have been low. Lower energy prices are also boosting industrial demand.
There is potential meaningful upside from demand for hydrogen fuels, notably as a cleaner alternative for road and marine fuel applications:
- Demand from the European vehicle fuels markets continues to grow, with increased demand for direct blending of green methanol and bio-MTBE.
- Incremental demand from the maritime sector is expected to be more than 3 mtpa by the mid-2020’s based on current orders from the container vessel segment alone.
- We are also encouraged by the recent orders from non-container segments, underscoring significant potential demand growth from non-consumer freight segments.
There are limited new methanol greenfield supply additions in the near/medium term, and we continue to expect tighter methanol market fundamentals over the period 2023 through 2027.