Tariffs and the PVF Industry
Tariffs and the PVF Industry
US trade deficit and trade practices have been a focus of the Trump administration. Citing these concerns, the President has imposed tariffs under three US laws.
Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974—Allows the President to impose temporary duties and other trade measures if the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) determines a surge in imports is a substantial cause or threat of serious injury to a U.S. industry. Currently it is being applied on U.S. import of Washing machines and solar products.
Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962—Allows the President to take action to adjust import of products, that the Department of Commerce finds to be imported into the United States in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten to impair U.S. national security. Currently it is being applied on U.S. imports of steel and aluminum, and potentially autos and uranium products.
Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974—Allows the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to suspend trade agreement concessions or impose import restrictions if it determines a U.S. trading partner is violating trade agreement commitments or engaging in discriminatory or unreasonable practices that burden or restrict U.S. commerce. Currently it is being applied on U.S. imports from China
Since section 201 does not concern supply industry, we will only talk about 232 and 301.
Section 232 had the most impact on the PVF industry. It imposed 25% tariff on certain steel imports. Notable among them were tubes, pipes, ingots, billets and certain semi-finished products used in several PVF supplies.
Here is the timeline of events for section 232 implementation;
- 04/2017: Commerce initiates investigation on effects of steel and aluminum import
- 01/2018: Recommendation submitted to President
- 03/08/2018: President proclaim duties effective 03/08/2018
- 05/31/2018: President permanent exempts following countries from tariffs based on quota agreement;
- South Korea
- European Union
- 08/10/2018: President doubles the tariff to 50% on steel imports from Turkey effective Aug 31, 2018
- Current status: Tariffs are in effect from 03/08/2018.
Countries exempt from tariff can only export so much. The PVF industry saw that most import quotas from exempt countries were exhausted in few months. For this reason, there was little to no pipe in 2018 from countries like South Korea which is a big exporter of A106B seamless pipe.
Section 301 deals with imports from China. Products currently imported from China in the PVF industry are malleable fittings, valve components, brass fittings, ductile iron fittings, stainless steel fittings, stainless steel forgings and wide variety of commodity valves common in the oil patch.
Here is the timeline of the events;
- 08/14/2017: President directs USTR to investigate China’s trade practices
- 08/18/2018: USTR announces it will proceed with section 301 case against China
- 07/06/2018: Stage 1 ($34 Billion): 25% import tariff on 818 US imports from China
- 08/23/2018: Stage 2 ($16 Billion): 25% import tariff on 279 US imports from China
- 07/10/2018: Stage 3 ($200 Billion): 10% import tariff on 5745 US imports from China
- 08/01/2018: President proposed increasing stage 3 tariff to 25% if China retaliates.
- 09/07/2018: President threatens potential stage 4 tariff on $267 billion of US imports. As of this writing USTR has not made a formal announcement on these tariffs.
- Current status: 10% import tariff on stage 3 increasing to 25% on January 1, 2019
Section 301 will result in price increases on lot of commodity fittings, valves, nuts & bolts and semi-finished raw material used in PVF industry.
2018 has been a great year for PVF industry. The higher oil prices and recovery from a long down turn spurred many projects in a very short time. Manufacturers and distributors were very lean in 2017 due to lower demands and were not able to keep up with the demand. Inventory gaps were common and several competitively prices pipes and fittings were hard to source. Domestic manufacturers were having issues keeping up with the demand and a large stock order cycle varied from 3 weeks to 6 months depending on the product. There was also an anti-dumping law suit brought by Bonney Forge and Penn Machine on Bothwell Taiwan. As a result, import forged steel fittings such as threaded & socket-weld couplings, olets etc. were wiped out soon after the law suit. Later on, Taiwan refused to fill any order due to pending law suit. This bridged the gap between import and domestic forged steel fittings prices. Currently 90% of forged fittings in the market are domestic fittings. Trupply is a master distributor of Bonney Forge which positions us uniquely to source forged fittings that our competitors cannot get their hands on.
Most of us remember the anti-dumping suite in 2016 on flange manufacturer that resulted in price increase from 30% to 200% on carbon and stainless flanges. Currently the import flanges are no more than 10% cheaper than domestic flange. Trupply is a master distributor of Weldbend and stock commodity flanges in our Houston warehouse.
There was another significant event with Pantech Malaysia. Pantech is one of the largest Butt Weld fitting manufacture in the world. There fittings are on several AMLs, making them a popular choice in the “approved” fitting category. There are issues going on with the import of these fittings and as a result prices have fluctuated 10-15% in past several months. Currently the import butt weld fitting sells at almost half the price of domestic butt weld fitting. We anticipate that it is only a matter of time when an anti-dumping suite is brought against import of butt weld fitting resulting in price hike on butt weld fittings. However, it is just a speculation at this moment.
Section 301 price increase from January 1st will have trickle down effect on many imports and on domestic PVF products. Several raw materials are used in domestic products which will result in price hike. Couple this with increased demand, several manufacturers have already announced price increase from January 1st. Trupply expects that majority of PVF supplies will be priced higher from January 1st directly or indirectly due to 301 tariffs and due to price increase announcements from domestic manufacturers. We strongly encourage our customers to place orders for projects in hand. Trupply will hold current prices for all orders placed by Dec 25th.
- Asif Ehtesham
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What is a buttweld pipe fitting?
Buttweld Carbon Steel and Stainless Steel Pipe Fittings
Buttweld pipe fittings comprises of long radius elbow, concentric reducer, eccentric reducers and Tees etc. Butt weld stainless steel and carbon steel fittings are an important part of industrial piping system to change direction, branch off or to mechanically join equipment to the system. Buttweld fittings are sold in nominal pipe sizes with specified pipe schedule. BW fitting’s dimensions and tolerances are defined as per ASME standard B16.9.
Butt welded Pipe fittings such as carbon steel and stainless steel offer many advantages compared to threaded and socketweld fittings. The later are only available up to 4-inch nominal size whereas butt weld fittings are available in sizes from ½” to 72”. Some of the benefits of weld fittings are;
- Welded connection offers more robust connection
- Continuous metal structure adds to the strength of the piping system
- Butt-weld fittings with matching pipe schedules, offers seamless flow inside the pipe. A full penetration weld and properly fitted LR 90 Elbow, Reducer, Concentric reducer etc. offers gradual transition via welded pipe fitting.
All buttweld pipe fittings have beveled ends as per ASME B16.25 standard. This helps create full penetration weld without any extra preparation needed for the butt weld fitting.
Butt weld pipe fittings are most commonly available in carbon steel, stainless steel, nickel alloy, aluminum and high yield material. High yield butt weld carbon steel pipe fittings are available in A234-WPB, A234-WPC, A420-WPL6, Y-52, Y-60, Y-65, Y-70. All WPL6 pipe fittings are annealed and are NACE MR0157 and NACE MR0103 compatible.
Trupply is one of the largest distributors of pipe flanges and fittings. We handle hundreds of requests every day. Some of the common misconceptions people have are;
- They call BW fittings in A105 material: Most common carbon steel buttweld fitting material is A234WPB. It is equivalent to A105 flanges, however there is no such thing as A105 or A106 butt weld fitting
- They request “Normalized” butt weld fittings: This is also a misconception since flanges are available in A105 and A105 N, where N stands for normalized. However, there is no such thing as A234WPBN. Some manufactures normalize their butt weld fittings as a standard procedure and such request require checking individual MTRs to verify if normalized heat treating process was done. Customer needing “normalized” butt weld fittings should request WPL6 fittings which are high yield and are normalized as a standard procedure
- They forget to mention pipe schedule: Buttweld fittings are sold as per pipe size but pipe schedule must be specified to match the ID of the fitting to the ID of the pipe. If no schedule is mentioned, we will assume a standard wall is requested.
- Differentiate between SCH 40 and True Schedule 40: Pipe fittings 12 inch or larger require specifying if fitting is standard wall (most commonly referred to sch 40) or a true schedule 40 is required. This is needed since schedule 40 do NOT correspond to standard wall for pipe sizes 12” and bigger. A true sch 40 will be thicker than standard wall for pipe fittings 12” or bigger.
- Stainless Steel butt weld pipe fittings are available in schedule 10s: Customer should specify if they need standard wall (sch 40s) or a thinner wall sch 10s stainless steel butt weld fitting. See pipe chart to clarify how the wall thickness for stainless steel pipes correlated to different pipe schedules.
- They forget to mention welded or seamless butt weld fitting: Butt weld fittings are available in both welded and seamless configuration. A seamless butt weld carbon steel or stainless steel fitting is made of seamless pipe and is generally more expenses. Seamless pipe fitting is NOT common in sizes bigger than 12”. Welded pipe fittings are made of ERW welded carbon steel or stainless steel pipe. They are available in sizes ½” to 72” and are more affordable than seamless fittings.
What does Short Radius (SR) or Long Radius (LR) means?
You will often hear SR45 elbow or LR45 elbow. The 45 or 90 refers to the angle of the bend for butt weld fitting to change the direction of flow. A long radius elbow (LR 90 Elbow or LR 45 elbow) will have a pipe bend that will be 1.5 times the size of the pipe. So, a 6 inch LR 90 has bending radius that is 1.5 x nominal pipe size. A short radius elbow (SR45 or SR90) has pipe bend that is equal to the size of fitting so a 6” SR 45 has bending radius that is 6” nominal pipe size.
What is a 3R or 3D elbow pipe fitting?
First, the term 3R or 3D are used synonymously. A 3R butt weld elbow has bending radius that is 3 times the nominal pipe size. A 3R elbow is smoother than SR or LR fitting.
A concentric reducer buttweld fitting is symmetrical: both ends are aligned along the center.
An eccentric reducer butt weld fitting is not symmetrical: ends are off center of one another.
Trupply is an authorized distributor of Weldbend which is one of the largest manufacturer of domestic butt weld fittings and flanges. Trupply also offers approved and unapproved import pipe fittings for more cost-conscious customers. All butt weld fittings are provided material test reports (MTR).
- Asif Ehtesham
What is the difference between Class 150, 300 & 600 flange
We get this question a lot from customers who are new to piping industry. Steel pipe flanges are classified as per ASME B16.5 standard. The pressure rating of flange ranges from 150# to 2500#. The term "lb", "class" and "#" are used interchangeably to designate the pressure rating of the flange. The fact is that 150 lb has no relation to 150 psi and so does the 300 or 600 lb does not correlate to 300 or 600 psi pressure rating. Pressure rating of the flange depends on the material (A105, stainless, nickel alloy etc.), the heat treat condition and pressure "class". Here we will use the term "class" to NOT confuse it with pressure "rating". So what is class 150 flange or ASME B16.5 class 150 flange, as the question raised by many customers.
First lets clarify the pressure rating of steel pipe flange. The table below shows the pressure and temperature rating of A105 carbon steel flange.
As you can see the pressure decreases with increasing temperature and has no real correlation with pressure "class".
Trupply has made a video using slip on flange to clarify the difference between different pressure classes of a flange. The video uses 2 inch slip on flange as an example. The table below shows the difference between 2 inch flange of class 150, class 300 and class 600.
If you have any question about ANSI Flange, ASME Flange, Flange Standards or Pressure Classification, email us at email@example.com. We believe in educating our customers so they can make an informed buying decision. You can visit our steel pipe flange collection page for convenient online shopping.
- Asif Ehtesham