Overview

The global sulphur market has gone through fundamental changes in buying patterns, trade routes and pricing over the past few years. Fixed price contracts and formula-based indexation have become the dominant ways in which supplies are bought and sold around the world, which makes accurate price assessments and detailed analysis key to any sulphur market participants.

The global sulphuric acid industry has seen structural change in recent years and new capacities will continue to challenge the balance in the years to come. While demand will be driven by fertilizers — predominantly the increased production of phosphate and ammonium sulphates — the market will continue to be exposed to short-term supply shocks, especially from the metals sector.

Rising demand for battery materials such as nickel and cobalt (due to growing electric vehicle production) will in turn bolster demand for sulphur and sulphuric acid, increase competition for supply and impact pricing.

Our extensive market coverage includes formed sulphur (both granular and prilled), crushed lump sulphur, molten/liquid sulphur and sulphuric acid. Argus has decades of experience covering these markets, and incorporate our multi-commodity market expertise in key areas including phosphates and metals to provide the full market narrative.

Argus support market participants with:

  • Price assessments (daily and weekly for sulphur, weekly for sulphuric acid), proprietary data and market commentary assessments
  • Short and medium to long-term forecasting, modelling and analysis of sulphur and sulphuric acid prices, supply, demand, trade and projects
  • Bespoke consulting project support

Latest sulphur and sulphuric acid news

Browse the latest market moving news on the global sulphur and sulphuric acid industry.

Latest sulphur and sulphuric acid news
17/07/24

German sulphur exports drop 53pc in Jan-May

German sulphur exports drop 53pc in Jan-May

London, 17 July (Argus) — German sulphur exports halved in the first five months of this year, GTT data show, as production has declined and consumption is recovering from the post-pandemic slump. Average monthly exports dropped to just 11,000t from 23,000t in the same period last year. Imports remained stable at 23,000t. Top export markets in 2023 Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Sweden dropped to zero this year. Belgium previously received 52,000t, Netherlands 26,000t and Sweden and France 13,000t each. Minor Swiss exports at 7,000t maintained stable. German sulphur production has dropped as a result of sanctions on Russian crude imports. This has particularly impacted the 150,000t/yr sulphur capacity TotalEnergies Leuna and the 175,000t/yr PCK Schwedt refineries previously connected via pipeline to Russian crude supply. Sanction impact was followed by Red Sea insecurity cutting a further 10pc of the region's sulphur production as Middle East feedstocks declined, and sweeter slates became even more widespread. European refineries, German plants included, were running at high rates last year with refining margins very high, and this year's maintenance season has been heavier as a result of deferred turnarounds. In Germany, Miro's 131,000t/yr sulphur capacity Karlsruhe refinery was under maintenance in April. Two refinery conversions to biofuels production are planned to take place in 2025, with Shell's Wesseling plant to take 80,000t/yr of sulphur production capacity off line and BP's Gelsenkirchen a further 25,000t/yr. This is a trend repeated in other countries in the region, in a move to meet emissions reduction targets, so sulphur production is set to decline further. Sulphur consumers which have struggled with low downstream demand, high energy prices and inflation, as well as competition from cheaper Chinese imports of caprolactam and titanium dioxide, are beginning to see some improvements. The European fertilizer industry has been more resistant, and some capacity additions are bucking the general European trend. This has led to several companies targeting the European molten sulphur market with high-priced spot tonnes in this year, as well as others accelerating planning of new remelting capacity, to address the deepening shortages. Some companies are looking into adding molten sulphur tanker capability to import more spot tonnes to the liquid-only market, where most buyers have no capacity to handle solid sulphur imports. New projects along these lines are expected to be announced in the coming months. By Maria Mosquera Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

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Latest sulphur and sulphuric acid news

Germany's Aurubis copper smelter back from maintenance


12/07/24
Latest sulphur and sulphuric acid news
12/07/24

Germany's Aurubis copper smelter back from maintenance

London, 12 July (Argus) — Germany's Aurubis today announced that its Hamburg copper smelter returned to service on 11 July from the largest maintenance shutdown in the company's history that began 7 May. A restart is now under way following the €95mn 60-day maintenance that included an overhaul of the flash smelter, installation of heat exchangers in the contact acid plant, as well as the installation of a tap hold drill and tamping machine for improved safety of copper slag tapping. Hydrogen-ready anode furnaces were also installed as measures to improve sustainability. Investments in automation are set to improve efficiency and extend the frequency of planned maintenance rounds to three years from two. The Hamburg smelter's outage has exacerbated sulphuric acid tightness in Europe , and the operational restart is expected to provide some relief to the market. This comes in addition to the lack of availability of molten sulphur in the region, leading to shortages of sulphur burnt acid , which has prompted some consumers to replace burnt acid with smelter acid, lifting demand. Aurubis produced 1.19mn t of sulphuric acid during the first six months of the 2023-24 financial year (October-March), up by 1pc on the same period a year earlier. Output at Aurubis' Hamburg smelter rose by 11pc to 512,000t in the period, while output from the Pirdop smelter saw a 6pc decline on the period to 679,000t . For the first three months of the year, Aurubis produced 598,000t of acid, unchanged from the same quarter of 2022-23, as increased output at its Hamburg smelter offset a decline from Bulgaria's Pirdop plant. Production at Hamburg totalled 258,000t from January-March. By Maria Mosquera Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Latest sulphur and sulphuric acid news

Australia’s BHP to import sulphuric acid for Lynas


12/07/24
Latest sulphur and sulphuric acid news
12/07/24

Australia’s BHP to import sulphuric acid for Lynas

Singapore, 12 July (Argus) — Australian resources firm BHP has "affirmed its commitment to using reasonable efforts" to supply imported acid to Australia-listed mining company Lynas Rare Earths, Lynas said today. This comes after BHP announced a temporary suspension of its Western Australia nickel business from October, citing bearish expectations against nickel prices. Lynas has a supply contract with BHP Nickel West for the provision of sulphuric acid from the Kalgoorlie nickel smelter or imported sources to its Kalgoorlie rare earths processing facility, with the initial term until 30 June 2027. By Deon Ngee Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Latest sulphur and sulphuric acid news

Brazilian sulphur imports dip 20pc in 1H24


10/07/24
Latest sulphur and sulphuric acid news
10/07/24

Brazilian sulphur imports dip 20pc in 1H24

London, 10 July (Argus) — Brazilian imports dropped by 20pc in the first half of 2024 from a year earlier, with June imports down by 3pc on the same month last year at 264,000t. Imports in January-June totalled 1.19mn t, GTT data show, a drop of 310,000t on the year. Imports from the US were broadly stable at 407,000t, with the US Gulf coast the top sulphur supplier to Brazil. Fertilizer producer Mosaic typically moves product from the Gulf coast to Santos, while some trader business also takes place from the Gulf coast to Brazilian sulphur consumers. Saudi Arabian imports rose by 24pc or 50,000t to 263,000t, as demand from China and Indonesia was lacklustre, prompting tonnes to move westwards. Kazakh sulphur shipments dropped by as much as 65pc to just 98,000t, as more Kazakh product has been moving to Morocco. Kazakhstan was the top supplier to Morocco in the first four months of this year, the latest GTT data for this route show, at 1.26mn t, more than twice as high compared with a year earlier. Changed trade flows are a response to altering vessel traffic. As the security situation in the Red Sea region leading to the Suez Canal has deteriorated, most sulphur shipments are now taking the longer route around the Cape of Good Hope. This has increased freight rates to Morocco from the Middle East, making Brazil a more logical route for Saudi exports, while Kazakh product moving from the Baltic to north Africa has a freight advantage over Brazilian deliveries. Deliveries from the UAE dropped by 27pc to 152,000t and from Qatar by 27pc to 109,000t, as these suppliers looked to markets east of Suez for the best netbacks with lower freight costs, raising exports to China substantially , while also supplying some tonnage to Indonesia. A three-week maintenance period is scheduled at the Santos Tiplam terminal, used by Mosaic to receive its sulphur vessels, from 10 July. This will limit vessel arrivals through the period, and further spot sales are expected for August arrival. Brazilian sulphuric acid imports totalled 298,000t in the first half of 2024 , up by 22pc on the year, as burning capacity remains limited and the market has favoured sulphuric acid imports over sulphur. Unigel's new sulphur burner did not come on line at the beginning of the year as expected, and Unigel's fertilizer operations were suspended in early March for an indefinite period. By Maria Mosquera Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Latest sulphur and sulphuric acid news

India’s Fact buys sulphuric acid for September


10/07/24
Latest sulphur and sulphuric acid news
10/07/24

India’s Fact buys sulphuric acid for September

Singapore, 10 July (Argus) — Indian fertilizer producer Fact has awarded its 1 July tender seeking 10,000-12,000t of sulphuric acid to west coast-based smelter Hindalco at 7,515 rupees/t cfr, equivalent to around $90/t cfr. The cargo is expected to discharge over 1-7 September at Kochi port. Fact also previously booked sulphuric acid from Hindalco at the equivalent of $84/t cfr through a tender that closed on 29 April. By Deon Ngee Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.