It’s no secret that the depressed oil price is affecting the global stainless steels market. For some time the tubes pipes and fittings sector had fared better than most, but that reprieve seems to be over. The rising number of trade disputes affecting tubes and pipes suggests that global competition is intensifying.
As outlined in a recent article in Stainless Steel World magazine, cancelled projects in the oil and gas market have hit all producers hard, however important markets particularly in Asia and Africa have bolstered demand for highly corrosion resistant grades. The sector has turned to alternative applications to maintain business, particularly auto, aerospace and wastewater treatment.
One preoccupation uniting all transport sectors is the need to achieve lower carbon emissions by improving fuel efficiency. This translates into lower weight and requires metals that are strong and light. In addition, today’s jet and engines require metals that can resist ever higher temperatures and pressures. Water, wastewater treatment and desalination plant and system operators are growing at about 8% per year, with especially strong growth in Asia. This should provide a steady market for stainless steel pipes.
Global competition in certain types of stainless steel tubes and pipes is hotting up, to judge by a recent spate of anti-dumping measures. Especially affected are seamless stainless tubes for high-temperature, high-pressure applications such as boiler reheaters in supercritical or ultra-supercritical power stations. Once the province of only two or three producers in Europe and Japan, the know-how to produce these items has spread throughout the world. in late 2013, China decided to restrict imports of such products from the EU, Japan and the United States. Meanwhile the EU, after deciding in August 2014 to end anti-dumping procedures against Chinese steel fittings, is reconsidering whether to impose tariffs on steel pipes and tubes from China. And Ukraine is investigating whether to impose tariffs on seamless stainless steel tubes from China, while the US is restricting imports of welded stainless pressure pipe from Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, and Brazil has imposed anti-dumping duty on seamless tubes from Ukraine. Read James Chater’s full article to find out more.