MRC Global October 2017 InSight

Gas Products

Polyethylene (PE) Pipe & Fittings

Current lead times for small diameter pipe and tubing are 8 to 12 weeks. Lead times for larger sizes of standard pipe items that are non-customer specific are running 12 to 18 weeks. We anticipate the lead times for all sizes to improve as we move into Q1 2018. Some producers are adding and converting capacity to address the needs of the gas utility markets. Producer Price Index (PPI) statistics (YTD April 2017) indicated a 26% year-over-year increase in pounds produced, with gas distribution demand representing more than half of this increase. Gas distribution pipe and fitting consumption should remain consistent and strong throughout the rest of the year.


Manufacturing capacity has increased slightly in response to the growth in system integrity projects and a return of new housing starts. Riser demand is expected to remain strong throughout 2017 with lead times ranging from 4 to 8 weeks.

Meters Sets

Demand for meter sets in 2017 continues to climb. A brief interruption in the supply of imported cast parts into the US caused some supply issues for fabricators and component manufacturers. The addition of fabrication capacity and new domestic casting supply is now in place and, as a result, lead times have begun to shorten to 4 to 8 weeks. MRC Global placed forward orders for meter sets for the balance of 2017, allowing fabricators to plan production schedules and to order long lead time component parts.

Meters & Regulators

Meter and regulator consumption and demand will remain strong from now into 2018. Growth in new US housing starts has returned for many utilities and escalated system replacement programs will keep pressure on demand. Lead times for forecasted meter and regulators average 4 to 8 weeks. MRC Global mitigates meter and regulator lead times using our forward ordering process based on end use customer forecasts. Lead times for unplanned usage can be as high as 12 to 16 weeks. Normal pricing increases are expected for the 2018 build year.

Tracer Wire

The cost of copper remains the driving factor of the ultimate price of tracer wire. There was a spike in copper pricing in Q4 2016, which carried into 2017 but subsided during the first quarter. Copper continued to rise slightly in Q2 and Q3 2017. The cost of copper continues to be driven by supply and demand in typical applications, such as construction and building services. Like other commodities, factors such as supply disruptions and over-eager commodity traders can also impact prices.