The economic climate is the main challenge facing European and Russian steelmakers, according to a pan-European survey commissioned by ExxonMobil.

According to the survey, one in five operators consider global competition to be the principal barrier they need to overcome, with over one in 10 showing real concern over rising energy costs.

Optimising performance and reducing costs are high on the agenda of most steelmakers with four in five claiming to take a proactive approach to machinery maintenance and a quarter of those surveyed (24%) experiencing at least 10% of their equipment being off-line due to costly, unscheduled downtime over a 12-month period.