Sulphur Prices, markets & analysis
With a network of price reporters across Asia, Europe and the US, ICIS is fully equipped to keep you updated on everything that happens in the global Sulphur market, whether you buy or sell Sulphur or related products.
From daily and weekly reports containing price assessments obtained by our network of local reporters, to the news and analysis that put the market into focus, we provide the tools you need to make confident 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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Sulphur news and market information products from ICIS
We offer the following regional Sulphur analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Sulphur marketplace.
Price Reporting – More information about the price reports we publish on Sulphur
Independent price assessments and market coverage by region
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News & analysis
News & Analysis - News & market analysis specifically relating to Sulphur
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Insight and analysis of factors driving prices.
Sulphur: Market overview
Updated to Q4 2014
The sulphur market outlook remains rather mixed, with some sources expecting prices to fall as demand slows ahead of year-end. Others, however, are expecting prices to rebound after recent falls as the flow of traded sulphur slows from countries such as Canada and Russia – availability from both regions are often restricted owing to logistical problems caused by heavy snow. In addition, availability from Kazakhstan will continue to reduce. Middle East producers are also optimistic the demand from the Middle East, which is a major producer of phosphate fertilizers, will remain strong as major producer OCP in Morocco continues to expand its phosphate production.
On the buying side, prices in major importing region China started to tail off amid rising stocks levels and a lack of downstream buying interest. Since the international sulphur market looks to developments in China, many buyers believe that the recent price erosion is a sign of the market weakening and availability building.
Going into 2015, the phosphates market will be a key focus, as OCP is expected to commission the first new 1m tonne/year phosphate unit at Jorf Lasfar, which might increase sulphur consumption. Supply remains a significant factor for sulphur looking ahead. It is unclear when the Kashagan project in Kazakhstan will restart – estimates that this may not occur until 2015 have since been revised to 2016. In addition, the current scheduling for the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Shah Gas project for a start-up in Q1 2015 remains to be seen, following the project delays seen so far this year.
The north American sulphuric acid market is expected to tighten through the end of the year, with planned outages at each major producer and a two-month outage at Kennecott. Demand is expected to weaken through the end of the year, but any spot purchases are expected to be at an increase as producers have raised prices.
Sulphuric acid contract pricing is expected to increase from last year, when the range was $85-135/short ton CFR (cost & freight), but quarterly pricing for the fourth quarter is expected to stay close to the third-quarter range of $110-145/short ton CFR.
US Gulf spot import prices are expected to increase slightly to the mid-$70s/tonne CFR from their current level of $70-73/tonne CFR on a balanced European market and strong demand from Brazil and Chile making tonnes more difficult to come by.
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.