Spain’s steel demand rebounds 12% in 2021 to 13.1 million mt

Spain’s steel consumption rebounded close to pre-pandemic levels in 2021 as apparent demand increased 12% year on year to 13.1 million mt, Spanish steel association Unesid said Feb. 21.

The 2021 demand level was just 1% below the 2019 volume of 13.2 million mt, the group said. Spanish demand is typically broken down into around 63% flat products, 33% longs and 4% others, according to Unesid data.

The group said the outlook for 2022 remains positive but only if energy prices, which are now impacting production, fall from their current levels.

Steel production in Spain slowed 2% year on year in November and 4% year on year in December amid soaring power and gas prices, it reported.

Nonetheless, overall production in 2021 was 14.2 million mt, up 27% year on year and up 4% from pre-COVID-19 levels, Unesid said.

Spain has 22 steel production sites with a total capacity to produce 17 million mt/year from electric arc furnaces and 6.6 million mt/year via the blast furnace and basic oxygen furnace route. Usually around 85% of annual production is non-alloy steel. The country’s highest production to date was of 19 million mt in 2008.

With global economies recovering from pandemic restrictions, both imports and export volumes rebounded in 2021.

Spain imported 10.1 million mt of steel in the year, up 12% year on year and a two-year high, with import volume from within the EU rising 30% year on year, Unesid said. Around 70% of imports are usually flat products.

Exports increased 19% year on year to a three-year high of 9.5 million mt, with the volume going to other EU nations rising 29% year on year, leading to a trade surplus in financial terms of Eur658 million ($745 million), up 36% from 2020. Spanish steel exports usually comprise about 55% long products, with around 30% flat products and the remainder semi-finished goods, according to Unesid data.

The group noted that the volume of scrap recycled increased 22% in 2021 to 11.1 million mt. The total was also 6% higher than the 2019 total, Unesid said.

— Gianluca Baratti