LOS ANGELES The
absence of large-scale desalination projects is contributing to
an anticipated decline in global industrial titanium demand in
2014, according to an industry executive.
Kevin Cain, president
of Moon Township, Pa.-based Uniti LLC, told the International
Titanium Association (ITA) conference in Las Vegas that
industrial titanium shipments will drop around 12.1 percent to
29,000 tonnes (about 63.93 million pounds) in 2014 from an
average of 33,000 tonnes (72.75 million pounds) per year from
2011 through 2013, despite improvements in some other
Unlike in the United
States, where commercial and military aerospace typically
accounts for 60 to 70 percent of shipments, non-aerospace
demandof which industrial is the largest segmentcan
represent up to half of the global market.
Cain noted that in the
past three years nearly 12,000 tonnes (26.46 million pounds) of
commercially pure (CP) titanium strip for welded tubing was
produced for two Saudi Arabian desalination projectsRaz
Az Zawr and phase 3 of the Yanbu power and desalination
Uniti, a joint venture
of Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Technologies Inc. (ATI) and
Russias VSMPO-Avisma Corp., shipped 5.5 million to 6
million pounds of strip for Raz Az Zawr in 2011. Industry
observers said at the time that the project was so large it had
an impact on the overall global availability of CP product.
While ATI has not
disclosed how much titanium strip it is supplying for Yanbu,
most was scheduled to be shipped this year. The strip is used
as skelp to fabricate welded tubing for the plants.
However, Cain told the
ITA conference that he is "not ready to forecast another Raz Az
Zawr or Yanbu in the next five years." Other sources at the
conference agreed that no desalination project with titanium
requirements on the scale of the Saudi plants has appeared on
predicted that total shipments to the industrial titanium
market will creep up gradually to 34,000 tonnes (74.96 million
pounds) by 2018, supported by chemical processing, energy and
some desalination infrastructure demand.
Global demand peaked
at about 43,000 tonnes (94.8 million pounds) in 2008 before
falling to approximately 27,000 tonnes (59.52 million pounds)
in 2009 amid the global recession, according to Uniti, but
rebounded to about 39,000 tonnes (86 million pounds) in 2011,
due in large part to desalination projects. Demand slipped to
about 30,000 tonnes (66.14 million pounds) in 2012 before
rising once again this year to an expected 32,000 to 33,000
tonnes, again bolstered by desalination.
in chemical processing will range from 9,500 to 12,000 tonnes
(20.94 million to 26.46 million pounds) annually during the
next five years, Cain forecast. Uniti expects the power
generation sector to consume 7,000 to 8,000 tonnes (15.43
million to 17.64 million pounds) per year over the same period
in products such as welded tube, tube sheet and heat transfer
equipment, while the oil and gas markets are forecast to
consume 3,500 to 5,000 tonnes (7.71 million to 11.01 million
pounds) annually over the next five years.
Cain noted that most
titanium in desalination projects is used for thermal
technology rather than reverse osmosis, but he said that
osmosis technology is gaining ground.