European sulphur acid spot prices stable, market balanced-to-soft

07 February 2014 17:05 Source:ICIS News

LONDON (ICIS)--European sulphuric acid spot prices are stable amid balanced-to-soft market fundamentals, market participants said on Friday.

European buyers say they are sufficiently covered with contract volumes and therefore have no need for additional spot volumes.

Sulphuric acid spot is currently valued at -$10 to +$5 dollars/tonne FOB (free on board) NWE (northwest Europe).

“We are covered with contact volumes and really won’t have any interest until around March when we will start thinking about second-quarter contracts,” said one buyer.

In relation its demand, a second European buyer for the chemical sector said: “I am covered for the first-quarter and looking forward to having discussions about the second-quarter.

“[In terms of] smelter outages - there is nothing happening in the acid market - smelters are running at a decent capacity. Demand for caprolactam [is] not too bad at this moment, the problem is that we are suffering from the benzene prices and this is a big problem,” it added.

On the production side, sulphuric acid producers from elemental sulphur production confirm that the market is balanced, although they would like to see spot prices higher.

“I would love to see spot prices higher, but the market is what it is,” said an acid producer.

First-quarter sulphuric acid contracts settled at €56-85/tonne CFR (cost and freight) NWE.

Upstream, the European sulphur contract price for the first quarter of 2014 was agreed at $129-140/tonne delivered Benelux.

For every tonne of elemental sulphur produced as an involuntary product from oil and gas exploration, three tonnes of sulphuric acid are made.

Fertilizer manufacturing and metal ore processing are the two main applications for sulphuric acid. Others include, oil refining, wastewater processing, pulp and paper production, lead-battery acid manufacturing, nylon production, and chemical synthesis.

By Julia Meehan