Liberty Steel hot idles its Galati blast furnace in Romania

Liberty Steel has decided to hot idle its blast furnace (BF) in Galati, Romania, due to difficult market conditions, a company spokesperson told Fastmarkets on Thursday May 30.
The company did not comment on the timeline for the equipment stoppage and did not provide an approximate restart date when contacted by Fastmarkets.

“To ensure a profitable and sustainable production at Galati, we have decided to enter a temporary hot idle period and continue operating our downstream mills from slab stocks,” Liberty Galati’s spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that Liberty Galati’s teams would continue working full shifts.

According to the spokesperson, during this period, the company will focus on conducting maintenance and repairs to improve the performance and reliability of the BF and on consolidating the order book “for customers in the profitable market segments”.

The steelworks in Galati, located on the west bank of the Danube River, southeastern Romania, has installed capacity to produce 3.5 million tonnes per year of hot-rolled coil, 1 million tpy of cold-rolled coil, 1.2 million tpy of steel plate, and 350,000 tpy of hot-dipped galvanized coil, according to Fastmarkets’ information.

But the company has recently been running at reduced rates, with only one BF out of five operational.

The situation is similar for Liberty Steel’s other capacity in Central Europe specialized in the production of flat steel.

BFs No2 and No3 at the Ostrava steelworks, in the Czech Republic, remain idled, despite initial plans by the company to restart BF No3 at the beginning of this year.

The restart of BF No3 was postponed due to a dispute over unpaid bills between Liberty Ostrava and its power supplier Tameh Czech.

Liberty Steel restarted the rolling lines at the Dunaferr steelworks, Hungary, in January this year, after four months of downtime, but hot steel operations at the facility are still idled.

According to market sources, Dunaferr is using Russia-origin slabs to feed the rolling lines, with monthly output estimated at around 10,000-15,000 tonnes of HRC. The company might use the same feedstock to operate rolling lines in Galati, sources suggested.

In December last year, the European Commission confirmed a quota extension for Russia-origin slab until 2028, despite heavy criticism from European steelmakers.

Market brief
Meanwhile, the European flat steel market is still struggling with slow demand from all key steel-using industry sectors, according to sources.

Prices for HRC in Central Europe had started to increase since the beginning of the year, due to a pickup in apparent demand, but the upward trend only continued until mid-February, when prices started to decline.

Attempts by European steelmakers to increase prices in late April and early May were largely unsuccessful due to poor demand.

Since the beginning of May, prices for HRC in Central Europe have been stable.

Fasmarkets’ weekly price assessment for steel hot-rolled coil domestic, exw Central Europe, was €630-640 ($682-693) per tonne on Wednesday, unchanged since May 1.

Published by: Julia Bolotova, Darina Kahramanova