Syncrude Canada sulphur loading to stay down until 20 May − sources

23 April 2014 20:43 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Sulphur loading at Syncrude Canada will be down until 20 May at the earliest, sources said on Wednesday.

Sulphur loading has been down at the oil sands producer since 9 January.

Loading was previously heard to be scheduled to restart in late April, and truckers were heard to have been told to target 26 April.

Syncrude said it originally shut down sulphur loading due to the product not meeting quality specifications, and that loading was expected back up on 1 February.

Syncrude has not commented on the delays.

Sources have said that the delays have been due to the transfer line from the upgrading facility to the loading trucks freezing during the cold January.

In 2013, Syncrude produced 712,216 tonnes of sulphur, according to the Alberta Energy Regulator, making it the leading producer in western Canada. Syncrude shipped 614,828 tonnes of its production.

With Syncrude down, Vancouver sulphur exports have fallen significantly from 2013. Total shipments have been 376,201 tonnes through February 2014, down 36% year on year.

Some sources have said the fall in exports is due strictly to Syncrude, but the market is heard to be balanced despite the outage.

The Vancouver sulphur market has a broad price range, but levels have been decreasing in the wake of lower demand from key buyer China. Sources said spot price ideas for sulphur are $120s/tonne FOB (free on board) Vancouver as the prices in China are heard in the $150s/tonne CFR (cost and freight).

Sources have also commented that demand has been good from regions other than China, and that it may be possible for producers to achieve higher levels in the Oceanic region.
By David Tonyan