MRC Global InSight

Gas Products

Polyethylene (PE) Pipe & Fittings

Demand for PE pipe and fittings has shown continued strength since the end of 2021. Resin manufacturers have caught up, alleviating raw material shortage issues. However, new PE pipe capacity is slow to come online and has yet to catch up with the ever-increasing demand. New entrants to gas pipe manufacturing have helped to increase overall capacity, but unprecedented demand has kept pipe mills from working down the backlog, and lead times remain long. Tightness in the labor markets and access to delivery trucks continue to keep mills producing below peak efficiency. Demand from gas utilities is anticipated to strengthen into 2023, which will counter any efforts from pipe mills to stabilize price and lead time.

Risers

Riser lead times have extended considerably since 2021, primarily due to lack of access to component parts used in riser manufacturing. Many riser designs call for a pre-installed meter valve on the outlet. Valve castings are primarily sourced from international manufacturers, which have led to considerable delays in receiving critical material due to geopolitical factors. Long lead times for PE pipe, used in the production of risers, have plagued fabricators as they pivot and work to secure pipe.

Meters Sets

Similar to risers, demand for meter sets has increased significantly through the first half of 2022. Access to component material continues to hinder the ability of fabricators to operate at peak capacity. Regulator availability is critical to the timely completion of meter set assemblies, and with the current lag in the accessibility of regulators, meter set lead times remain strained.

Meters

In addition to delays caused by the rippling effect of COVID-19, continued integrity work in the form of meter replacement projects is driving meter demand. The exit of one of the three major meter manufacturers from the residential diaphragm meter sector has been fully realized, positioning the demand onto the remaining two and pushing lead times to new highs. A move to smart meters and ultrasonic metering technology will become critical for utilities to maintain supply of this commodity, although the global microchip shortage continues to hinder automated meter reading (AMR) device production.

In early 2022, the market experienced a significant increase in meter pricing. As a result, we anticipate manufacturers will hold prices flat through 2022. Continued volatility in the broader economy could drive manufacturers to announce further increases at some point in 2023.

Regulators

Component availability from China and other overseas markets continues to plague regulator manufacturers. Extremely long lead times and inconsistent deliveries are making it difficult for end users to plan effectively and complete routine work. Access to containers shipping from China and a backlog at major Chinese shipping ports have added to the delays.

Tracer Wire

Copper price continues to trade at levels well above $4.00/lb, creating upward pressure on the price of tracer wire. Capacity remains stable and supply is consistent, but prices are anticipated to show strength with broader economic development.