Reino Unido – Agência Reuters – 26/02/2010
CARACAS, Feb 25 (Reuters) – Venezuela said on Thursday it will import semi-finished steel products from Latin America’s top steel maker, Gerdau of Brazil (GGBR4.SA) (GGB.N), to feed the nationalized Sidor mill, struggling with power shortages.
The move is a sign of how hard Venezuelan industry has been hit by an electricity crisis caused by a drought and bad planning.
Mining Minister Rodolfo Sanz said Venezuela will import 30,000 tonnes of semi-finished steel products per month for the next three months to offset a 50 percent fall in output at Sidor, which is not currently exporting steel.
Venezuela still owes leading Latin American steelmaker Ternium SA (TX.N) part of the $1.97 billion compensation for the mill. Sanz said a delayed payment of $300 million will be made before the end of February and the total outstanding debt will be paid this year.
“We always pay our debts,” Sanz told reporters at a parliamentary event. Ternium says Venezuela missed two payments adding up to about $300 million this month.
Former union-leader Sanz said smelters at the Sidor plant, which sits on the banks of the Orinoco river in Venezuela’s rust belt, were off line.
“Facing the reality of paralyzed smelters we will inevitably have to bring in semi-finished products,” he said, ading the country will import billets to produce rods.
“Sidor produces 36,000 tonnes per month….You can calculate that in three months we could import 90,000 tonnes.”
In 2008 Sidor produced 3.58 million tonnes of liquid steel and expected a similar output in 2009. In 2007 production was 4.3 million tonnes.
Venezuela is suffering a major electricity crisis triggered by a long drought that has dried up its main hydroelectric plants. The drought has revealed problems in the government’s development of the electricity sector.
Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said on Thursday state-oil company PDVSA was importing power plants with a capacity of 800 MW to 900 MW amid the crisis.
(Reporting by Marianna Parraga and Joshua Schneyer; Editing by David Gregorio)