Northwest Europe plate availability expands, high grades scarce

The spectre of a plate shortage that hit the market north as well as south of the Alps after Russia’s attack on Ukraine seems a thing of the past.

For commodity grades, availability is given, and prices keep softening. Over the course of June, northwest European integrated mills have brought down their offers for S355 to €1,500/tonne ($1,568) delivered, a drop of easily €200-300 since May. “The range is now between €1,500 and €1,600, with very little differentiation for S235,” which has become a minority choice over the years, one buyer tells Kallanish.

The picture is quite different for grades that need to be quenched and tempered, reheated, or processed in any other way. For such services, “the number of players is limited”, and the lead times relatively long, he adds. Lead times at one of the two main German mills already stretch until the fourth quarter, and the other supplier will not be much quicker, the buyer notes.

“Quarto plate mills north of the Alps seem to have well-filled order books,” a Dutch observer concurs. “One mill recently booked a mega-order for the supply of plate to be used in the manufacture of wind turbines in the North Sea.”

According to the German buyer, qualities used offshore require much more processing than commodity grades, “where you are done after some rolling and edge cutting”.

Christian Koehl Germany