Saarland launches tender for hydrogen supply

Stahl-Holding Saar (SHS), the holding company for the steel mills located in Germany’s state of Saarland, has started to invite bids for future supply of hydrogen to the mills.

The tender is a “closed tender” addressing regional companies to supply “locally produced green hydrogen”, Kallanish learns from an SHS statement. The group says it wants to secure up to 50,000 tonnes of green hydrogen for its mills, plate maker Dillinger, SBQ maker Saarstahl, and their joint steelmaking unit, ROGESA.

The tender aims to identify regional hydrogen supplies along the planned hydrogen line grid of the cross-border MosaHYc project in the Grande Région. The start of hydrogen supply is projected for 2027, with the first carbon-reduced steel made using hydrogen set to come from the mills in 2027/28, SHS says. It expects the selection process of the tender to last until the end of the year.

Earlier this year, thyssenkrupp Steel launched a tender for hydrogen supply. It has collected around 40 bids, tk Steel chief technical officer Arnd Köfler said at the recent “Zukunft Stahl” conference. He, too, expects the tender process to take until year-end, he told Kallanish on the sidelines of the conference.

Christian Koehl Germany

Liberty Czestochowa gears up for production restart

Polish heavy plate maker Liberty Czestochowa says it is gearing up for resuming production following a long “period of work interruptions”. Workers at the plate mill returned to their posts last week, while those at the electric arc furnace melt shop are expected back next week after water supply is restored.

“There is still a lot to be done to bring working conditions back to the level they were before production was stopped,” the Polish mill says in a note seen by Kallanish.

The long downtime and weather conditions have impacted the condition of the equipment. Inspections and tests are underway to prepare the units for operation and to ensure the greatest possible safety for the workforce, the firm says. Plate mill tests were due to resume this week.

Czestochowa executive director V. Krishnamoorthy says management is in talks with utilities suppliers to agree terms, while the sales team is already “encouraging customers to confirm orders”. Former Sanjeev Gupta advisor Raghav Aggarwal has been brought in to lead the firm’s “war cabinet”, supporting the management and Liberty European upstream businesses chief executive Theuns Victor in implementing the turnaround plan, he adds.

In a somewhat curiously worded note, the company warns of the importance of health and safety when returning to work. Artur Stysz, chief health and safety and environmental protection officer, notes: “I appeal primarily to management and supervisory staff: a few minutes devoted to remembering the existing threats, safe work methods and protective measures used before starting activity will bring the expected improvement in safety during work.”

The mill’s trade unions met last week with the Czestochowa City Council to highlight the steelworks’ need for working capital. “The Czestochowa City Council appeals to the government of Poland to get involved in finding solutions expected by the workforce and management of the Liberty steelworks,” was the position adopted by all 26 councillors at the session.

“The City Council considers it necessary to take action to protect the Polish steel industry against the negative effects of the EU’s climate and energy policy and to establish uniform rules of support for the steel industry throughout Europe,” it adds. The document is to be sent to Poland’s Prime Minister as well as members of the European Parliament.

Liberty Czestochowa has a 700,000 tonnes/year EAF and 1.2 million t/y heavy plate capacity. Its operational problems have mirrored those at Liberty’s other mills in Central and Eastern Europe.

Adam Smith Poland

Ascometal terminates sale to Acciaierie Venete

The sale of Ascometal’s French units to Italian long steel producer Acciaierie Venete will not go ahead. The Swiss Steel-owned special steelmaker has chosen not to exercise the option-to-purchase agreement signed with Acciaierie Venete, but did not disclose why, Kallanish notes.

The sale, announced in December last year, was to include the Hagondange facility in the Moselle region, Custines in Meurthe-et-Moselle, and the Le Marais plant in the Loire region, as well as Ascometal’s CREAS research centre.

Following the termination of the negotiations with Venete, Ascometal will start judicial reorganisation proceedings – “procédures de redressement judiciaire” – for each of its facilities. A source close to the matter confirms the company will go into receivership and a public tender will be held to find a buyer in the coming weeks.

“The opening of judicial reorganisation proceedings is expected to have no net negative financial impact on the remaining business of the Swiss Steel Group,” the parent company says. It adds it will focus on the development of its core activities.

Natalia Capra France

Northwest EU coil still has room to fall

Coil prices on the northwest European market have gradually softened further, following the same pattern as in previous weeks, with no end in sight yet.

The mark of €700/tonne ($757) for hot rolled coil has been undercut in most of the region. “South and north of the Alps, prices are at below €700/t delivered, in some cases clearly,” an Austrian buyer tells Kallanish. In Austria, buyers may be more exposed to lower offers from Italy, where mills “are more aggressive with prices, while northern mills are trying to maintain the status quo”, he adds.

But sources in the Netherlands, too, report offers at around €690/t, while a German distribution group buyer has heard of transactions done at close to €650/t ex-works. “This is not across the board, and may be confined to some deals with a mill that needs utilisation,” he cautions. He nevertheless believes the bottom is yet to be reached but declines to bet on what level the bottom could be.

“I believe the mills have a price tag for themselves which they do not want to undercut, but don’t ask me where that is,” he says.

He reiterates that not long ago, €700/t for hot rolled and €800/t for cold rolled coil were defined as the lower limit, but these have not held up.

Christian Koehl Germany

Northern European mills decrease HRC offers to attract buyers; trading remains low

The prices for steel hot-rolled coil in Northern Europe continued to decrease on Wednesday March 27, with some mills revising their offers downward to stimulate buying, sources told Fastmarkets.
At the same time, HRC prices in Italy remained largely stable.

Fastmarkets calculated its daily steel hot-rolled coil index domestic, exw Northern Europe at €664.00 per tonne ($719.83) on Wednesday, down by €3.50 per tonne from €667.50 per tonne on Tuesday.

The index was also down by €19.33 per tonne week on week and by €54.96 per tonne month on month.

An integrated mill in Northern Europe has started offering HRC at €685 per tonne ex-works, a buyer source told Fastmarkets. Until recently, mills in the region had offered the material at €700 per tonne ex-works.

A second buyer source told Fastmarkets that the offer levels of the mills in Northern Europe currently vary between €670 per tonne and €700 per tonne ex-works.

A reroller from the Benelux area was heard offering HRC at €650 per tonne ex-works. The previous offers heard from this reroller were at €680 per tonne ex-works.

But demand was weak, and no major deals were heard in the market.

Fastmarkets’ sources estimated the tradeable market level to be in the range of €650-670 per tonne ex-works.

“There is a lot of pressure [on mills in Northern Europe] because demand is very poor. Mills are looking for offers,” the second buyer source said.

The second buyer source added that distributors in the region were hesitant to order new material due to their expectations that prices could fall further.

“In addition, lead times are short and there is enough material on stock,” the second buyer source told Fastmarkets.

On the other hand, the source added there was a risk should mills decide to cut output in a couple of weeks. Thus, lead times would increase.

According to the first buyer source, mills in Northern Europe were offering lead times of 4-5 weeks at present.

A seller source told Fastmarkets that sales were low this week. They also expressed doubt that the lower offers from mills would stimulate buying because downstream demand remained low.

In Southern Europe, Fastmarkets’ corresponding daily steel hot-rolled coil index domestic, exw Italy was calculated at €652.50 per tonne on Wednesday, up by €0.83 per tonne from €651.67 per tonne on Tuesday.

The index was down by €12.50 per tonne week on week and by €62.50 per tonne month on month.

A sole Italian supplier was heard offering HRC at €680-690 per tonne delivered, which nets back to about €670-680 per tonne ex-works.

“However, customers in Italy were reluctant to buy,” a third buyer source told Fastmarkets.

Fastmarkets’ sources estimated the workable market level to be in the range of €640-655 per tonne ex-works.

Sources told Fastmarkets that buyers were also reluctant to buy imports, including from destinations like Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, due to the uncertainty on what will happen with safeguard duties after June 30.