IREPAS : Market starts to gain stability

The 66th meeting of IREPAS (International Rebar Exporters and Producers Association) was held in London on April 1-3, 2012. There were 81 producer representatives amongst the 289 registered delegates from 38 different countries.

Michael Setterdahl, the chairman of the IREPAS Traders’ Committee, stated that traders are now increasingly seeing more regionalization in trade. Traders see the trade to North Africa as quiet, while demand coming from the Persian Gulf region has remained strong and Asian billet demand is mostly met by ASIAN producers  and  Russia’s Far East. Traders expressed their concerns regarding the possible oversupply of steel due to impact of international sanctions against Iran  and also regarding the political upheaval in Syria which has also caused trade to slow down in this region.

Ioannis Meimaroglu, the Chairman of the Raw Material Suppliers Committee, said that scrap collection levels are currently lower than normal. In some places like Russia, this situation has been due to severe winter weather conditions, but generally is due to low market price levels, which are not attractive for local suppliers. Mr. Meimaroglu pointed out that there are new threats which may place pressure on scrap prices, such as freight rate increases and cost increases in some countries, and such as the recent energy cost increase in Turkey. “If such costs are not absorbed by the end product market, the consequences for scrap collection will be very important,” Mr. Meimaroglu warned. Scrap demand remains strong in Europe, in the US and Russia. Short sea scrap suppliers, especially from the Black Sea, expressed the view that it will be very difficult for them to increase their scrap collection volumes due to the price policy of the steel producers. As regards the coming two months, the
lack of container availability is expected to cause scrap supply problems to India and to the Far East in general.

Uğur Dalbeler, chairman of both IREPAS and the Billet Suppliers’ Committee, stated that, due to the situation regarding Iran, steel billet supplies which used to be sent to Iran are now being consumed domestically in the CIS region, where steel billet consumption has remained strong in recent years and is expected to remain strong in 2012. Mr. Dalbeler said that billet consumption in Turkey and the Gulf region has also been strong so far in 2012, and that the outlook for billet consumption in
these areas remains positive. On the other hand, he said that the market situation in North Africa and Syria remains difficult to predict. However, there are positive expectations for steel billet consumption in Iraq. Regarding the Americas, the central and southern American markets have also started importing steel billet and the prospects are bright for these regions. Dalbeler concluded by saying that supply and demand in the billet market are currently balanced.

Kim Marti Subirana, the Chairman of the IREPAS Rebar and Wire Rod Suppliers’ Committee, said that the long steel market has started to gain stability, after the low activity levels experienced in February due to the cold winter in the northern hemisphere, adding that market activity is expected to accelerate in the coming month in line with better weather and increased construction activity.

The European long steel market remained fairly quiet in Q1, according to Kim Marti, while activity is expected to show some improvement in northern Europe in Q2. However, the same cannot be said for southern Europe. The outlook appears very bright for the long steel market in the Persian Gulf region, thanks to the positive economic situation there. Meanwhile, the US seems to be emerging from the recession, Marti said, also remarking that the outlook is good for rebar and wire rod in Central and South America.

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