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 Q4 2017
Asian supply remains extremely tight and is expected to remain that way until the first quarter of 2018 due to a heavy outage schedule (see smelter section). However, several sources said they expect availability in South Korea and Japan to improve gradually across the fourth quarter as maintenances come to an end.
With tight supply expected to last until at least the first quarter of 2018, underlying demand remains difficult to gauge, as material outside of contract is unavailable.
The majority of European producers are sold out of spot material until the end of 2017 amid a heavy global turnaround schedule in the fourth quarter, particularly in Asia, and a focus on servicing contracted volumes. Sellers are seeing an increase in inquiries from non-typical trading partners, with India frequently mentioned, although these have yet to translate into firm business.
European producers are expected to continue to focus on contracted volumes during the fourth quarter, with the majority having no spot availability outside of small loads. In Chile, the majority of buyers remain covered for product, limiting activity. KGHM is understood to be looking for 10,000 tonnes of product for December delivery and Mantos Copper is looking for 20,000 tonnes for November/December delivery, although this is being met with little available material on offer. In Brazil, demand remains strong.
Supply in the US seemed to be trending more toward balanced from tight as the fourth quarter commenced, with the potato harvest season ending and most of the year’s planned turnarounds now complete. The last two turnarounds for 2017 will be Freeport McMoRan in Arizona and a short half-week maintenance for Kennecott in Utah. Vale in Canada is now functioning with just one furnace after transitioning down from two, as planned.
With supply balancing out, higher levels of demand are not expected at the end of the year. Metals prices have also come off after spiking to strong levels. The US market is mainly domestic at this time, making it somewhat buffered from the global tightness and high demand currently being seen, because it mainly pulls tonnes from Canada, which sends very little acid elsewhere.
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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.