VILNIUS - Lithuanian construction firms have hit another cement shortage this month, as the country's only cement producer, Akmenes Cementas (Akmene Cement), is unable to keep up with demand.
As the Verslo Zinios business daily reported, builders have been forced to turn to the Polish market since Belarus-made cement is also in short supply. And with deadlines to meet, they're not worried about price.
"The price has already become a secondary factor. The main challenge is to satisfy the demand," said Nerimantas Valenta, CEO of Gerdukas, the Lithuanian cement importer and wholesaler. "However, the shortage of cement is obvious all across Europe."
In June Arturas Zaremba, CEO of Akmene Cement, said that a shortage would be avoided this summer since the company was operating at full strength.
Edmundas Montvila, production director, confirmed that the company was working at full capacity and producing 120,000 tons of cement per month. He admitted, however, that this output was unable to satisfy the demand in full.
Generally a cement shortage was predicted, and the situation this summer was better than last year, said Vytautas Caplikas, vice-president of the Lithuanian Construction Industry Association.
"The shortage is less critical than last year. Some cement is delivered from Poland, although the prices there are higher," he noted.
The imports of Belarus-made cement have declined on the back of implementation of respective EU regulations and higher demand for cement in Belarus and Russia.
In July, the board of Akmene Cement decided to replace the cement production technology. The capacities of the new line valued at 280 million litas (81 million euros) will exceed the capacities of the current two lines. However, the new line could only be started up in approximately 4 or 5 years.
In Latvia, the situation is remarkably similar, with only one producer unable to keep up with soaring demand. In July Cemex, the country's sole cement plant, raised prices by 15 percent. Imported cement prices rose in August, thus raising total construction costs some 1.5 percent, according to reports.
Cemex announced in June that the company planned to build a 2.5 million-euro terminal for importing cement from other countries as a way to ensure necessary supply in Latvia. At the same time the company is building a new plant in Broceni in the western part of the country.