Following the lowest annual crude steel production figure since the 1930s in 2011, the total in 2012 was fractionally higher. When it is considered that the Slab plant on Teesside was brought back online in April, however, to produce steel for the export market, this total does not seem so good. Without the contribution from the Teesside plant, crude steel production in 2012 would have clearly hit a new record low.
Although 24% above the very suppressed demand in 2009, UK steel demand fell by 5% in 2012. Within this demand, the import penetration rose to 56%, the highest in recent memory.
Despite UK import and export levels being relatively high in relation to domestic production and demand levels the UK was a net exporter of steel over 2007-2009. With the export orientated Teesside plant mothballed for the majority of 2010 the UK became a small net importer of steel in 2010 with the trend continuing through 2011. The re-start of the plant in Teesside during 2012 has helped close the gap but the UK remained a net importer during the year.
Below we show the geographical split of UK steel exports and imports over 2011 and 2012.
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