LOS ANGELES Next year
could see industrial titanium demand rebound temporarily, but
it nevertheless remains flat through 2016, according to an
executive of a major tubing producer.
With the exception of a
desalination-related upturn next year, the industrial market
will likely remain flat and under its capacity to ship product
until 2017, Gilles Dussart, chief operating officer of the
Valtimet Inc. subsidiary of Boulogne-Billancourt, France-based
Vallourec Group, said in a subdued five-year forecast that some
industry executives called overly pessimistic.
"I believe that the coming years
are not going to be a good time (in terms of) capacity
adjustment," he told attendees of the International Titanium
Associations recent meeting in Atlanta.
Global demand for industrial
titanium will fall to about 22,000 tonnes this year (about 55
million pounds) from more than 30,000 tonnes in 2011, Dussart
said. That will be due in large part to a decline in the
While Dussart forecast that
demand will recover in 2013 to a total of nearly 30,000 tonnes,
driven mainly by an upturn in desalination, he sees the
industrial market as a whole stuck at approximately 25,000
tonnes from 2014 to 2016 and not reaching 30,000 tonnes again
Although he didnt
attribute his outlook to specific projects, his forecast
nevertheless underlines the crucial role that large
desalination facilities play in the industrial market as a
whole, observers later pointed out.
The Ras Az Zawr project in Saudi
Arabia was seen as a major component of global demand in 2011,
benefiting, among others, Pittsburgh-based Allegheny
Technologies Inc (ATI). ATIs Uniti LLC joint venture in
Moon Township, Pa., last year supplied 5.5 million to 6 million
pounds of commercially pure titanium strip for fabrication into
pipe for the plant.
But this year, there has been no
desalination plant comparable in size taking delivery of
titanium tubes. In 2013, however, another Saudi project, phase
three of the Yanbu Power and Desalination Plant, will likely
push up demand, according to observers.
Still, Dussarts view is
seen as too downbeat by some other industry sources, some of
whom maintain that its highly unusual for the market to
remain subdued for so long a stretch.
"History has shown that
weve never seen the market flat for so many years in a
row," one industry observer said of the forecast. "Sure,
desal(inization) has been a bubble, but there are other
Dussart also expects "no real
nuclear (power) renaissance" in the near term in the wake of
last years disaster in Fukushima, Japan.
The nuclear power market is
expected to require 40,000 tonnes of titanium tubing over the
next 20 years. He noted that a number of nations are "taking
time to review the safety of their designs," although he
stressed that nuclear power will continue to play a major role
in global titanium demand going forward.
In the process sector, Dussart,
whose company also produces stainless steel tubing, sees "great
potential for titanium," noting that liquid natural gas plants
can consume as much as 180 tonnes of tubing per project, while
plants that produce purified terephthalic acidconsidered
one of the building blocks of developing economiescan
require up to 150 tonnes.