Thursday, September 18, 2014

US spot prices for natural gas

Gas consumers in the USA will be watching US spot prices for natural gas with interest. These gas prices have been dropping month by month, with each of the last six monthly price movements being downwards.

As a result, the natural gas spot price (in US $ per million metric British Thermal Units) at the Henry Hub terminal in Louisiana has now fallen from $.5.97 in February 2014 to just $3.88 in August 2014.

Can the downward price trend continue much longer?

For monthly US gas prices, visit

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Sunday, July 06, 2014

Greenfield steel projects not viable

Greenfield steel industry projects are not viable, says Lakshmi Mittal.

Given the glut of steel production capacity around the world, ArcelorMittal will not be pursuing greenfield projects or significant merger-and-acquisition activity. The Luxembourg-based steelmaker, the world's largest, is instead focused on using its existing capacities most effectively, Mittal said.

Lakshmi Mittal was speaking at the AMM XXIX Steel Success Strategies Conference in New York on 17th June.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Andrzej M Kotas - LinkedIn profile

In case it is of interest, you can see my LinkedIn profile (including some of the previous roles I have had in the steel sector) at

Andrzej M Kotas, MBA
Managing Director
Metals Consulting International Limited

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Steel industry crossword puzzle

We have a new crossword puzzle on our website, to test your skills.
26 different clues, all relating to iron and steel.

Visit to try our latest puzzle.
Good luck…

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Transport cost advantages - steel production in Africa

Our consultants have just been looking at the economics of iron and steelmaking in Africa. This is an interesting topic because of the various raw material export bans and import tariffs that often come into play.

However, we have also been looking at competitors’ steel transport costs from countries such as Japan, South Korea and India, to ship steel in to East Africa. Currently, this transport cost is around $75/tonne or more, a factor which really transforms the profitability of steel production in Africa.

For further information about the cost competitiveness of steel production in Africa, contact our steel industry economists.

Andrzej M Kotas, MBA
Managing Director
Metals Consulting International Limited

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Monday, March 03, 2014

China Bans New Steel Industry Projects

To alleviate oversupply in the blown up steel sector, China has decided to ban new steel sector projects for the next 4 years. Overcapacity has been a cause of concern for China’s steel industry for some years, causing huge losses at highly indebted mills, wasting resources and compelling steel mills to depend on government subsidies.

The Chinese government has put additional capacity creation under firm controls and the amount of further capacity will be extremely small. China has about 300 million tons of surplus steel capacity, which is equivalent to roughly double the total output of the European Union last year. Even then, mills have continued to expand and added ~70 million tonnes of new steel production capacity in 2013.

As part of a plan to clean up the environment and deal with steelmaking overcapacity, the Chinese government will also close ~90 million tonnes of obsolete steel mill capacity in the Northern provinces by 2017.

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Friday, February 28, 2014

POSCO to replace five CEOs

POSCO Group is to replace CEOs at five of its six business units as part of the newly-named chairman Kwon Oh-joon’s reform plan to overhaul the world’s fifth-largest steel maker. On Friday, POSCO affiliates announced the key agenda of their shareholders’ meeting planned on March 17, including candidates of new in-house directors who are likely to be named their new CEOs. According to their statement, POSCO's Shin Jung-suk is the only one who will retain his job due to his successful management performance.

Wow!  Might steel producers in European benefit from similar treatment? I bet they would...

Visit for further world steel news reports.

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Saturday, February 08, 2014

Signs of steel market recovery?

As ArcelorMittal report improving profits [see], should we assume that European steel is on the road to recovery?

European steel demand is expected to grow by up to 4 per cent this year, compared to a decline in demand of 0.6 per cent last year. The United States, ArcelorMittal's largest market, is expected to do even better, up by as much as 4.5 per cent in 2014 compared to a contraction of 0.5 per cent during last year. For discussion about this, see

Nonetheless, with steel demand increases of 4-5 per cent plus additional price improvements (feeding straight through to the bottom line) 2014 should indeed be a much better year for the big steelmakers.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Steel industry competitor analysis

Did you know that we help a lot of clients with steel industry competitor appraisal?

Whether you are interested in supply shares for production of a given steel product, competitor material flow charts, competitor cost benchmarking or even a SWOT analysis for a particular steel facility – contact us. We should be able to help you. For more information visit

Andrzej M Kotas
Chief Executive
Mobile: +44 775 149 0885

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

European Green Party fights steelmakers on climate change

In a fascinating article, the European Green Party today suggests that European steelmakers are wrong in their attitude to adaptation to climate change.

Europe's steel industry – say the Greens - is caught in the grips of the economic crisis. With reduced industrial activity, the demand for steel has plummeted. Since the beginning of the Great Recession, steel demand in the EU-27 has dropped by around 25 per cent. Simultaneously, new industrial powerhouses such as China and India have increased their share in the global steel market, putting pressure on European steel companies. This has hit the European industry hard. According to the Greens however the industry seems to have mistakenly believed that it would enjoy its preeminent position with a constantly growing world hunger for steel ad infinitum.

Now – say the Greens – the sector is struggling to find a way out of this dilemma. Restructuring efforts such as closing down production sites or reducing output has shed about 40.000 jobs. Yet, the steel sector is not recovering. As a truly European industrial sector with over 500 production sites split between 23 EU member states, the steel industry has appealed to the European Union for help in these difficult times.

Regrettably, instead of addressing the root problem of the situation - depressed demand, over-capacity and a lack of a movement to higher value-added steel production - the industry has made the EU's climate and energy framework responsible for its conundrum. Climate and energy policies - from the steel industries' perspective  'are destructive, are badly constructed and have to be changed'. The steel industry in particular calls on the EU to revisit its policies to bring down energy prices for industry, which they say have increased due to the EU's climate and energy framework such as the emissions trading system.  Dr Eder, CEO of the Austrian steelmaker Voest Alpine, has said that EU climate and energy policies are among the main causes for the deindustrialisation in Europe.

This short-sighted approach is – suggest the Greens - faulty in two fundamental ways. First and foremost, it does not take into account the large variety of exemptions and free CO2 allocations that the steel industry enjoys, which cushions the impact on energy prices. According to an analysis by the Oeko-Institute, energy-intensive industry in Germany such as steel receives a CO2-cost compensation; receives free CO2 emission allowances that can be sold for a profit or banked for the future given that production has decreased; and is exempt from paying fees for energy network use. Combined with the fact that the increase in renewable energies has actually over time led to a decrease in energy prices of about 10 €/MWh, the Oeko-Institute comes to the conclusion that the energy-intensive sector in Germany would [with a smart energy procurement strategy] almost reach parity with its counterparts in the US when it comes to energy prices.

Secondly, by attacking the energy and climate agenda, the European steel industry is actually undermining the very agenda that provides a vision for addressing the overcapacity crisis which it is facing. It's simple: the European steel sector has a clear demand-side problem. Neither the construction nor the automotive industry can come to its rescue and solve this. But, a clear focus on sustainable infrastructure development could bring hope suggest the Greens. After all, renewable energies need a lot of steel they propose. A single 3MW wind turbine needs the same amount of steel as about 500 cars. Improving the energy performance in existing buildings by setting ambitious standards could lead to a veritable renovation boom that would be a boon for the steel industry. Fuel efficiency standards would also provide an opportunity for developing and selling new light-weight steel products as would hybrid and electric cars, all of which would help the European steel industry move into an increased value added speciality segment allowing it to open up and conquer new markets.

This discussion is certain to continue. To see the original article however visit

Dr Andrzej M Kotas

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