HOUSTON (ICIS)--Second-quarter Vancouver sulphur contracts rose to reach $120-170/tonne, as assessed by ICIS on Friday.
The broad range is due to the fluid market, as producers settled at a variety of times in the quarter amid a rapidly changing international sulphur situation.
Contracts have increased $5-50/tonne from the first quarter, when contracts ranged from $115-120/tonne FOB (free on board) Vancouver.
Vancouver contract prices have fluctuated based on the changes in the key sulphur buying Chinese market. Contracts settled earlier in the quarter, when Chinese demand was high and prices were heard ranging from $185-215/tonne CFR (cost and freight), are at the high end of the range.
Chinese buyers do not directly set contracts with Vancouver, instead buying on a shipment-to-shipment basis. However, the contract prices out of Vancouver tend to follow Chinese demand due to the amount they buy month to month and the way their buying power affects the direction internationally.
Chinese buyers retreated to the sidelines in early March, and international prices have collapsed since then. Vancouver prices have followed this trend, and spot prices are now heard ranging from $120-129/tonne FOB Vancouver as prices in China are now heard at $145-160/tonne CFR.
Recent contracts are heard to reflect these levels and are at the lower end of our range.
Vancouver prices have fallen despite continued delays heard at Syncrude. Sulphur loading has been down at the oil sands producer since 9 January. Syncrude was the leading sulphur producer in western Canada in 2013.
Sources have said that the market is still seen as balanced despite the shutdown.