Sulphur

ST98

This section provides an overview for sulphur:

Sulphur is a chemical element found in conventional natural gas, crude bitumen, crude oil, and coal. Primary sulphur production is a by-product of processing crude oil and natural gas, which contain hydrogen sulphide (H2S). It is extracted and sold primarily for making fertilizer. Currently, most produced sulphur is derived from the H2S contained in about 20 per cent of the remaining established reserves of conventional natural gas.

Crude bitumen in oil sands deposits also contains significant amounts of sulphur. As a result of bitumen upgrading operations, an average of 90 per cent of the sulphur contained in the crude bitumen is either recovered in the form of elemental sulphur or remains in the by-products from upgrading bitumen, such as coke.

About 65 per cent of Canada’s sulphur is produced in Alberta, and the majority of this Alberta production is shipped outside the province. Globally, about 10 per cent of sulphur is used as elemental sulphur; the remaining 90 per cent is consumed as sulphuric acid. Agricultural use, specifically as phosphate fertilizer, accounts for about 60 per cent of overall consumption. Sulphur use for metallurgical purposes is small, less than 10 per cent, but is expected to grow.