MRC Global Volume 9 Issue 1 May 2018 InSight
MRC Global InSight

Gas Products

Polyethylene (PE) Pipe & Fittings

Current lead times for small diameter pipe and tubing are now extended 14 to 20+ weeks. Lead times for larger sizes of standard pipe items that are non-customer specific are running at 6 to 10 weeks. We anticipate the lead times for all tubing sizes to remain volatile throughout 2018 with larger diameter pipe continuing to improve slightly. Some producers are continuing to add and convert capacity to address the needs of the gas utility markets. Producer Price Index (PPI) statistics as of January 2018 indicated a 21% year-over-year increase in PE produced, with gas distribution demand representing more than half of this increase. Gas distribution pipe and fitting consumption should remain strong throughout the rest of this year. The increased demand is creating an inflationary market.


Riser demand continues to increase due to active main and service replacement programs, but increased manufacturing capacity has kept pace with demand. There is some concern that the extended PE pipe lead times could impact product delivery. Pricing is expected to rise based on significant increases on PE pipe, as well as projected increases in steel pipe related to the recent US Section 232 trade sanctions. We are expecting increases in the range of 6% to 10%, depending on design and size. Riser demand is expected to remain strong throughout the year with lead times ranging from 4 to 8 weeks.

Meters Sets

Demand for meter sets in 2018 remains robust. Manufacturers have added fabrication capacity and, as a result, lead times have begun to return to 4 to 8 weeks. The effects of the US Section 232 trade sanctions, coupled with price increases on regulators, gas valves and unions, will affect pricing moving forward in 2018. We expect increases in the 5% to 10% range. MRC Global has placed forward orders for meter sets for the balance of 2018, allowing fabricators to plan production schedules and to order long lead time component parts.

Meters & Regulators

Meter and regulator demand is expected to remain strong through 2018 and lead times are up slightly over the second half of 2017. Replacement projects across the US are creating strong demand. Pricing is likely to increase in the next bid cycle due to increasing raw material costs and tariffs in the market place.

Tracer Wire

The primary raw material used in tracer wire is copper and this dictates the cost to a large degree. Copper price is driven by economic conditions, strength or weakness of the dollar versus other currencies, and trading and speculative buying. Through Q1 2018, we have seen a stabilization of copper prices around the $3.10 to $3.25/lb. range. We expect this stability to remain through Q2 2018, but the second half of the year is still uncertain.