The Outlook Sulphur and Sulphuric Acid monthly report forms part of the comprehensive and trustworthy coverage of the Fertilizer markets. The unbiased news and analysis includes sections on market overview, key drivers, regional updates, supply and demand outlooks as well as forecasts and any other factors driving prices. If you are involved with these or related markets, this independent and essential business tool can help you to make crucial strategic decisions. Integer Research produces the Outlook reports on behalf of ICIS.
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The Outlook Sulphur and Sulphuric Acid: Market overview
Updated to Q2 2017
With Russian river navigation having recommenced on 1 April, and lower downstream demand in China, sulphur prices are expected to fall in the second quarter.
Following Gazprom's lack of material in the first quarter, second quarter exports from the region are expected to increase substantially, leading to a lengthening in supply. On top of that, additional sulphur projects are expected to bring in fresh volumes this year.
Lower demand in China and higher global availability has also put downward pressure on export prices from Vancouver. A shutdown at Syncrude’s Mildred Lake oil sands operations, following a fire, did however, limit the downside on prices. Syncrude has advanced its turnaround, which was expected to last eight weeks, and due to begin in April.
In Europe, downward pressure has also come from several caprolactam (capro) maintenance outages in April/May, along with a force majeure at both of Fibrant’s capro plants in Geleen.
Updated to Q2 2017
The global sulphuric acid market is expected to remain balanced during the second quarter owing to fundamentals.
Product from northeast Asian smelters is understood to be mostly sold out until June, with most tonnes accounted for and a slight reduction in output across the year expected.
Moroccan buyer OCP is expected to continue to consume good volumes of acid, helping to balance European producers as markets such as Cuba are no longer available.
Demand from Latin American, notably Chile, remains mixed, and while there has been un uptick in spot demand, unplanned shutdowns are clouding the immediate outlook.
Brazil is expected to continue to secure cargoes at competitive levels, however, less Mexican acid is being offered to the region.
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The Outlook Sulphur and Sulphuric Acid news & analysis
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The Outlook Methodology
About The Outlook Sulphur and Sulphuric Acid
Sulphur is used in fertilizers, normally in the form of ammonium sulphate, where there is a deficiency of sulphur in the soil.
Sulphur is also used to make sulphuric acid from sulphur dioxide. Sulphur dioxide is used to make dyes and as a bleaching agent.
Sulphur has a pale yellow appearance and has a slight odour of rotten egg. It is insoluble in water, but soluble in carbon disulphide.
It is found in meteorites, volcanoes, hot springs, and as galena, gypsum, Epsom salts and barite. It is also a minor constituent of fats, body fluids and skeletal minerals.
There are two key sources of processing sulphur. The first is the Frasch process, where sulphur is extracted from underground without mining it.
In the Frasch process, underground deposits of sulphur are forced to the surface using superheated water and steam (to melt the sulphur) and compressed air. This gives molten sulphur, which is allowed to cool in large basins. Purity can reach 99.5%. The process is energy intense.
Another source of sulphur is as a by-product of processing crude oil and natural gas, which contain hydrogen sulphide. It is produced in crush lump, flake and prilled form.
Key industrial uses of sulphur includes production of black gunpowder, asphalt, vulcanisation of natural rubber, as a fungicide and as a fumigant, use in the bleaching of dried fruits and for paper products.
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.