MRC Global InSight

Carbon Steel Pipe, Fittings & Flanges

The carbon steel pipe, fittings and flanges segment can best be described as steady after coming through a period of volatility and uncertainty caused by tariffs, anti-dumping and countervailing suites.

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.

Fittings & Flanges

In general, demand for carbon steel fittings and flanges is soft, which is in line with the lower-than-expected activity levels across the US. The weak demand, combined with availability of inventory at both distributors and manufacturers, has shortened lead times and manufacturers are reporting low activity levels.

The second half of the year was commonly expected to include higher activity and spending levels based on end-user CAPEX budgets; however, that expectation has not been realized. The general sentiment was that, based on an increasing oil price, the second half of 2019 would result in CAPEX budgets increasing. However, that has not happened, and spending has remained flat. This trend is expected to continue through the rest of the year and into 2020.

The Permian Basin has been one of the few regions that has maintained notable activity levels as construction on new infrastructure for takeaway capacity continues.

Line Pipe

Price erosion in both raw material and pipe took place during Q2 of this year, but then stabilized before seeing a slight increase at the beginning of Q3. While we do not expect further decreases through the beginning of 2020, current low demand of 2-inch to 16-inch pipe has many mills anxious for business. If demand remains at low levels, some capacity may be taken off-line in 2020.

The exception to this low demand trend is large diameter pipe. For sizes greater than 20-inch ERW, spiral (SAWH) and straight seam (SAWL): activity in the midstream sector, typically for transmission lines, has pushed the major domestic mills lead times on these sizes out as far as Q2 2020. Availability of these products from US domestic suppliers continue to be tight through 2020.