Global market outlook according to the ITA (International Tube Association)
Düsseldorf, April 2014: An industry that will continue to grow, though at a less extreme pace than in the recent past. This is the outlook for the global tube industry, according to what Dr. Gunther Voswinckel, President of the International Tube Association said to Siderweb.

Siderweb: In 2012, global tube production amounted to approximately 150 million tons, growing more than 100 % against 2003. What are the expectations for the near future, in terms of market development?
Dr. Gunther Voswinckel: «Over the last few years there has been a strong development of the global tube sector, led by the performance of the energy industry, in particular of the segment linked to shale gas. In the next years I believe that this drive will slow down and the tube industry will continue to grow, but at rates in line with the average of the iron and steel industry».

In many sectors, tubes are replacing other steel products. What do you expect for the next few years?
Dr. Gunther Voswinckel: «In the building industry, T or I profiles have been replaced with tubes. I believe this is a reasonable solution since it makes buildings lighter and benefits from the mechanical properties of tubes. I expect this trend to continue in the next few years».

What products will grow more? Welded, seamless or stainless steel tubes?
Dr. Gunther Voswinckel: «The stainless steel tube segment is a niche where I believe that in the next few years the trend will be to use stainless steel combined with other materials, maybe less expensive, to optimize costs. Among carbon tubes, the best prospects are for seamless tubes, especially those for the energy industry, while welded tubes will still grow, but at lower rates. An element that might affect all this, however, is the price of steel strip: if it stays low, welded tubes will be more competitive than seamless tubes, otherwise there will be more room for seamless steel tubes».

What sectors will consume more tubes in the near future?
Dr. Gunther Voswinckel: «As I said before, there are good prospects in the building industry, as well as for large ducts and for the gas industry. In the mechanical industry the trend will be moderately positive, while in automotive industry, higher demand will be counterbalanced by weight reduction for tubes used in cars and as a result I do not expect any increase in tonnage. In any case, today in a car there are on average 10 kg of tubes, and this is therefore a relatively small sector for us».

Are there alternative materials to steel that represent a threat in the tube sector?
Dr. Voswinckel: «Not for the moment, as far as I can see. Plastic tubes can only compete for sectors such as water transportation, while with respect to other materials, there are really few signs of conflict. Steel tubes are a relatively safe product, in this respect: I am optimistic about the industry’s evolution in the next few years».

Thank you for the interview

Stefano Ferrari
Siderweb SpA,
via Don Milani 5,
25020 Flero, Brescia