THE MEPS GLOBAL STEEL PRICE FALLS TO ELEVEN AND A HALF YEAR LOW

Steel markets around the world are oversupplied relative to current demand. This, along with cheap raw materials, has resulted in the September steel price collapsing to its lowest level since February 2004.

US market conditions for flat rolled products continue to be challenging. The domestic steelmakers are faced with strong competition from imports, heightened by the strength of the US dollar. Imported tonnages, ordered before the recent filings of trade cases, continue to flood in. Volumes are expected to decline as time progresses. Overall demand, with the exception of the energy sector, is relatively good. Oversupply is the issue, leading to short delivery lead times and high inventories at the service centres. Moreover, low scrap costs are creating even more downward pressure on steel prices.

The Canadian economy is weak and steel market conditions are soft, especially in the energy and mining sectors. Mill order books are not full, despite brisk sales to the US, boosted by the weakness of the Canadian dollar. Flat product prices are stable, for now. Import volumes have slowed down. Service centres report steady business levels. As their inventories are quite high, a degree of destocking is underway.

The Chinese economy continues to slow, with a consequent impact on steel consuming industries. Oversupply continues to lead to a negative price tendency in the domestic market. Further pressure has been put on selling values by the ever-declining cost of raw materials. The supply glut at home, has forced the mills to offer even more substantial quantities to overseas markets.

In Japan, weak market conditions have resulted in price cuts, in September. In July, finished steel orders fell by 2.1 percent from the outturn in the previous year. Domestic demand decreased by 6.1 percent, as consumers, expecting price falls, refrained from purchasing. Moreover, business activity has still not recovered from the April 2014 consumption tax increase. Exports, in the same time frame, continued to rise, helped by the weaker yen.

Despite the depreciation of the local currency against the US dollar, South Korean exports do not appear to be increasing. Steel sales to overseas markets, in August, dropped by 17.0 percent, year-on-year. Meanwhile, imports jumped 14.0 percent in the same period, on stronger demand from the construction sector. Planned consumption tax cuts, from 5.0 percent to 3.5 percent, on autos and home appliances, should help to stimulate these markets, hopefully leading to stronger sales for the steelmakers.

In Taiwan, demand from foreign and domestic customers is weak. Major integrated producer, CSC, is preparing to lodge anti-dumping lawsuits against imports of steel from South Korea and China. Prices appear to be stabilising, following the deterioration that took place over the summer.

Source: MEPS International Steel Review – September Issue

ITALIAN STEEL PRICE ROUNDUP FROM MEPS INTERNATIONAL LTD

Italian hot rolled coil prices have decreased, in September, according to MEPS. Distributors and end-users are already starting to reduce inventories for the end of year. They will only buy for immediate needs. Domestic suppliers have been forced to align their selling values with import offers.

Hot rolled plate re-rollers are beset with problems as export markets are depressed. Moreover, transport costs prevent them from selling in the higher demand region of northern Europe. Falling slab costs, together with low import offers, will, no doubt, influence future pricing policies.

Cold rolled coil basis figures have declined. Large quantities of third country material have arrived in the country. Service centres report that demand has been reasonable since the return from the summer holidays as auto and white goods activity picked up, albeit from a low level. However, resale customers continue to push for bigger discounts.

Structural sections transaction values have stabilised, after falling in July, despite negative movements in the scrap market. The construction sector is suffering from a lack of investment in major infrastructure projects. Purchasing activity has been slow since the return from the holidays.

Demand for rebar remains light after the holidays. A lack of export opportunities has put further downward pressure on domestic basis values. Meanwhile, merchant bar buyers have secured a marginal price reduction during recent negotiations.

Source: MEPS – European Steel Review – September 2015 Issue

Primetals Technologies receives final acceptance from Elbe-Stahlwerke Feralpi for continuous billet caster

  • Technical improvements to the machine head and secondary cooling improve quality
  • Production capacity increased by 20 percent to 1.2 million metric tons per annum
  • Modular design and pre-assembly shorten installation and downtimes

Elbe-Stahlwerke Feralpi GmbH (ESF), a German steel producer and part of the Feralpi Group, has issued the final acceptance certificate for a modernized, five-strand continuous billet caster in its Riesa plant. Primetals Technologies received the order in May 2014. The aims of the project were to improve the internal and surface qualities of the billets, and to increase the production capacity by 20 percent. This was achieved by installing a new machine head, which included DiaMold molds and a retractable DynaFlex oscillator, as well as by optimizing the secondary cooling. The new plant has a modular design, and was pre-assembled to keep installation and downtimes short.

The five-strand continuous billet caster owned by ESF in Riesa was installed in 1994 by a third-party supplier. It had an annual production capacity of around one million metric tons of billets with square cross-sections of 130×130, 140×140 and 160×160 millimeters. The plant has a machine radius of six meters and reaches casting speeds of up to 3.8 meters per minute. It casts low and medium-carbon steels, which are further processed in a wire rod mill in the Riesa plant. Retractable DynaFlex mold oscillators were installed to increase capacity. This solution enables the mold on a strand to be exchanged without interrupting the casting process, increasing both the productivity and the flexibility of the casting plant. All mechanical connections are released hydraulically at the touch of a button. The complete machine head, including mold and oscillator, is moved from the casting position to the maintenance position on a mobile platform. The time between stopping and restarting the strand to change a mold is between just 15 and 20 minutes. In this time, the mold is exchanged, the dummy bar is brought in, and the mold is prepared for casting. The existing secondary cooling was converted and extended by adding a fourth zone to ensure optimal cooling even at higher capacities.

To increase product quality, the casting plant was equipped with new DiaMold molds to increase product quality. The technical features of the oscillators include stroke adjust capability during operation, and the option of selecting from a range of sinusoidal and non-sinusoidal oscillation parameters. An OsciMon system monitors the movements of the molds, and visualizes the measured values of frequency and stroke in all three dimensions. The equipment installed during the course of the modernization was designed to keep downtimes as short as possible. The modular design concept was selected for its focus on ease of installation. Primetals Technologies system parts were also pre-assembled and tested according to the proven “Connect & Cast” plant conversion philosophy to shorten installation times on site. As agreed, the plant was converted during the 2014 Christmas stoppage. One major reason for winning this order was the good results Feralpi had obtained with the modernized, four-strand continuous billet caster in Acciaierie di Calvisano, Italy, which Primetals Technologies had also modernized at the beginning of 2013.

Source: Primetals Technologies

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IMPORTS DRIVE EU STEEL PRICES DOWNWARDS IN SEPTEMBER

Despite strengthening demand in a number of west European countries, flat product domestic selling values are being negatively influenced by the availability of very low-priced third country import offers. Cheaper raw material and energy costs are contributing to the situation. Market sources are quite pessimistic about the coming months. As a result, buyers expect further price reductions.

In Germany, the auto sector continues to perform well but has slowed a little, as a result of a fall in sales to China, brought about by currency exchange rate changes. The construction industry is also slowing as the winter season approaches. Service centre stocks are quite full after the holidays. However, end-users are only taking what they need for immediate use, as they anticipate even lower prices in the future. Consequently, resale values are under pressure.

The French market was muted at the beginning of September. Activity was expected to pick up, slightly, towards the end of the month, due to restocking. Market participants foresee their order books at similar levels to those in previous months. They believe that the difficult situation in China and other regions represent a threat. Producers have tried to resist negative price pressure with mixed results.

The Italian steel market has deteriorated over the summer, leading to feelings of insecurity amongst buyers and sellers alike, despite signs of some small recovery in the general economic situation. Cheap imported material is the major disruptive factor. On the demand side, the auto sector is performing well, thanks to investment in new models. The mechanical engineering segment saw some improvements at the start of the summer. Service centres report that their sales volumes are positive, compared with earlier in the year, but resale prices are poor. Competition in that sector is severe.

In the UK, distributors report that demand has remained good but that their buying prices have fallen, for the fourth quarter. Resale values have moved down, slowly and steadily, in tandem with mill figures. Service centre inventories are low relative to demand. Traders’ stocks at the docks are also depleted as caution prevails.

Prices remain on a slow, downward trend in Belgium. Turkish and Chinese imports are available. Even if customers do not purchase this cheap material, because of the long delivery lead time involved, they use the low figures in negotiations with their European suppliers in order to obtain discounts. Companies do not need to build stocks as steel can be acquired very quickly.

A massive increase in the availability of cheap third country imports occurred in the Spanish market during the summer. This has led to a series of domestic basis price reductions for November rollings of all flat products. As there is still a large differential between local and foreign figures, buyers expect further discounting for December. Underlying demand is reasonable. There has been a sharp impact on distributors’ resale values since July. Margins have been squeezed.

Source: MEPS – European Steel Review – September 2015 Issue

NEW BF5 AT TARANTO WILL USE BEST AVAILABLE TECHNOLOGIES

In March 2015, following a decision of the Government of Italy, ILVA had to shut down No. 5 Blast Furnace, the largest one at Taranto works. The plant shall be upgraded by EU-defined Best Available Technologies in order to match latest environmental standards.

As a result of the bidding process, the Paul Wurth group has been awarded several packages for engineering, supply and installation of technologies which will make up a state-of-the-art ironmaking facility.

On the side of hot blast generation, the four existing Krupp-Koppers units will be completely replaced by a group of three one-dome hot blast stoves with external combustion chamber. This sub-plant will also feature Paul Wurth’s patented waste gas heat recovery system and a complete EIC system.

Performance and maintainability of the BF top gas cleaning plant will be improved by replacement of the existing dust catcher, and by modification of the scrubber system.

At the slag granulation plant, a new, sea-water based steam condensation system will eliminate the release of sulphur-laden steam to the atmosphere.

Finally, the furnace’s stockhouse gets a brand new de-dusting system with equipment rated for a 2,000,000 m3/h suction capacity and ensuring a maximum of 5 mg/Nm3 dust content in the air leaving the stack.

A challenging schedule foresees project completion by Paul Wurth within 12 months.

After completion of this large-scale reline project, Taranto’s steel plant will be able to operate its new BF5 in compliance with the latest environmental and safety standards.

Source: Paul Wurth

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The blast furnace in Luleå is ignited

After more than three months’ renovation work, blast furnace 3 in Luleå has been ignited. This will be followed by several days’ start-up work before the furnace can commence production.

“I’m pleased to be able to announce that we’ve ignited the blast furnace. It will now take a few days before the entire blast furnace process has stabilized and the production of slabs can get underway,” says Nils Edberg, SSAB’s site manager in Luleå.

Starting up a blast furnace is a protracted process involving great sensitivity which is carried out in several stages. First of all the furnace is filled with birch wood logs coke, slag formers and pellets, and yesterday the blast compressor ((which can be likened to the furnace’s gas pedal)) was started to supply the furnace with blast air. Today, the blast furnace was ignited by site manager Nils Edberg, using an oxygen torch.

In addition to the renovation of the blast furnace, two new LD ovens have been installed at the steel mill, while the coking plant has obtained a new quenching tower within the scope of the extensive investment and renovation program at SSAB in Luleå during the summer.

“With the investments we have now made, we are ensuring Luleå’s efficiency and slab production for a long time into the future,” says Nils Edberg.

Source: SSAB
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