MRC Global InSight

Valves, Automation, Measurement & Instrumentation

Global demand for valves and associated products has been relatively strong through 2018. The U.S. is particularly buoyant with demand driven by all market sectors, while Europe and Asia have showed more modest recovery from the downturn of 2014 – 2016.

In the U.S., the finalization of Section 301 will have a significant effect on costs. Over time, the commodity market has become dominated by Chinese manufacturers. The application of an initial 10% tariff, rising to 25% in January, on all valves and component parts imported to the U.S. from China will have a direct and immediate inflationary impact. There are also other inflationary factors in China that are referred to in our special focus section.

The demand from all sectors is strong in the U.S. We expect to see a steady demand from the upstream during the balance of 2018 and the first half of 2019. Demand for valves, automation, measurement and instrumentation (VAMI) products is especially strong in the shale plays and particularly in the Permian Basin, where rig counts remain steady and the number of drilled uncompleted wells (DUCs) continue to grow. In the midstream sector, multiple major projects are underway to bring liquids from the Permian Basin to the U.S. Gulf Coast. We expect this liquid pipeline activity to remain very strong through 2019.

In the downstream sector, refining turnaround activity is expected to remain robust well into 2019. Downstream petrochemical and chemical companies are preparing for the second wave of a construction boom. Five ethylene crackers have come on-line between 2017 and 2018 with more than six million tons/year output, and five more crackers are under construction to begin operations in the next few years. This new capacity is expected to hit 12 million tons/year by 2021. The output from these crackers has also generated several new intermediates, monomer and plastic production units. The demand for valves and automation for both MRO and projects is strong, and we expect this trend to remain over the next few years. Additionally, due to increasingly strict pollution control enforcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more customers are operating under EPA consent decrees. This will require enhanced leak detection and repair monitoring as well as a significant amount of documentation on valves being repaired or replaced. We anticipate more valves will be replaced rather than repaired for companies working under their consent decree.

Internationally, the upstream sector has finally shown some recovery in the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) and the North Sea. The downstream sector is also active with significant brownfield expansions in both Asia and Europe. The midstream sector, specific to transmission lines and pipeline valves, is slow in Europe but continues to be built out in Asia.

There is strong demand for valves and automation products in the North American midstream, pipeline and gas utility sectors, and we anticipate this growth to continue through the balance of 2018 and into the first half of 2019. Ongoing and newly approved pipeline activity, both for new projects and mandated integrity work, continues to provide steady demand for valves and actuators for these applications. We expect demand will continue to rise over the next 12 to 24 months. Because of the build out of pipeline projects in North America, we have increased our inventory position on pipeline ball valves up to 42”, slab and expanding gate valves to 24”, as well as double block and bleed plug valves used in most terminals. Many of these valves can be equipped with actuators and controls in one of MRC Global’s valve and engineering centers. To further support customer demand and shorten lead times, we are pleased to announce the addition of high pressure actuators into our inventory for expedited deliveries on pipeline ball valves.

As the largest PVF stockest and distributor in the world, it is essential that we provide a fast and simple tool for our customers to find the VAMI product that suit their needs.

The MRC Global VAMI subject matter experts are actively working to support our customers in all three streams. They are focused on valves and actuation, measurement and instrumentation products used in liquid pipelines, gas pipelines, gas processing, ESD and critical valve continuous monitoring, as well as coker valves, HF acid valves, Unipol process valves, etc.