US steel product consumption went down by 2% to 97.0 million tonnes in 2019, compared with 98.4 million tonnes the previous year. Consumption of flat and tubular products edged down by 5% and 7%, respectively, while demand for long products climbed by 8%.
In 2019, the North American rail market remained solid at the level of 1.1 million tonnes as the investment programmes of Class I railways held stable. Demand for oil country tubular goods (OCTG) in Canada dropped by 27% to 0.5 million tonnes, compared with 0.7 million tonnes in 2018, amid slower drilling activity. At the same time, large-diameter pipe (LDP) consumption in North America surged by 47% to 1.4 million tonnes in 2019 versus 0.9 million tonnes in 2018, mainly due to the record high pipeline demand in US, which corresponds to high oil and natural gas production.
Imports of finished steel products fell by 16% year-on-year to 18.8 million tonnes in 2019 due to the ongoing impact of the Section 232 tariffs introduced by the US in 2018.
Weaker demand and high inventory levels pushed prices down in 2019. During the period, prices dropped by 13% to US$876 per tonne for plate, by 4% to US$733 per tonne for rebar and by 5% to US$1377 per tonne for OCTG.