Steel shipments from Iran unaffected by Gulf crisis, but demand low

Shipments of steel products from Iran remained unaffected by the conflict in the Gulf of Oman, which took place late last week, sources told Fastmarkets.

We can still ship material, the country’s major semi-finished steel producer told Fastmarkets.

On June 13, two oil tankers (Norwegia-owned Front Altair and the Japan-owned Kokuka Courageous), reported an attack in the Gulf of Oman. Front Altair was transporting oil from Saudi Arabia to Taiwan, while Kokuka Courageous was carrying methanol to Singapore.

The United States government accused Iran of blowing holes in the vessels with mines and sent warships to aid tanker crews, however Iran has denied the allegations.

“It is the assessment of the United States’ government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on June 13.

“This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication,” Pompeo said.

Iranain president Hassan Rouhani responded in a speech broadcast live on state TV saying, “Iran will not wage war against any nation.”

“Despite all of the Americans’ efforts in the region and their desire to cut off our ties with all of the world and their desire to keep Iran secluded, they have been unsuccessful,” Rouhani added.

As a result of the international furor, steel market participants have become more cautious this week.

Iranian billet was available to foreign customers at $390-395 per tonne fob in the week ended Wednesday June 19, unchanged week on week.

There were no bookings heard in the market over the pricing period, but some market participants believed that $380 per tonne fob could be achieved if a customer gave a firm bid.

Fastmarkets’ weekly assessment of the Iranian export billet price was $380-390 per tonne fob on June 19, down from $385-395 a week earlier.

One major Iranian slab producer offered July-rolling material at $385 per tonne fob, down by $5 per tonne against the latest June-rolling offers.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for Iranian export slab narrowed down by $5 per tonne week on week to $380-385 per tonne fob on June 19 from $380-390 per tonne on June 12.

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