UPDATE 1-Agrium expects potash volumes to be 30 pct lower than normal
* Wholesale nitrogen, phosphate sales volumes likely to be lower
* Says customer demand delayed across all three nutrients
* Soft nutrient prices, weak sales volumes expected to hurt wholesale results
* Raises dividend by 50 percent
Sept 23 (Reuters) - Canadian fertilizer company Agrium Inc warned that its potash volumes are expected to be about 30 percent lower than normal in the current quarter.
The company said wholesale nitrogen and phosphate sales volumes are expected to be down 20 and 30 percent, respectively,
and customer demand has been delayed across all three nutrients for the quarter ending September.
Soft nutrient prices, combined with lower sales volumes, are expected to hurt third-quarter wholesale results across all the three nutrients, the company said.
The company said outages at its nitrogen plants reduced volumes by about 100,000 tonnes in the quarter, impacting costs.
Potash prices have slipped since mid-summer, when the biggest global producer Uralkali OAO quit its export partnership with Belaruskali and said it would seek to maximize sales volumes.
Russia's Uralkali broke up Belarusian Potash Co (BPC) in July and predicted the price of potash would plummet 25 percent to less than $300 per tonne.
BPC was one of the world's two biggest potash trading companies, along with North America's Canpotex Ltd, owned by Mosaic Co, Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc and Agrium.
Rival Mosaic last week cut its third-quarter outlook for the price and sales volume of potash and phosphate, saying crop nutrient markets had softened due to the breakup of BPC.
Agrium said on Monday wholesale earnings before interest and taxes is expected to be about $200 million lower in the third quarter than a year earlier.
The company raised its dividend by 50 percent to $3.00 per share on an annualized basis.
Shares of Agrium closed at C$92.38 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday.