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
13/05/24

Potential strike threatens Vancouver port again

Potential strike threatens Vancouver port again

Calgary, 13 May (Argus) — A labour dispute at the Canadian port of Vancouver could result in another work stoppage, less than a year after a strike disrupted the flow of more than C$10bn ($7.3bn) worth of goods and commodities ranging from canola and potash to coking coal. Negotiations between the British Columbia Maritime Employers Association (BCMEA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Ship and Dock Foremen Local 514 union have stalled as the two sides try to renew an agreement that expired on 1 April 2023. A 21-day "cooling-off period" concluded on 10 May, giving the union the right to strike and the employers association the right to lock out the workers. A vote and 72-hour notice would first need to occur before either action is taken. The BCMEA filed a formal complaint to the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) the same day, which had to step in last year in another dispute. The BCMEA locked horns with ILWU Canada over a separate collective agreement in 2023 leading to a 13-day strike by the union in July. This disrupted the movement of C$10.7bn of goods in and out of Canada, according to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. Vancouver's port is the country's largest — about the same size as the next five combined — and describes itself as able to handle the most diversified range of cargo in North America. There are 29 terminals belonging to the Port of Vancouver. Terminals that service container ships endured the most significant congestion during last year's strike. Loadings for potash, sulphur, lumber, wood pellets and pulp, steel-making coal, canola, copper concentrates, zinc and lead concentrate, diesel and renewable diesel liquids and some agri-foods were also disrupted. The Trans Mountain-operated Westridge Marine Terminal responsible for crude oil exports on Canada's west coast was unaffected. A deal was eventually reached on 4 August. The strike spurred on proposed amendments to legislation in Canada that would limit the effect of job action on essential services. A bill introduced in Canada's Parliament in November would update the Canada Labour Code and CIRB Regulations accordingly. The bill has been progressing through the House of Commons, now having completed the second of three readings. By Brett Holmes Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Latest sulphur and sulphuric acid news

Chile’s 1Q24 sulacid imports drop 19pc on port closures


07/05/24
Latest sulphur and sulphuric acid news
07/05/24

Chile’s 1Q24 sulacid imports drop 19pc on port closures

London, 7 May (Argus) — Chile's sulphuric acid imports in the first quarter fell by 19pc on the previous quarter owing to heavy swells at Mejillones port. A total of 875,000t of sulphuric acid was imported in January-March, down by 19pc from 1.08mn t in October-December last year, GTT data show. They were also down by 15pc on the year. The drop was mainly down to heavy disruption at Mejillones, Chile's main import hub for sulphuric acid. The port, which hosts three sulphuric acid discharge terminals, was shut for a record 40 days in January-March owing to heavy swells. The port closures led to lengthy waiting times to discharge, with some ships experiencing nearly 3-4 weeks from arrival at the port, which resulted in high demurrage costs and a lack of spot demand. China regained its position as the key supplier to Chile, with imports rising by 19pc to 342,200t in the quarter, as Asian-origin cargoes looked economically viable owing to sliding fob values, while freight rates remained firm. Imports from South Korea rose by 34pc on the quarter to 145,300t, while Japanese shipments rose by 14pc to 114,300t. Chinese fob values averaged $16/t on a midpoint basis during the quarter, down from $32/t fob on a midpoint basis in the fourth quarter of last year. South Korea/Japanese fob values averaged $8/t on a midpoint basis during the first quarter, down from $31/t the previous quarter. Imports from neighbouring Peru dropped by 34pc on the quarter on a combination of logistical issues stemming from the congestion at Mejillones and some unplanned output issues faced earlier in the year by a supplier in Peru. Imports from European countries continued to slow in the first quarter, falling by nearly 60pc on the prior quarter, as heavy buying by key Moroccan buyer OCP and transport restrictions through the Panama Canal affected trade flows. Belgium was the largest European supplier to Chile, shipping 33,000t, compared with 86,000t the previous quarter. By Lili Minton 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 Coromandel to build Kakinada fertilizer complex


02/05/24
Latest sulphur and sulphuric acid news
02/05/24

India’s Coromandel to build Kakinada fertilizer complex

Singapore, 2 May (Argus) — Indian fertilizer producer Coromandel International will build a 650 t/d phosphoric acid-sulphuric acid complex facility in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh with an investment of approximately 10bn rupees ($120mn). The project is expected to commission in two years' time, CIL's executive chairman Arun Alagappan said on 26 April. Phosphoric acid and sulphuric acid are used in the production of phosphate fertilizers like DAP and NPKs. CIL's new phosphoric acid facility aims to provide for its fertilizer manufacturing and to replace more than 50pc of the plant's import requirements. It also plans to build a 1,800 t/d sulphuric acid plant to supplement phosphoric acid production. 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

US amsul stripping margin rises again in April


19/04/24
Latest sulphur and sulphuric acid news
19/04/24

US amsul stripping margin rises again in April

Houston, 19 April (Argus) — The stripping margin for ammonium sulfate (amsul), driven by higher amsul prices, continued to rise in April even as variable costs grew. The stripping margin increased by nearly $24/st to $270/st for April, up by 10pc from March and up by 13pc from April 2023. Inland amsul trade exceeded $400/short tons (st) this month on continued supply tightness following production outages in the first quarter. Minimal length at New Orleans (Nola) spurred sellers to offer imported tons as high as $405/st fob for first half May delivery. Participants in the amsul market anticipate values to keep rising into May as supply tightness persists. Higher amsul prices have been partially caused by higher costs for inputs. The Tampa, Florida, ammonia contract rose by 7pc to $475/st in April from the month prior and the sulfur Tampa contract climbed by 17pc to $81 per long ton (lt) from the previous quarter. The cost of ammonia and sulfur were 8pc and 27pc lower than a year earlier, respectively. The total variable cost for amsul rose by $10/st in April to $143/st after holding steady in March. Rising ammonia prices have supported amsul variable costs but gains in the price of ammonia have not been as substantive as the market expected, sources said. Applications of ammonia in the US are slowing, which may weaken the price of the Tampa contract, but production outages could offset seasonal declines. Ma'aden's ammonia II plant is due to undergo a month of maintenance starting mid-April. Sulfur prices are expected to remain firm in the near term but lose momentum entering the third quarter on higher refinery utilization in the US and the return of Chinese exports of MAP and DAP, which could oversaturate the phosphate fertilizer market. Sulfuric acid is used to produce DAP and MAP. By Meghan Yoyotte Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Latest sulphur and sulphuric acid news

Tight supplies limit South Korea’s 1Q sulacid exports


16/04/24
Latest sulphur and sulphuric acid news
16/04/24

Tight supplies limit South Korea’s 1Q sulacid exports

Singapore, 16 April (Argus) — South Korea exported 583,400t of sulphuric acid during January-March, 5pc less than a year earlier, according to GTT data, because of production issues and a scheduled turnaround. Sporadic production issues at LS Metals and Materials' Onsan smelter from last year's final quarter reduced export availability from South Korea, pushing buyers to source cargoes from alternative origins like Japan or China. The producer also carried out a scheduled month-long maintenance in March, further cutting production. Spot fob South Korea/Japan prices hovered between $5-13/t fob during this year's first quarter. This provided some much needed stability to prices compared with a year earlier, as high inventories at producers pushed prices into negative territory to a low of -$9/t fob on 23 February 2023. Shipments to India and Thailand fell by 45pc and 21pc from a year earlier to 116,000t and 88,100t respectively, while exports to Saudi Arabia also fell by 78pc to 4,800t. Shipments to Chile more than trebled from the previous year to 161,200t, with the bulk of the cargoes booked to cover annual contracts. Deliveries to mainly high-pressure acid leaching projects in Indonesia rose by 51pc to 76,800t, to supplement operating rates before the start-up of several sulphur burners. South Korea's sulphuric acid shipments in March rose by 5pc from a year earlier to 192,700t, following a round of spot buying from Indonesia and a shutdown at a sulphur burner in Vietnam. Exports to Indonesia in March more than trebled against last year to 39,000t, following a round of spot buying from buyers like stainless steel producer Tsingshan. Exports to Vietnam also increased by 23pc to 9,200t, with cargoes replacing lost supplies because of the closure of a sulphur burner. Exports to India and Thailand slipped by 54pc and 63pc to 37,400t and 13,900t respectively. By Deon Ngee South Korea sulphuric acid exports ('000t) Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.