EghtesadOnline: Major Iranian steelmakers exported 1.582 million tons of semi-finished and finished steel products during the first quarter of the current fiscal year (March 21-June 21), registering a 2% growth compared to last year’s corresponding period, Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization reported.
The export volume for Khordad, the third Iranian month (May 22-June 21), stood at 651,058 tons, up 8% year-on-year.
The IMIDRO data released on Monday is a preliminary report on major producers’ exports. A more comprehensive and detailed version, including smaller private mills’ performance, often follows in about two weeks' time by the Iranian Steel Producers Association.
> KSC Tops the Charts
Khouzestan Steel Company was the biggest exporter in spring, as it shipped 809,429 tons of slab, bloom and billet overseas, up 66% YOY, Financial Tribune reported.
Bloom exports made up the bulk of KSC's shipments with 442,122 tons and were up 186% YOY.
The company's billet exports, however, were down 61% to 107,048 tons. Slab shipments remained relatively unchanged at 260,259 tons.
KSC’s exports during the third month were up 36% to stand at 349,072 tons.
Khouzestan Steel Company became Iran’s largest exporter of steel last year (March 2016-17) by shipping 1.9 million tons, overtaking Iran's largest steelmaker Mobarakeh Steel Company for the first time.
The company shipped about 52% of its 3.6-million-ton output for the year with its profits jumping over 300% compared to the year before to 6.7 trillion rials ($176.31 million).
KSC currently exports to 13 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region, Far East and Americas.
> Existential Necessity of Exports
Esfahan Steel Company was the second biggest exporter in Q1 with 361,307 tons of beam, rebar, coils and other products shipped overseas, up 88% YOY.
Rebar made up 56,123 tons of overall exports, registering an 87% growth YOY, followed by beam and coils with 32,746 tons and 5,515 tons respectively. No significant change was recorded in ESCO's exports of beam and coils compared to last year. Steel products listed as "other" made up 258,713 tons of exports, up 99%.
ESCO shipped a total of 228,630 tons during the third month, up 598% YOY.
It is Iran’s oldest steelmaker and one of the country’s largest producers of structural steel. It was jointly established in 1965 by Iran and the Soviet Union’s Tyazhpromexport Company. The major long steel producer is exporting all its products for now, according to the company’s managing director, Ahmad Sadeqi.
"Domestic demand is quiet and 100% of the company's products are being exported for the time being," he said.
"Esfahan Steel is surviving on its profitable exports. We hope this will continue in the future."
Increasing exports is an existential necessity for ESCO, as the company is deep in debt and cannot count on the local market for sustained demand.
According to the latest statistics released by ESCO on Tehran Stock Exchange, the listed company's debts stood at 69.4 trillion rials ($1.85 billion) as of March 21. The figure is in fact about 13 trillion rials higher than the value of ESCO’s noncurrent assets.
Bad debt is keeping investors at TSE from purchasing the company’s stocks. Iran Privatization Organization has put up a minority stake of the company up for sale five times since 2016, all shrugged off by traders.
> MSC Pinned to Local Market
Mobarakeh Steel Company, Iran's biggest steelmaker, was the third largest exporter, as it exported a total of 173,087 tons of hot- and cold-rolled, acid-washed, tin-plated, coated, checkered and galvanized flat steel in Q1, down 69% YOY.
Other than coated coil shipments, the export of all other MSC-made commodities saw a decline in double digits.
MSC exported 33,379 tons during the third month, down 86% YOY.
The Isfahan-based producer’s downturn in exports seems to have exacerbated, as it has shipped even less in the third month compared to the second month. This is one of the weakest monthly performances MSC has staged in years when it comes to exports.
Reduced exports for MSC simply mean a rise in domestic sales, however, as the statistics released by the company at Tehran Stock Exchange indicate. The steelmaker's Q1 production was on the rise and sales were keeping up.
MSC’s commitment to the local market is increasing even further following continued criticism by domestic downstream producers who have called for boosting supplies of flat steel and semis by the giant steelmaker.
MSC's 5-million-ton per year iron ore pelletizing plant in Sangan mineral zone in northeastern Iran became operational in June. MSC has invested about 11.5 trillion rials ($306 million) in the project.
“If the local market demand stays at this level, exports will not increase. If they cannot absorb our supplies, however, we will definitely expand overseas shipments,” MSC chief, Bahram Sobhani, was quoted as saying by Chilan.
Together with its subsidiaries, MSC is the largest flat steel producer in MENA, accounting for 1% of Iran’s GDP.
> Other Producers
Hormozgan Steel Company, a subsidiary of MSC, was the next largest exporter, as it shipped 169,040 tons of slabs in Q1, registering a 34% decline YOY. The steelmaker's output for the third month was down 61% to 20,000 tons.
Khorasan Steel Company came next as its rebar exports rose 96% to 34,591 tons. The company’s exports in the third month of the year stood at 15,370 tons, posting a 1,133% upsurge YOY.
Iran Alloy Steel Company was next with 31,910 tons of rebar up 37% YOY in Q1, though its exports during the third month were down 61% to 20,000 tons.
Khouzestan Oxin Steel Company was next with 3,155 tons of sheet down 16%. It exported 1,108 tons in the third month, up 44% YOY.
Bolstering exports is an integral part of Iran’s ambitious steel industry expansion plan. As part of the so-called 20-Year Vision Plan (2005-25), the industry is targeting to become the world’s sixth largest steelmaker by reaching an output capacity of 55 million tons per year by the deadline (2025).
According to experts, Iran has to export at least 15 million tons by then to keep such a massive production volume economically viable.
Exports are expected to reach 8 million tons in the current fiscal year that ends on March 20, 2018.
Iranian steelmakers exported over 3.74 million tons of semis and 1.79 million tons of steel products in the last fiscal year, registering a 108% and 16% growth respectively compared to the preceding year, according to Iranian Steel Producers Association.