Northwest European plate prices differ widely

Prices for commodity plate on the northwest European market, even from domestic mills, are currently heard diverging by as much as €250/tonne ($247).

Sources from both distributors and mills agree that peak offers of €1,300/t for S355 do occur, although the mainstream price is seen easily at around €1,100/t ($1,087). One big player especially is fairly saturated with project business that demands high-grade plate, and hence will offer commodity grade only at high prices.

“They [aforementioned mill] sit on a high horse, and can cherry-pick orders, so they ask for prices only few will pay,” a German distributor’s manager says. Asked who would buy, an observer from another mill adds: “Maybe distributors in which it [the mill] owns stakes and which need to buy a certain share of material from the parent.”

He sees the low end at “closer to €1,000 than €1,050”, but notes that this is not the mainstream either. “It’s not the cheapest supplier that makes the market price. Not everyone would buy there. Buyers are pretty much diversifying their sources, after all,” he tells Kallanish.

Notably, high-grade plate products have an effect on commodity pricing, while maintaining a price logic of their own. “They are pretty much detached from the development of commodities,” the mill source says. “After all, not everyone can make boiler plate, let alone different qualities for one boiler in one order.” They also face less competition from imports, which for commodities are undercutting the €1,000/t cfr mark, “but you’d have to wait until March/April [for delivery],” the German buyer says.

Pricing on the higher-end is not only more stable but also more homogeneous. According to an Austrian buyer, they are based on logical parameters like need for orders and capacity. “Up there, mills are pretty unanimous with assessing the market,” he says.

Christian Koehl Germany