MRC Global InSight

A Committed Distributor
in a Demanding Economic Environment

Welcome to the October 2019 edition of InSight.

We reported in our last edition that despite a general reduction in CAPEX budgets coming into this year, expectations were that the oil price would improve, and CAPEX budgets would be increased in Q1/Q2 resulting in a soft first half followed by a much stronger second half of 2019. This uplift has not occurred, and conditions continue to be soft.

The rig count has been declining all year. Completions activity is also down, which is expected to continue through the end of 2019. Production levels in the US have not fallen, and the price of oil is under pressure. There is also an oversupply of gas that is keeping the price of gas at very low levels.

Large public customers have declared plans to focus on generating cash from operations and returning value to shareholders, hence CAPEX budgets are closely scrutinized, and projects can be deferred. This flattening of demand has rebalanced the supply and demand for many pipe, valve and fitting products at both the distributor and manufacturer level in North America.

One area that continues to be the exception is the Permian Basin. This West Texas region is the busiest of the North American basins, and the program to build new pipelines to take away excess oil and gas is still buoyant in the area.

Outside of North America, recovery continues. The upstream offshore and onshore sectors continue to recover with notably increased activity in the North Sea, the Norwegian Continental Shelf and the Caspian. Downstream activity is also strong in certain areas with strong investment in the Middle East and refinery upgrades in both Europe and Southeast Asia. There has also been an improvement in Australian mining activity.

Global energy producers are under increasing pressure to operate in an environmentally responsible manner, with special attention being paid to fugitive emissions. Europe has led the way driving emissions down, and the US Environmental Protection Agency is now following suit by increasing the issuance of consent decrees. These directives initiate Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) inspections, forcing the end user to switch to low emission products that conform to the relevant API standards. This has increased demand for certain low emission valves, but the process can be daunting for a supplier or distributor who is unfamiliar with the product, industry standards or significant documentation requirements. However, the Trump administration is actively working to roll back emissions restrictions put in place by the Obama administration, which are the basis for these decrees. As long as the Obama-era restrictions remain in place, consent decrees will continue. MRC Global’s valve experts can help producers understand and meet the requirements of these decrees.

Tariffs, anti-dumping and countervailing duties imposed by the US government continue. President Trump announced another amendment to Section 301 will go into effect on October 15, 2019, which further affected valves imported from China.

Overall, our large, global customers are trying to achieve environmental goals, return shareholder value, pursue strategic exploration and create efficiencies through smart plant and digital technologies. Now, more than ever, engaging a global distributor who is committed to and understands these goals is vital to successfully meeting these demands in the midst of this economic environment through the remainder of 2019 and into 2020.

InSight Magazine: October 2015

Robert Stein

Senior Vice President
Business Development
InSight Magazine: October 2015

John Bowhay

Senior Vice President
Supply Chain Management,
Valve & Technical Product Sales