MRC Global InSight

Carbon Steel Fittings & Flanges

Demand for carbon steel fittings and flanges weakened in Q4 2018, and that weakness has continued through Q1 2019. Specifically, demand for high yield and midstream fitting and flange products has slowed dramatically as the midstream sector has remained flat to start the year. As a result, manufacturer lead times for those products has shortened significantly. Typical of a market with weakening demand, the entire supply chain is heavy with inventory. However, this current state of weak demand and large inventories should be short-lived. We expect the second half of 2019 to bring a lift in demand as construction of new gathering systems begins, as well as new infrastructure for takeaway capacity from the Permian Basin as described in the pipe section of this publication.

Demand for commodity A105 carbon steel flanges has softened as well, with prices stabilizing because forging and machine shops are not running at full capacity. It is worth noting that the Anti-Circumvention penalty that removed a major Malaysian weld fitting producer from the U.S. market in the second half of 2018 never made a significant impact to general availability, since demand for commodity Grade B weld fittings has weakened as well.

Pricing for forged steel fittings has also stabilized in the wake of anti-dumping penalties that removed some international suppliers from the U.S. supply chain, and demand has remained flat. Inventories for forged steel, pipe nipples, swages and bull plugs remain robust with short lead times.

After experiencing a period of high demand and growing lead times in the latter part of 2018, demand for stud bolts has also flattened and lead times have improved. Despite flat demand, stud bolts have experienced some upward pricing pressure as a result of the 10% tariff levied by Section 301. Unless a trade agreement is reached between the U.S. and China, the tariff will increase from 10% to 25%. The determination of this tariff increase has been delayed by three months.