Is a price increase on the horizon in the US domestic line pipe market?
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Over the past few weeks, US domestic pipe mills have increased prices on oil country tubular goods (OCTG) casing on the heels of two consecutive price increases from US domestic flat-rolled steel mills. However, such an increase has yet to be announced for API X-42 electric resistance welded (ERW) line pipe; demand remains mostly firm, but it is still under pressure from major drops in the US rig count over the last few weeks and drastically lower import prices. For extremely large projects, sources tell SteelOrbis that US mills have dropped their prices to be more competitive with prices offshore. Even so, industry insiders tell SteelOrbis that pipe mills have been discussing a price increase in the near future that would raise spot prices, currently in the range of $62.00-$63.00 cwt. ($1,367-$1,389/mt or $1,240-$1,260/nt) ex-Midwest mill, to reflect increasing raw material costs.
How much of an increase domestic mills will be able to collect will be primarily based on whether or not demand picks up--as many anticipate--in 2012, but also on the import pricing trend. Korean and Taiwanese API X-42 ERW line pipe prices to the US are $47.00-$48.00 cwt. ($1,036-$1,058/mt or $940-$960/nt) DDP loaded truck in US Gulf ports, unchanged from last week--Indian offers are within a similar range as well-- still substantially lower than US domestic prices. Buying activity is moderate for Korean line pipe, but with Indian prices so close to Korean, most are turning to Korea to service any import line pipe needs.