Energy intensive industries, including metals, call for clearer EU action over gas, electricity

The series of measures discussed at the EU’s Energy Council Sept. 9 lacked a sense of urgency and required elaboration, associations representing European ferrous and non-ferrous metals producers and miners, among other European groups, said in a joint statement Sept. 13, calling for immediate and precise relief measures.

The association had previously sent a letter from energy intensive industries, signed by Eurofer, Eurometaux, Earomines and Euroalliages, among others, to the EU presidency Sept. 6 calling for urgent and effective action at EU level on gas and electricity prices.

While the Energy Council acknowledged the pressure increasing electricity and gas prices had on inflation and the EU economy and the threat to the competitiveness of European companies, the associations said many of the measures discussed required further elaboration, as they were worded in broad and sometimes vague terms and were unclear in their application to industry.

“We call upon Europe’s leadership to provide industry with immediate and precise relief measures that can be implemented swiftly to ensure the continued viability of the operations in Europe,” the associations said.

In the previous letter, the energy intensive industries had referred to the destructive consequences of high energy prices. which had already caused the reduction or closure of production at a number of plants in different sectors.

The Dutch TTF gas spot price peaked at Eur334/MWh three weeks ago, which the associations pointed out was 15 times higher than its pre-crisis level, 10 times more than US prices and much higher than prices in Asia.

“With every day that goes by, the situation grows worse with potential irreversible consequences on investments in Europe,” they said Sept. 13.

A number of steelmakers have been impacted, with Slovakia’s US Steel Kosice idling one of its three blast furnaces for 60 days for maintenance, long steel maker Stahl Gerlafingen in Switzerland reducing operating hours during October to December and ArcelorMittal temporarily shutting three blast furnaces — in Bremen, Germany, Gijon, Spain and Dunkirk, France.

In the aluminum sector, several European producers have been impacted, with shutdowns taking place at Norsk Hydro’s Slovalco smelter in Slovakia, Alro’s alumina facility in Romania and Damco Aluminum Delfzijl Cooperatie’s Farmsum plant in the Netherlands.

There has also been a 33% curtailment at Alcoa’s Lista smelter in Norway, a 20% production cut at France’s Aluminium Dunkerque, a 59% production cut at Speira’s Rheinwerk smelter in Germany and reduced output at Alcoa’s San Ciprian alumina refinery in Spain.

Hydro also decided to keep smelting pots at its Husnes and Karmoey plants in Norway offline after normal maintenance due to lower aluminum demand.

— Jacqueline Holman