MRC Global Volume 9 Issue 1 May 2018 InSight

MRC Global InSight

Carbon Steel Fittings & Flanges

The US carbon fitting and flange markets have continued to experience elevated demand over the past several months, as the oil and gas market conditions have remained favorable to producers and processors. With the US rig count continuing its steady climb since the beginning of 2018, we expect the same upward trend in demand to continue. As a result, manufacturers continue to add shifts and capacity to try to keep lead times at reasonable levels. Activity levels in Canada have been somewhat soft due to the pricing differential in heavy oil. Due to limited pipeline capacity to take the oil to market, activity in Canada has remained sluggish, but activity is expected to increase in the latter part of 2018 into early 2019. Our international business units are experiencing slightly increased demand for MRO and project activity, and we expect that trend to continue throughout the year. Despite the headwinds we face in Canada, globally our overall outlook on demand is positive, and our anticipation is that we will experience continued strong demand for the balance of 2018.

The US midstream sector continues to show robust activity levels, with high yield weld fitting and flanges showing significant growth in demand. Lead times for those products remain extended from both US and international producers. Our MRC Global supply chain team continues its strong commitment to growing inventory in these products by placing substantial orders. As such, we expect to remain well-positioned to provide support for our customers in the midstream market throughout the balance of 2018 and well into 2019.

Pricing for all carbon steel fitting and flange products has begun to climb in response to several factors. High demand for carbon steel tubular products and steel billet has led to increases in raw material for producers of weld fittings, as well as forged steel fittings and flanges. US manufacturers are also experiencing increases on raw materials as a result of the tariffs imposed by the recent Section 232 action. Shifts in currency pricing have also had a significant impact on purchasing power and have led to substantial increases of both raw material and finished goods from international sources. An anti-dumping suit filed against forged steel fittings from producers of both finished and rough forged goods from Italy, Taiwan and China has also had an impact on this market. On May 17, 2018, a preliminary decision resulted in the following assessments: Italy - 49.43%; Taiwan - 116.7%; and China - 21.21% (includes 13.79% countervailing duty plus 7.42% anti-dumping duty). The market is already starting to experience some of the ramifications of that suit. A key international producer has ceased offering their product into the US market and is expected to exit the US market completely. As a result, supply has begun to tighten, and we are seeing price increases from manufacturers around the globe. As always, MRC Global will remain vigilant in our efforts to mitigate any adverse effects to our customers.