According to a feature published by The Gas Review, prices are up across the board in Japan as well as material shortages.
Nippon steel & Sumikin Stainless (NSSC), the largest stainless steel producer in Japan, posted higher contract prices for March through to May 2017. The price of stainless steel and chromium stainless steel increased by ¥30,000 ($274,391) per tonne
Similarly faced with increased material costs, the major valve manufacturer KIYTZ, implemented price increases for its valves from 1st May, including a 10% increases in stainless steel valves.
Welding gas and materials
Price increases are also rampant in the welding gas and materials industry. Nippon steel & Sumikin Welding, a subsidiary company of NSSMC, added ¥10,000 ($92,0000) per tonne to the price of its welding wire.
In gases, Nippon Ekitan Corporation increased the price of its liquefied carbon dioxide and dry ice by 20%. similarly, Showa Denko Gas Products raised prices for the same products by 15% from April 1st. The companies say that the increases are necessitated by increases in raw gas and distribution costs.
In the Japanese chemical sector, Kuraray Co. implemented price increases from 1st May. Shipment methyl methacrylate (MMA monomer) and methacrylic acid (MAA) cost ¥16 ($0.15) per kilogram. For ploymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), moulding materials for shipments in Japan the price rose from ¥35 ($0.32) to ¥45 ($0.42) per kilogram. For overseas shipment, prices were between $300 and $400 per tonne.
In addition, international market prices for anhydrous hydrofluoric acid is at inflated levels for the first time in two years at $1,700 to $1,800 per tonne. As a result, manufacturers of fluorine-containing gases, notably refrigerants, have increased prices.
In addition to rapidly increasing prices, manufacturers are faced with material shortages. Supply is particularly tight for SUS 316L stainless steel. This type of stainless steel is essential for semiconductor production equipment and gas supply piping. Semiconductor production equipment is continuing to see record results in Japan due to high demand, gas supply systems are fundamental to this equipment. Mass flow controllers, regulators, gas filters, valves, fittings, and other components are built into integrated systems to perform precise control of gases for Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) and etching. SUS 316L stainless steel is also used as the standard material for all gas piping.
In Japan, there is currently a shortage of acetylene gas containers. Japanese law states that acetylene containers must be discarded after 38 years of usage and replaced with asbestos-free containers. The demand for acetylene has been dropping for some time, however it is expected to increase again as preparations begin for the Tokyo Olympics. Despite this increased demand, the risks involved with boosting production capacity means it is unlikely there will be relief for tight supply.
The Gas Review, issue no. 438