The Sulphur markets are covered by ICIS weekly in China and on a global basis. Our market intelligence is gathered by our network of locally based reporters. The China report covers spot domestic prices, while the global report has price assessments for contract prices in Tampa and North Africa, spot prices in the Middle East and China and spot/contract hybrid prices in Vancouver.
Unbiased and independent commentary includes information on shipping activity, demand and supply, regional updates and any other influencing factors at the time. There is also coverage within the monthly Sulphur & Sulphuric Acid Outlook report. You can use this reliable information to keep up-to-date on market movements and make informed business decisions.
Sulphur Overview Transcript
Sulphur is an important raw material and has gained a lot of attention from commodity traders in recent years.
Our ICIS sulphur report is published weekly, and it provides market players accurate and timely information on the latest sulphur trades across the world.
Our quotes include the Free On Board or FOB prices out of two of the largest sulphur producing regions: Canada and the Middle East. On a weekly basis we also assess the cost and freight or CFR prices in major import markets including China, north Africa and the US.
Over 90% of sulphur is used for the production of sulphuric acid for fertilizer production and industrial uses. We follow closely the movement of these price drivers.
We also strive to deliver news on the upstream market to our subscribers by drawing upon our resources in London, Houston, Shanghai and Singapore
A tight-to-balanced sulphur market will bring price above historical terms and we expect prices to remain volatile in the coming years.
This weekly report is backed up by a solid methodology, and will provide our subscribers the necessary information needed for their business decisions.
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We offer the following regional Sulphur analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Sulphur marketplace.
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Sulphur: Market overview
Updated to Q4 2016
The outlook for the global sulphur market in Q4 looks a little uncertain following a rather flat Q3. A backdrop of lower prices for phosphates, caused by weak demand and the oversupply of the fertilizer has prevented sulphur prices firming for much of 2016 and this trend is expected to continue.
Despite claims of sold-out positions and tight availability from major sulphur exporters in the Middle East, most international traders do not expect to see prices firming. However, in India demand has picked up and following a dearth of purchase tenders, FACT, Coromandel and MMTC are looking to secure material since domestic prices are now at parity with import cargoes.
The Brazil contract price was agreed at similar levels to Q3, but discussions between buyers and sellers in North Africa and Europe for Q4 contracts continue. North African buyers are pushing for reductions because of price pressure in the downstream DAP and MAP markets, while European buyers for the production of caprolactam (capro) want their contract price to move more in line with international sulphur values. The outlook for the metals markets and the fibres sector also is also a little uncertain because poor macroeconomics. In addition, cuts in capro are expected to lead to additional sulphur availability. The Barzan project in Qatar is expected to add some additional cargoes to the market in Q4 which could create some price pressure. Kashagan in the Caspian Sea sent its first crude export since the project started 16 years ago. It remains to be seen how soon sulphur from Kashagan will be seen offered in the international market.
News & analysis
Sulphur news & analysis
ICIS price assessments are based on information gathered from a wide cross-section of the market, comprising consumers, producers, traders and distributors from more than 250 reporters world-wide. Confirmed deals, verified by both buyer and seller, provide the foundation of our price assessments.
Our in-depth market knowledge drives our specialist focus, as we recognise the importance of individual market dynamics and not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Over 25 years of reporting on key chemicals markets, including Sulphur, has brought global recognition of our methodology as being unbiased, authoritative and rigorous in preserving our editorial integrity. Our global network of reporters in Houston, London, Singapore, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Mumbai, Perth and Moscow ensures unrivalled coverage of established and emerging markets.
Sulphur is used in fertilizers, normally in the form of ammonium sulphate, where there is a deficiency of sulphur in the soil.
Sulphur is also used to make sulphuric acid from sulphur dioxide. Sulphur dioxide is used to make dyes and as a bleaching agent.
Sulphur has a pale yellow appearance and has a slight odour of rotten egg. It is insoluble in water, but soluble in carbon disulphide.
It is found in meteorites, volcanoes, hot springs, and as galena, gypsum, Epsom salts and barite. It is also a minor constituent of fats, body fluids and skeletal minerals.
There are two key sources of processing sulphur. The first is the Frasch process, where sulphur is extracted from underground without mining it.
In the Frasch process, underground deposits of sulphur are forced to the surface using superheated water and steam (to melt the sulphur) and compressed air. This gives molten sulphur, which is allowed to cool in large basins. Purity can reach 99.5%. The process is energy intense.
Another source of sulphur is as a by-product of processing crude oil and natural gas, which contain hydrogen sulphide. It is produced in crush lump, flake and prilled form.
Key industrial uses of sulphur includes production of black gunpowder, asphalt, vulcanisation of natural rubber, as a fungicide and as a fumigant, use in the bleaching of dried fruits and for paper products.