German steel off a bit in November as EAF output continues to slide

German crude steel production in November fell 0.3% year on year to 3.4 million mt as electric arc furnace production continued to fall steeply, according to data published Dec. 20 by German steel federation WV Stahl.

The monthly volume was also down 7.9% from the 3.7 million mt crude steel produced in October.

Year-to-date output was up 13.5% to 36.9 million mt, as the industry continued to recover after pandemic-related shutdowns.

Electric arc furnace output continued to fall in November due to high energy costs and supply chain problems, with 30.1% of the total volume being produced by EAFs, down from 33.3% a year ago and 31.0% the previous month.

EAF output was down 9.8% on the year and slipped 10.6% from October to 1.01 million mt, although the year-to date EAF volume was still up 6.5% to 11.5 million mt.

German steel mills produced 2.35 million mt of crude steel in November using blast furnace-basic oxygen furnace, up 4.5% year on year but down 6.7% from October, with the January-November volume up 16.9% on the year to 25.4 million mt.

Pig iron production rose 5.1% on the year, but dropped 4% on the month in November to 2.2 million mt, while hot-rolled steel products increased 4.3% year on year to 2.8 million year on year, which was down 8.4% from the previous month.

Looking ahead, a Benelux service center source told S&P Global Platts: “Mill production will be stable, it’s risky if they will still produce when inventories are so high. Automotive demand optimism is returning, the market says they’re doing well and it will be better in first quarter — [production] is really dependent on this.”

The source added that the surge of COVID-19 cases in Europe could impact staffing at mills, leading to “big problems” for production.

A second Benelux service center source said that most mills were booked for January-February so he did not expect any production ramp-up in the new year.

“Imports are risky because of pending duties, quotas. People are not in a hurry to buy, mills are not increasing prices,” the second source said.

— Jacqueline Holman, Amanda Flint