MRC Global October 2017 InSight

Oilfield Products

As the upstream market regains traction, the demand for oilfield products continues to climb. Lead times are extending for polyethylene pipe, control equipment, pumps and certain polypropylene (PPE) materials in the range of 8 to 12 weeks. Pricing for certain products has increased by 3% to 8% in the past 6 months.

North American demand for oilfield high density pipe (HDPE) remains flat due to a more stable rig count. Resin exports account for 20% to 25% of sales; market watchers expect this number will reach 30% or greater in 2018 in anticipation of increased production coming on line. This year, Braskem Idesa, Ineos Sasol and Nova Chemicals added more than four billion pounds of new polyethylene (PE) capacity in North America. An additional eight billion pounds of PE capacity will come on line in 2018 through 2020 with expansions from Dow, ExxonMobil, Formosa, Sasol, LyondellBasell and Shell. Absent a significant increase in resin exports, there is not enough domestic demand to sustain PE resin production at the current level of 87% of plant capacity.

North American PE resin pricing will continue to be an oil driven market. Historical HDPE oilfield demand and price both reach their peaks in the third quarter of each year. In early 2017, delivered HDPE pipe cost approximately $.75 to $.80 per pound with relatively short lead times of 2 to 4 weeks. Demand in the oilfield and gas distribution markets has forced lead times and pricing to increase significantly. Current pricing is around $1.10 to $1.15 per pound for delivered HDPE pipe with lead times of 8 to 12 weeks.

Our HDPE pipe manufacturers announced a $.03 per pound increase for August 2017, a $.04 per pound increase in September and we expect another $.03 per pound increase in October 2017. After this round of increases, historical data would project a deflationary period in HDPE pricing and lead time improvement to continue through the balance of the year.