Indian sulphur market sees little demand on expected price falls

06 March 2014 16:14 Source:ICIS News

LONDON (ICIS)--Sulphur demand for the Indian market is dwindling ahead of the country's financial year-end and also as the market waits for final subsidy figures for fertilizer buyers, sources said on Thursday.

“In India, local [phosphate] producers have produced a lot [of phosphate fertilizers] - India sulphur CFR [cost and freight] offers are at $210/tonne,” said an Indian trader.

“But people are not really buying  - everybody is looking for prices to come down,” the trader added.

For every tonne of sulphur involuntarily produced from oil and gas exploration, three tonnes of sulphuric acid are made  - this is then used to produce phosphoric acid, which in turn produces phosphate fertilizers.

The trader said that it had reduced its daily sulphur off-take from a major Indian sulphur supplier from 300-400 tonnes/day to 100 tonnes/day.

Another active trader selling to the India sulphur market described its demand as “very weak”.

“Demand in India is very weak. PPL (Paradeep Phosphates Limited) will retender at the end of April/early May and IFFCO (Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative) is going into maintenance," the trader said.

“The financial year is coming and there are subsidy issues so there is a slow down in demand. This is the time of year when [sulphur] demand is India gets very slow. Demand will pick up in May, ahead of the monsoons in June ,” the trader added.

Sulphur prices in India are currently quoted in the low-$200s/tonne CFR India.

Although demand is weak, Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd (FACT) has issued a purchase tender for 15,000-25,000 tonnes (+/- 10%) of sulphur for April arrival in Cochin, India.

“Under the terms of the tender, the cargo should arrive between 10-14 April 2014. The tender closes at 14:30 IST (India Standard Time) on 11 March and offers are requested to remain valid until 18:00 IST on 17 March,” a source confirmed.

By Julia Meehan