For the Quarter Ending June 2021
In North America, prices of Sulphur fluctuated on monthly basis during this quarter, as the demand and supply gap kept changing month over month. During April, several refineries resumed their operations after prolonged shutdowns due to devastating winter of February, which effectively improved the supply of Sulphur in the country. In May, Sulphur prices declined effectively, as the supplies of crude-based Sulphur restored efficiently from domestic refineries. However, despite of improvement in supply chain activities, prices witnessed marginal gain in effect of rise in demand from downstream fertilizers segment in the second half of Q2. Thus, prices of Sulphur witnessed marginal surge from USD 161/MT to USD 162/MT in the mid of June in USA.
Sulphur prices surged consistently during this quarter, as the demand from downstream manufacturers remained firm in this timeframe. In Chinese market, unprecedented rise in offtakes from downstream fertilizer manufacturers amidst concerning shortage, caused the prices of Sulphur to rise effectively in the country. Meanwhile, in India, similar scenario was observed where the offtakes from downstream fertilizer manufacturers remained high to satisfy the overall demand. Therefore, a rise by more than 10% and 8% was observed in the Indian and Chinese market, where prices settled at USD 246.8/MT and USD 224/MT in India and China respectively during the month of May.
European market witnessed stability throughout the quarter, as the demand from downstream fertilizers and Sulphuric Acid sector showcased firm sentiments across the region. Besides, supply activities improved effectively supported by improved logistics and waterways operations along with the resumption in plant operation from some of the major refineries in Europe. Following improvement in demand, as supplies also improved effectively during this timeframe, prices thus showcased just a marginal revival across the region.
For the Quarter Ending March 2021
North America’s crude-based Sulphur output was heard to be curtailed as an effect of cold snap which hit across the US gulf coast (USGC) area in mid-February. Most of the refineries remained shut during February, due to unfavourable operating conditions under freezing weather, thus the output for Sulphur significantly reduced which supported the prices. Although the demand for Sulphur from the downstream sectors remained low, but due to lack of availability and soaring crude derivatives prices, prices of Sulphur increased during February by USD 5/MT and remained stable till the end of March at USD 135/MT.
Despite of facing feeble demand from the end-user industries, prices for Sulphur followed upward trend across Asian region. Lower output from the US after freezing cold, created a global shortage for most of the prime chemicals including Sulphur, meanwhile the demand for crude-based Sulphur in the global market was high that supported its prices in the Asian region. The CFR price of Sulphur in the Indian markets hovered around USD 199.93/MT, showing gains from USD 167/MT levels in January as crude hits fresh hikes in March. Similar scenario was observed in China where the prices soared due to domestic shortage, after lunar new year holidays.
The European market faced shortage of Sulphur amid fair demand from the downstream sectors. Although the supply remained curtailed due to planned and unplanned shutdowns heard from major refineries of France and UK during this time. In addition, container shortage and high shipping freight provided further boost to the prices of Sulphur forcing international traders to resist European Sulphur stocks.
For the Quarter Ending September 2020
The Asian Sulphur market showcased mixed sentiments amidst sufficient supply and revival in the downstream demand by the end of September. China’s stocks climbed to 3 million tonnes, adhering a much higher increment as compared to its usual stock level that hovers between 1-1.5 million tonnes. Pent-up downstream demand from detergents and fungicides prompted recovery in the consumption of Sulphur in India and China. Although demand was still bearish in Q3 of 2020, but it remained way above the groundbreaking lows witnessed in the previous quarter. As confirmed by traders, Sulphur prices of remained in the range between 90-92 USD per tonne CFR China.
Majority of the operations in the U.S. Sulphur market were halted towards the end of August under the fear of Hurricane Laura in the US Gulf Coast. Logistics were adversely disrupted laying a direct impact on the supplies of Sulphur across the US. Suncor Sulphur announced a planned maintenance turnaround in mid-September that further exacerbated the supply crisis in the last few weeks of September. Although burners were operated at efficient rates in tandem with strong demand pattern as a major fertilizer producer was heard announcing a massive surge in its Sulphur intakes. However, limited production restricted the export revenues of the US Sulphur market.
Extended turnarounds in refineries as a repercussion of Covid-19 restricted the supply of Sulphur across the European market. The supply also got affected under the stress of shifting to a low Sulphur fuel on various government initiatives released in concern with the increasing environmental distress. Although demand remained stable in Q3, low offtakes from the downstream capro sector delayed the revival in its overall demand fundamentals. With the economy paving its way back, the demand for Sulphur from various downstream segments is anticipated to revive prominently by the next quarter.