While the non-oil sector is having an increasing impact, the oil industry has maintained the greatest influence over the UAE’s economy. As a result, falling oil prices have slowed the country’s economic growth and have fuelled attempts to reduce the dependency on oil by increasing investment in non-oil sectors. Since some of these developing non-oil industries are consumers of stainless steel sheet, investment disruption has affected consumption of these products.
Saudi Arabia is the second-largest consumer of stainless steel flat products among Gulf Cooperation Council countries. The chemical industry, and especially the petrochemical sector, is a major consumer of stainless steel flats in Saudi Arabia. Oil prices and investments in the chemical industry are the main factors affecting demand for stainless steel rolled products. Therefore, Saudi Arabia’s evolving plans and the outlook for oil prices are building optimism in the country about future demand for stainless steel flats.
Requirements for stainless steel products are increasing owing to infrastructure developments in the Middle East, especially in the UAE. But with lower supply, local manufacturers are unable to fulfil these needs while imports have become more difficult owing to unstable logistics costs and shipment schedules.
Recently, the UAE has extended a ban on exports of steel scrap, including stainless steel, and is restricting the export of containers from its ports. As a leading source of steel scrap for India and Pakistan, this move is affecting material flows to satisfy these countries’ production needs.
Many infrastructure and industrial projects lined up for the Middle East in the coming months and years will require the use of stainless steel, thus boosting demand. Therefore, this is the time when the Middle East should focus even more on recycling stainless steel within the region to meet its requirements and to avoid importing from other parts of world.
Turning to current conditions, surging nickel costs are driving up prices of a wide range of alloys and products. As requests for lithium-ion batteries and other nickel items continue to climb, there is a question mark over the capacity of nickel providers to meet these requirements within the near future.
Both supply and demand factors are driving a nickel shortage which is expected to persist for the foreseeable future. The nickel shortage has made recycling an even more attractive means of assisting small producers and machine shops in mitigating rising prices.
Nickel is a basic component of the lithium-ion batteries utilized in electric vehicles (EVs). With manufacturers boosting production of EVs, demand for nickel is higher than ever. However, the worldwide nickel shortfall is hampering EV battery producers and all other industries that depend on the metal.