HOUSTON (ICIS)--Syncrude Canada has delayed the restart to its sulphur loading until April at the earliest, a source said on Wednesday.
Syncrude said it originally shut down sulphur loading due to the product not meeting quality specifications. The initial shutdown date was heard to be 9 January.
Syncrude had said in January that loading was expected back up on 1 February, but it has not commented on the delays. The reason for the delays was heard to be that the transfer line from the upgrading to the loading trucks has frozen due to winter weather.
The additional delays are heard to be due to problems with repairing the transfer line.
Syncrude is western Canada’s leading producer of sulphur, with 650,359 tonnes produced in 2013 through November at its Mildred Lake facility, according to the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER). Of the production, 578,881 tonnes of sulphur were shipped to the market.
The most recent delay would cause sulphur loading to be down at Syncrude for all of Q1 2014. In 2013, Syncrude shipped 162,024 tonnes of sulphur during Q1, according to the AER.
A producer said expectations for the spot price have increased this week to $185-190/tonne FOB (free on board) Vancouver on the tight supply situation in Canada and continued high prices in China, up from $170-180/tonne FOB Vancouver as assessed by ICIS on 27 February.
Sulphur is an involuntary byproduct recovered from oil and gas production. About 90% of sulphur is used for the production of sulphuric acid, of which close to 60% is used to make phosphate fertilizers.