ASEAN Sulphur Market Observed Mixed Sentiments in the Final Quarter of 2021
- 29-Dec-2021 5:29 PM
- Journalist: Xiang Hong
Since the mid of the third quarter, the port congestion in the Northeast Asian region had duly impacted the arbitrage throughout the Asia Pacific, amidst the high freight charges and tightened availability of freight vessels. In response, the offers for imported Sulphur from middle-east soared tremendously, and FOB Qatar/UAE offers have stood within rangebound of USD 245 – 262 per tonne in early December. A rapid surge in global Sulphur offers was majorly concentrated in the second half of 2021 has narrowed the profit margins, which further prompted numerous buyers in the South East Asian region to hold off the procurement of imported Sulphur. The situation further worsened as supplies were difficult to cope up with the influx in demand amidst the lower operating rates at the refineries because of COVID restrictions.
Numerous market participants were anticipated that the availability in Malaysia was likely to remain tight till the second half of 2022. As the state-owned Petronas 300,000 b/d Pengerang refinery had kept the granular Sulphur production in check, whereas due to the COVID restrictions and technical issues the Malacca refinery had curtailed the production of Molten Sulphur. The upcoming joint-venture between Aramco and Petronas was anticipated to restart in the second half of 2021. Whereas the wait and see sentiments were strengthened at the spot market of Vietnam, & Thailand and the downstream players were holding off the buying momentum till late January in anticipation of eased offers and low inventories. However, the elevated Sulphur prices have not dampened buying sentiment amongst the downstream players in Indonesia.
As per ChemAnalyst, the offers for Sulphur have soared to a historic high in the fourth quarter of 2021, and the freight charges eased comparatively but remained high. However, it was witnessed in December that the pricing trajectory slowly started to stagger in the downward trajectory after peaking to a historic high in early December and anticipated to follow the current pricing trajectory in the upcoming period. However, growing cases of omicron variant presented numerous uncertainties for the Sulphur prices.