The Sulphuric Acid markets are covered weekly by ICIS in the World Sulphuric Acid Weekly report. This independent and trustworthy publication gives price assessments for spot markets in China, Japan/Korea, southeast Asia and India, while contract prices are quoted for northeast Asia and southeast Asia.
Our market intelligence is gathered by our locally based reporters and gives details in the commentary about exports, downstream movements, shipment, freight rates and any other factors influencing prices. There is also coverage within the monthly Sulphur & Sulphuric Acid Outlook report. If you are involved in this market or other related markets, this essential tool can help you to make those crucial commercial choices.
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Sulphuric acid: Market overview
Updated to Q2 2018
Because of a backlog of contractual commitments, and players, particularly in Chile, booking spot volumes further ahead, supply is expected to remain tight until at least the third quarter of 2018. Korea-Zinc is sold out of material until at least the end of June. PASAR’s smelter in the Philippines remains under force majeure, which began on 8 January because of typhoon damage.
In China, weak domestic demand resulting from low operating rates at downstream compound fertilizer units could encourage higher export quantities in the second quarter. Consumption from Chile and India, meanwhile, is expected to remain firm because of high copper prices and the approach of the typhoon season respectively.
European spot supply is expected to remain tight until at least Q3 because of the backlog created by a heavy maintenance schedule in 2017, coupled with a continued focus on domestic contract markets and players booking volumes further out to ensure availability. European producers were targeting Q2 price rises of up to €10/tonne by early April because of a combination of ongoing supply shortages and a weaker US dollar. Some buyers warned that a continual push for quarterly contract price rises may result in the opening of future arbitrage opportunities and a shift away from European supply. Nevertheless, global markets are expected to remain short of product until at least Q3, limiting the opportunities for arbitrage. Low vessel availability is putting upward pressure on freight prices from Europe, and causing difficulties in sourcing ships, traders said.
Traders and buyers are becoming increasingly concerned about the security of supply in 2018, with some sellers saying they have been asked to delay deliveries to some customers to ensure greater stock availability throughout the year. In addition, higher base metal prices relative to the same period in 2017 continue to encourage run rates in South America. India is entering the peak downstream demand season. Despite rising demand, low availability means that spot deals are expected to remain few and far between from Europe in Q2.
Supply is likely to remain short, in line with the rest of the world, during Q2. Cargoes being brought in from offshore on a spot basis will help the fundamentals from moving further out of balance. Sulphur supply is expected to loosen as well, which will bolster sulphur burner acid production.
The outlook for demand in comparison to Q1 is somewhat unclear, because Q1 saw abnormally strong demand. However, demand will certainly remain strong on the back of the AS plant coming online in Illinois, along with the fact that many US suppliers are already sold out for the year.
News & analysis
Sulphuric acid news & analysis
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 Sulphuric acid, 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.
Sulphuric Acid Methodology
About Sulphuric acid
A key use of sulphuric acid is for the production of fertilizers. Other uses include the production of carbon disulphide, sulphur dioxide and phosphorous pentasulphide; pulp and paper; and rubber vulcanising. Sulphuric acid can also be used in its diluted form as battery acid for the automotive sector.
Sulphuric acid is colourless in appearance and of an oily liquid consistency. It is both corrosive and toxic and has the ability to cause serious burns. In addition, it is harmful through inhalation, ingestion and through skin contact.