Flat Carbon Europe crude steel production amounted to 6.6 million tonnes for the three months ended December 31st 2011, a decrease of 10.4% as compared to 7.4 million tonnes for the three months ended September 30th 2011. Production decreased reflecting very weak market sentiment in Europe and the reduction of inventories accumulated in the third quarter.
Steel shipments for the three months ended December 31st 2011 were 6.2 million tonnes, a decrease of 3.1% as compared to 6.4 million tonnes for the three months ended September 30th 2011. Steel shipments decreased during the fourth quarter of 2011 due to weaker market conditions and strong destocking activity.
Sales in the Flat Carbon Europe segment were USD 7.0 billion for the three months ended December 31st 2011, a decrease of 9.0% as compared to USD 7.7 billion for the three months ended September 30th 2011. Sales decreased primarily due to lower steel shipment volumes and lower average steel selling prices (-6.6%) impacted by base prices and currency effects.
EBITDA for the three months ended December 31st 2011 was USD 26 million, as compared to USD 367 million for the three months ended September 30th 2011, primarily driven by lower steel shipment volumes and significant price cost squeeze.
Operating performance in the fourth quarter of 2011 was negatively impacted by impairment charges of USD 56 million relating to various idled facilities and restructuring costs totaling USD 143 million associated with the implementation of the Asset Optimization Plan primarily relating to Spanish entities. These charges were offset however, by several positive items: a DDH income USD 163 million recognized during the quarter and a net gain of USD 93 million recorded on the sale of carbon dioxide credits, the proceeds of which will be re-invested in energy saving projects.
Operating results in the third quarter of 2011 included a DDH income of USD 129 million and USD 85 million in impairment charges relating to costs associated with the announced intention to close the two blast furnaces, sinter plant, steel shop and continuous casters in Liege, Belgium.
For the comparable fourth quarter of 2010, operating results were positively impacted by DDH income of USD 88 million and a gain of USD 140 million recorded on the sale of carbon dioxide credits, which were partly offset by a USD 37 million impairment charge primarily relating to idled downstream assets.
In USD million unless otherwise shown