A pipe without any weld-joint or seam is called a seamless pipe. Seamless pipes finds application where strength, resistance to corrosion, and product life is crucial. A joint in any object is a plane of weakness, which may cause failure of the purpose of that object. In a pipe, weld-joint or seam may cause failure of the pipe (i.e. rupture, burst, collapse etc.) if it is subjected to extreme conditions of temperature, pressure, and chemical reactions. A seamless pipe can withstand high pressure, high temperature, higher mechanical stress, and corrosive atmosphere.
The manufacturing process of seamless pipes involves transformation of raw materials into steel bars, followed by transformation of these steel bars into a mother pipe, manufactured in different types of rolling mills. A seamless steel pipe is made from a solid round steel ‘billet’, which is heated and pushed or pulled over a form until the steel is shaped into a hollow tube. Ultra-high strength and corrosion-resistant properties make the seamless pipe perfect for the oil & gas industry, steam boilers, chemical and other processing industries, pipelines, installation with high and supercritical steam and pressure conditions, etc. In terms of type of manufacturing, the seamless pipe market can be segmented into hot finished seamless pipe, cross-roll piercing & pilger rolling, and nickel & alloys.
A key driver for the seamless pipe market is increase in global demand for fossil fuels. Demand for fossil fuel is higher, which has led to the rise in exploration & production activities in the oil & gas industry. However, the era of easy oil has ended, and oil reserves are being found at greater depths than their historical counterparts. The deeper depths contain hostile environment of high temperature and pressure for the pipes employed during drilling activity. Moreover, innovative technology of directional drilling requires high strength, flexible pipes. All these purposes are served by seamless pipes. Growth of industries such as pharmaceuticals, Chemicals & fertilizers where the usage of chemical processes, boilers is frequent accounts for another driver for seamless pipe market. The high resistance to corrosive substance being transported through seamless pipe, not only increases the cost-effectiveness but also prevents any leakage due to pipe failure, which may cause undesirable incidences. The current conditions of low crude prices has destabilized the oil & gas industry, posing a major restraint to the seamless pipe market.
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The seamless pipe market is estimated to expand, especially in Asia Pacific, due to rapid industrialization and rapid infrastructural development in the region. The industrialization and enhanced infrastructural development involves increased transportation of goods and people, which consumes a lot of energy especially fossil fuels. Middle East & Africa and Latin America are estimated to become lucrative regions due to their noteworthy oil industries. Currently, North America is emerging as a major exporter of fossil fuel through its ‘shale oil’ reserves. Furthermore, North America has a mature chemical industry. Both these factors indicate enhanced opportunity for the seamless pipe market in North America.