Tight supplies limit South Korea’s 1Q sulacid exports

  • : Fertilizers
  • 24/04/16

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.

South Korea sulphuric acid exports ('000t)

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