Global Sulfur Market - Segmented by End-user Industry, and Geography - Growth, Trends and Forecasts (2018-2023)
The Sulfur Market is expected to register a CAGR of 3.2% during the forecast period, 2018 - 2023. The sulfur market has been majorly driven by the growing demand from Asia-Pacific. In 2017, the agrochemical industry occupied the largest market share in terms of the sulfur consumption. It is expected that the healthy growth of the phosphate fertilizer market will drive the global sulfur market over the forecast year.
Rising Demand from the Fertilizer Manufacturing Sector
Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) are the critical components of a well-fertilized crop. However, to achieve good yields and more nutritious foods crops need sulfur (S). Sulfur has various functions in plants, such as synthesis of proteins, chlorophyll formation, essential in the synthesis of oils, particularly in oil crops, and is an active component in the metabolism of nitrogen. Due to emission controls in the last ten years, the sulfur deposition has dropped below the required levels in many crops, especially in Western Europe. Widespread sulfur deficiencies have resulted in the development of a wide range of crop and pasture S-containing fertilizers. Hence, the increase of oilseed rape production for biofuels has resulted in the increased demand for sulfur fertilizers to counter the risk of sulfur deficiency. The strong markets for soybean, corn, and sugarcane, which are used for biofuel production, have resulted in an increased demand for sulfate fertilizers, such as ammonium thiosulfates. Over the next two years, the market for sulfur fertilizers is expected to increase the most, owing to a growing demand from the fertilizer manufacturing sector to overcome the sulfur deficiency that the crops are suffering presently.
Chemical Processing is Aiding the Market Growth
About 90% of sulfur produced or extracted is used to make sulfur dioxide, which is then converted to sulfuric acid. The majority of this acid is used in the production of phosphate fertilizers, a crucial component in the provision of food in the world. To increase the agricultural output in the developing countries of the Asia-Pacific region there is an increase in the demand for sulfuric acid. The increase in the global demand for nylon and titanium dioxide is also boosting the consumption of sulfuric acid as a raw material. This, in turn, is propelling the demand for the global sulfur market.
China is the Leading Sulfur Importer
China is the second- largest producer of sulfur in all forms, globally. China is the world’s leading producer of pyrites, with about 57% of its sulfur in all forms coming from that source. The country is the leading sulfur importer, representing about 35% of the global imports, the bulk of which is used to manufacture sulfuric acid. Energy production in China has been rising in recent decades across the oil & gas sector, leading to a boost in the domestic sulfur recovery. Furthermore, the fertilizer production consumes about two-thirds of the sulfuric acid used in China. In 2014, the government of China loosened the restrictions imposed on the fertilizer industry, which is further estimated to have boosted the fertilizers market. Favorable policies towards fertilizers and the increasing energy production is likely to further augment China as a leading market for sulfur.
Notable Developments in the Market
March 2017: Chemtrade Logistics Income Fund completed the acquisition of Canexus Corp. for about USD 300 million cash.
Major Players: Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, Guangzhou Petrochemical, Sinopec Corp., and OAO Gazprom, among others.
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