Turkey’s February slab arrivals soar, all from Russia

Turkey’s slab imports increased again in February, after the January rise, reflecting Turkish flat steel producers’ return to restocking after booking a large – around 200,000-tonne – quantity of Russian slab last October.

Turkish producers returned to restocking around December, when slab prices fell sharply in response to much lower-priced bids, and in expectation of the removal of the Russian ferrous export duty from 1 January. Offer prices were consequently down $100/tonne. The reduction was also supported by softening flat steel segment prices globally.

The February-arrived slab was booked at prices below $600/t fob Black Sea, around $100/t down on-month, with the lowest level registered by Kallanish at $585/t fob in early January. In addition to Russian slab, Turkey also booked at least one lot of Brazilian material, for March/April arrival, also severely down in price due to the US flats price fall in December. An earlier, October-booked lot of Brazilian material arrived in January.

Amid falling prices, a large proportion of Russian slab was also booked by China at the end of the fourth quarter of 2021. This pushed traditional buyers like Turkey and Italy to restock and eventually pushed prices up again starting in January.

From $580-585/t fob Black Sea – $610-615/t cfr Turkey – in early January, the price of slab rose again to $730-750/t cfr Turkey in early February, peaking in early to mid-March at $850-900/t cfr Turkey.

Financial sanctions on Russia and Ukraine’s production halt amid the former’s invasion of the latter resulted in very few bookings at the time. Buyers in non-sanctioning areas – Turkey and Asia – pushed for much lower prices again, and achieved them (see Kallanish passim). Various Asian-origin material has also become available in the Mediterranean, including Chinese, although Turkey is understood to still be seeking Russian slab, at lower prices.

Turkish February slab arrivals were all of Russian origin and totalled 208,077t. Russian-origin sourcing alone was up 21.7% on-month and ten times up on-year. However, overall February slab imports were down 20.9% on-month but up 92% on-year, Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK) data show. Two-month imports of 471,333t were up 68.6% on-year.

Katya Ourakova UK