The price of solid formed sulphur in fob Vancouver, quoted in US dollars has been taken as the market bench mark for many years. It is considered as a price range of sulphur in international market. There may be variety in the price as it is negotiated by the customers and exporters.
The market structure of sulphur is divided into contract and spot basis. A vast majority of producers and consumers show their interest in contract based production or consumption. On other hand considerable amount of sulphur is sold and bought on spot basis. Although, the spot market is very uncertain but direction of spot prices set the tone for the rounds of contract negotiations.
Many main suppliers from middle east, don't involve in the business directly and use intermediate persons or companies.
India was the world's largest spot market, before China. But in 1992 sulphur purchasing monopoly of MMTC (Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation) was terminated and no any clear attempt was made to reestablish a consortium. Still users like Coromandel Fertilizers have long-term contracts for supply.
The market structure of sulphur causes the high uncertainty in its price. The diversity can be understood by taking the example of 2001, when iport prices of sulphur dropped to $26-32/tone cfr in India, and rose to above $100/tone cfr in 2005. Same thing happened in the case of China, it rose from $30-33/tone cfr to $90-100/tone cfr. In 2004 both India and China imported 8.8 million tons of sulphur which was 33% of world trade. China market continued the import to the higher rage as of 2005. As the sulphur imported by China was supplied by various traders and manufacturers on both contract and spot basis, and also the requirement is high, price development in China is important for the world market.
Despite of large contracts between producers and consumers, considerable amount of sulphur is sold and bought on spot basis.
Outside the India and China, producer-user business trend is increasing, where producers are using trading companies as their marketing agents. Chinese import has become a threat for such development also, as its continuously increasing requirement would compete for the share of growing market.
There are many researches done by the inventive minded people for making use of sulphur in various fields such as asphalt, concrete, fluorescent lights and more. The reason for searching more uses of sulphur is its large quantity and versatility. Traditionally sulphur is used in metal leaching, phosphate fertilizer production etc. Many market strategist consider capturing the market is better than developing the market. Still, It is worth to develop new market into the centre of new era of management of sulphur as there are opportunities.
Currently oil and gas industries are developing continuously. They contain hydrocarbon with high concentration of sulphur which is recovered for the quality of fuels. This recovery of sulphur from gas and oils has led to the rising global surplus of sulphur.
Also merchants of middle east prepare to recover natural gas in millions of cubic meter, with sulphur (2% to 30%), which would add 10 million tones to 40 million tones already in the market.