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.
How we can help
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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Price History – More information about the historical price data we publish on Sulphur
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News & analysis
News & Analysis - News & market analysis specifically relating to Sulphur
Breaking news of latest developments affecting the markets.
Insight and analysis of factors driving prices.
Sulphur: Market overview
The impact of the tight global sulphur supply may be wearing down as trading activity in China slows down and inventories grow. Supply is not thought to have significantly improved as refinery turnarounds and the regional winter weather continue to be an issue.
However, demand may be abating. There has been some support from the phosphates market, with firm prices for diammonium phosphate (DAP). However, the international phosphates market may not be robust enough to maintain price increases. This may in turn provide a more tempered view for sulphur demand and prices may be subject to decreases.
The low tax window for fertilizer from mid-May in China could lead to a ramp-up in sulphur consumption, but this would be determined by how healthy the export market would be during the tax window.
Going into 2015, the phosphates market will be a key focus as Morocco's OCP is expected to commission its first 1m tonne/year phosphate unit in Jorf Lasfar and this might increase sulphur consumption.
Looking ahead, supply remains a significant factor for the sulphur market. It is unclear when the Kashagan project in Kazakhstan will restart, with some estimates that it may not occur until 2015. In addition, the current scheduling of a first-quarter 2015 start-up for the Shah Gas project in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) remains to be seen, following delays in recent months.
Updated to mid-April 2014
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.