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Updated to Q4 2017
Strong demand and crushed lump sulphur shortages coupled with lower Middle East operating rates caused shortages of sulphur in China through much of the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, weakening consumption from the end of November saw the market rebalance to an extent. In India domestic supply was tight, forcing players to strongly return to the import market by the end of the quarter.
China saw high consumption throughout the second half of 2017, but particularly from October to late November, which caused prices to jump significantly. From 5 October to 16 November, China sulphur import prices rose by 55-56%.
The strong demand was partially linked to downstream players moving some 2018 production forward to avoid a new environmental tax, which comes into effect on 1 January, and in part due to restocking ahead of the Lunar New Year. Demand fell back once lead times meant that purchases would not arrive in time for these two purposes.
In India, buyers moved to the sidelines through much of the quarter amid a perceived pricing bubble in China, nevertheless, by December consumers were forced to re-enter the import market.
Updated to Q4 2017
In the Mediterranean, supply from local producers was plentiful due to high refinery run rates. Nevertheless, this came as global supply tightened due to low operating rates in the Middle East, and the damage from Hurricane Harvey in the US. In Russia, Austrofin Gazprom Export cancelled Q4 contracts because of low availability, tightening the Black Sea region.
In the Mediterranean, reliance on domestic product meant that buyers stepped out of the import market through most of the quarter. Traders meanwhile were diverting material to other more profitable regions. Mainland Europe supply and demand remained balanced throughout the quarter.
Updated to Q4 2017
Middle East supply was tight through much of the fourth quarter amid low operating rates and strong offtake from China until late November. The downstream MWSPC DAP expansion has limited the availability of sulphur from Saudi Arabia. The long delayed Kashagan project in Kazakhstan has not begun exporting sulphur. The first batch of export crude oil from the Kashagan Oil Field took place in October 2016, and the site had been expected to be regularly exporting sulphur by the end of 2017, but it is yet to export a single tonne. Kashagan is understood to be blocking sulphur, with Integer forecasting that exports will ramp up during 2018 before adding 1m tonnes/year of sulphur exports to the market once it reaches full capacity in 2019.
China, the Middle East's major trading partner, saw high consumption throughout the second half of 2017, but particularly from October to late November, which caused prices to jump significantly. From 5 October to 16 November, China sulphur import prices rose by 55-56%. The strong demand was partially linked to downstream players moving some 2018 production forward to avoid a new environmental tax, which comes into effect on 1 January, and in part due to restocking ahead of the Lunar New Year. Demand fell back once lead times meant that purchases would not arrive in time for these two purposes.
ICIS provides pricing information, news and analysis for all major petrochemical and chemical markets, including Sulphur.
We offer unbiased and independent price reporting, with our price assessments being widely quoted as benchmarks in contracts.
Our information is collected from market participants by our global network of reporters, delivering unrivalled coverage of established and emerging markets, including China and Asia.
ICIS price assessments are based on information gathered from a wide cross section of the market, comprising consumers, producers, traders and distributors. Confirmed deals, verified by both buyer and seller, provide the foundation of our price assessments, giving you a robust reference for your negotiations.
ICIS collects pricing data on a wide range of chemical, energy and fertilizer products, including Sulphur. Our extensive experience in price reporting means we can offer you access to historical data dating back more than 20 years for certain commodities.
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ICIS price assessments are based on information gathered from a wide cross-section of the market, comprising consumers, producers, traders and distributors from more than 250 reporters world-wide. Confirmed deals, verified by both buyer and seller, provide the foundation of our price assessments.
Our in-depth market knowledge drives our specialist focus, as we recognise the importance of individual market dynamics and not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Over 25 years of reporting on key chemicals markets, including Sulphur, has brought global recognition of our methodology as being unbiased, authoritative and rigorous in preserving our editorial integrity. Our global network of reporters in Houston, London, Singapore, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Mumbai, Perth and Moscow ensures unrivalled coverage of established and emerging markets.