Sulphur prices in China show first gains since February

09 May 2014 11:12 Source:ICIS News

LONDON (ICIS)--Sulphur prices in major importing country China have shown the first signs of upward momentum since early February on the back of some renewed buying interest, sources confirmed on Friday.

Spot sulphur prices in the key Chinese market are currently valued at $145-170/tonne CFR (cost and freight) China, moving up from $145-160/tonne CFR one week ago.

“Demand is growing, but it’s not going crazy,” said a major supplier of sulphur to China.

A second seller said: “There is some upward movement in the market but it’s still a bit quiet I would say. Apart from deals reported in China, I’ve not had many other shipments this month.”

The increase in spot prices in China is far from dramatic, but sources say it gives a clear indication that the sulphur market has found some price stability having fallen on a weekly basis since early February.

“Now that Middle East producers have brought their prices down, people will come back to buy,” said a trader supplying China and India.

Middle East sulphur producers Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) ,Qatar’s Tasweeq and Saudi Aramco Trading all brought their April and May monthly prices down.

The trader however said demand was not as strong as it would have expected ahead of the low export tax window for phosphate fertilizers in China.

Sulphur demand in China is largely determined by phosphate fertilizer production which is about to enter a critical phase in the Chinese fertilizer calendar since the low export tax window in China opens on 16 May.

Phosphate stocks in China are heard to be building at ports, with talk of some 400,000-500,000 tonnes already lined up waiting for export - India is expected to take 60-70% of its fertilizer requirements from China.

Sulphur is an involuntary by-product recovered from oil and gas production. Some 90% of sulphur is used for the production of sulphuric acid, of which close to 60% is used to make phosphate fertilizers.

By Julia Meehan