Nutrien CEO not looking to sell assets despite fertilizer price fall

By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) – Canadian potash producer Nutrien is not looking to sell assets to raise capital, CEO Ken Seitz told Reuters, even as falling fertilizer prices have caused it to scrap projects and trim costs.

Nutrien said on Wednesday it would halt plans to expand potash production in Saskatchewan and end work on a clean ammonia project in Louisiana, as it cut its earnings forecast.

“We’re not in a situation where we feel we need to focus on selling assets and will only do something like that opportunistically,” Seitz said in an interview on Thursday.

Potash prices have fallen as offshore markets worked through inventories in spring and due to a delay in settling annual supply contracts for Chinese buyers, which typically set a global price floor.

Nutrien also faces logistics problems. A strike last month of dockworkers at Port of Vancouver and mechanical problems at a terminal in Portland, Oregon have backed up potash exports by Canpotex, a company owned by Nutrien and Mosaic, to move fertilizer offshore.

Seitz said the companies are not considering steps to reduce their reliance on Vancouver and Portland, noting that they can already move some potash through Saint John, New Brunswick, Churchill, Manitoba and Morehead City, North Carolina.

“We’re in a bit of a unique situation here with Portland and Neptune being down at the same time. I don’t think that’s ever happened before,” he said. Neptune is the terminal that Canpotex ships from in Vancouver.

Nutrien officials told analysts on a conference call that it may take weeks to clear the Vancouver potash backlog, and it sees its Portland terminal back in service by the end of 2023.

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Mark Porter and Alexander Smith)