High energy prices are forcing companies to shut down production in Belgium

Several companies have recently decided to temporarily halt production in Belgium or relocate production abroad due to high energy costs, De Standaard reports on Friday. Especially energy-intensive companies competing in the global market are facing difficulties, according to the newspaper.

Stainless steel producer Aperam has not yet restarted production in Belgium following the summer holidays, leaving several hundred of the 1,250 employees at its site in Genk temporarily unemployed. The Aperam site near Charleroi is also partially closed, according to De Standaard.

"We are now operating at a loss because of high energy prices. To give you an idea: we used to spend several tens of millions of euros a year on gas and electricity, at current prices it's several tens of millions a month," Aperam Europe CEO Bernard Hallemans told De Standaard.

Aperam is not the only company making drastic decisions because of energy prices in Belgium. On Thursday, the Norwegian fertiliser producer Yara announced that it will shut down its plant in the Belgian town of Tertre as of September 15. On the same day, Beaulieu International Group announced it was moving a Belgian yarn division to a site in northern France because energy tariffs are lower there.

"The high energy costs will trickle down throughout the industry, with all the associated consequences for the economy and employment," Peter Claes, director of the umbrella organisation of energy-intensive companies Febeliec, tells De Standaard. "For some companies, it is now even more profitable to sell the gas they have in storage than to use it for production," Claes continues.



Aperam headquarters in Genk, Belgium © BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND

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