LONDON (ICIS)--European second-quarter sulphur contract price discussions are still at tentative stages as buyers and sellers closely follow international price developments, sources said on Friday.
“I had some discussions with producers in the last days - informal - just to check,” said a large European buyer.
“This was before Aramco went minus $10/tonne - it seems things are starting to move downwards,” the buyer added.
A seller also referred to Aramco’s April price announcement when talking about second-quarter sulphur contract price developments.
“Here in Europe nothing is happening yet. Only one customer has raised the subject. The latest announcement of Aramco means buyers will wait as long as possible [to agree contracts],” the seller said.
Middle East sulphur prices have been firming since November 2013, while sulphur prices for major importers China have been on the rise since September 2013.
The gains were the result of a lack of availability out of the Middle East caused by producer commitments in the region for north African phosphate makers, coupled with strong domestic demand in Saudi Arabia for Ma’aden and for sulphur exports to China.
The lack of trade flow out of Canada and the Black Sea, due to logistical problems related to the winter, has also contributed to the gains, particularly during the first-quarter.
Saudi Aramco Trading - which announced its April monthly price at a $10/tonne reduction from March - was also key talking point among the international sulphur community and kept Chinese buyers firmly fixed to the sidelines this week.
It is now widely expected among sulphur players that United Arab Emirates-based ADNOC (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company) and Qatar's Tasweeq will both reduce their April prices.
Monthly price announcements are typically made at the end of the current month by both producers.