The Bronze Age began around 3000 BC when early man started to work heavily with metals, particularly bronze. Stone tools and weapons soon gave way to newer, stronger bronze variations. During this time period, bronze was the strongest metal in widespread use. The discovery of bronze allowed societies to created harder, more durable versions of tools and weapons previously made from stone or other less than ideal materials. Initially, bronze was made by alloying copper with arsenic, but over time arsenic would be replaced with an easier to work with and less toxic ingredient; tin.
This era is also characterized by early features of urban civilization such as a rise in nations and early writing systems. Many key technological advances occurred during this era, including the wheel and rope. At the time, bronze was mainly used to make bladed weapons, armor, building material and tools. Today, bronze is used to make anything from coins to turbines (insert joke about 3 place medals here) and even…. (You guessed it!) Flanges!!
Bronze flanges are utilized in many industries, such as aerospace, petrochemical, nuclear, medical, and other industrial applications. If you are looking for a bronze or even copper alloy flange, please reach out to our sales team and we would be more than happy to discuss price and lead time per your order requirements.
The birth and growth of the Bronze Age may have been steady and happened across ~1,000-1,500 years, but the end was abrupt and quite widespread. To this day, the exact cause of these Bronze Age kingdoms collapsing remains unclear. Archaeological evidence indicates that sociopolitical unrest and natural disasters (Such as severe droughts) are possible causes in the untimely end and loss of many of the advances made during this era. Historians also think a possible disruption in trade routes may have caused shortages of materials, leading to metal smiths of the time experimenting with iron as an alternative.
Interested in learning about a time that certainly rocked? Don't take our post about the Stone Age for granite! Check it out here!
Would you like to learn more? Keep an eye out for our next installation: The Iron Age!
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Throughout the evolution of the human condition, we have relied heavily on discovery and innovation to survive. Ancient societies used stone and eventually metals to create tools and weapons, and the ability to refine and utilize those metals was a major turning point in our technological abilities. These innovations led to advances for numerous applications and paved the way for our modern society.
Historians use the inherent link of industrial development and the materials to categorize certain periods of significant social and technological advancements. We are starting with the Stone age and will very quickly progress into the subsequent ages. Bear with us.
Before there was widespread use of metals, Ancient man used stone as a crafting medium and thus this large period of time is referred to as “The Stone Age”. The Stone Age lasted millions of years and is characterized by the evolution of the genus Homo (That’s us! Kind of…) and the use of primitive stone tools. Despite being called the Stone Age, not all tools were made from just stone. Different cultures experimented with different materials like wood, bone, or antlers. One of the first and simplest stone tools were hammerstones. Prehistoric humans used hammerstones to chip other stones into sharp-edged flake. Hammerstones were also used to break apart nuts, seeds and bones or to grind clay into pigments.Over time, early man created more sophisticated stone tools such as hand axes, spear points for hunting, scrapers to prepare animal hides and awls for shredding plant fibers to make clothing. These tools, while simple, served a very important function for our ancestors and paved the way for future innovations.
The most important “invention” of this era? Fire. Or rather, the controlled use of fire. With fire, prehistoric man was able to create heat and light, two things we associate with basic human needs today. This discovery allowed them to cook food, create a place of community to gather in the dark, and it permitted them to discover how to warp reality to suit their needs. Recent evidence, dating to around 164,000 years ago, found that early humans residing in South Africa used fire as an engineering tool. What do I mean? They would use fire to alter the mechanical properties of the stone used to make tools and utensils. Once heat treated, the stones were modified into crescent shaped blades, arrowheads, skinning tools, etc... This technique would be used to pioneer the early forms of metallurgy.
The first experiments with metalworking, along with the development of smelting and alloying, would become the official markers for the transition from the Stone Age to the next era of man: The Bronze Age. From there the improvements and innovations compound into the wonderful world we live in today. BUT we won’t get ahead of ourselves just yet. There are other metals, processes, alloys, and industrial innovations to discuss before we are can draw the line between sticks and rocks to modern refining processes and industrial flanges.
Is the Stone Age not far back enough in the history of metal? Check out our Star Flanges blog! That is literally as far back as it goes in the timeline and helps to explain where everything came from!
Have a suddenly insatiable thirst for knowledge and need to know what happens next in the thrilling saga of the industrial romance between mankind and metal? *ANNOUNCER VOICE* Check it out next time on: The Bronze Age.
Last Friday, July 12th, we all were very concerned for all our friends out in the Gulf and for all of those in the direct path of “Tropical-Briefly Hurricane-Storm Barry”. While we are still praying for those who received over 15 inches of water, all of those affected by the flooding near the Mississippi River, and all those still underneath Barry, I wanted to take a look at what Barry influenced along his journey and what it means for all of us in the industry. Preliminary figures indicate that Barry had the potential to cause $800-900 million dollars in damage, however be on the lookout for updated numbers as Barry continues to wane.
In preparation for Barry, offshore operators evacuated rigs, relocated them, or at the very least halted production due to safety concerns over the coming storm. By Wednesday July 10th, 600,000 barrels of production had been halted, and by Friday July 12th, over 1,000,000 barrels per day of Gulf production come to a standstill. While this is only ~1/12th of the United States production capacity, this slowdown contributed to the WTI price spike around July 10th and oil is still trading at the natural disaster premium with a slight retracement back below $60 as of the morning of July 16th. The officially posted figures indicate that ~%53 of oil production and ~%45 of natural gas production were cut in preparation of Barry.
The unfortunate truth is that we have refineries to worry about at home, not just the rigs in the Gulf. Initially, refineries in the storm path intended to stay online, but as Barry bore down numerous refineries decided to go offline to mitigate any potential dangers for the employees and the facilities. While I do not have any hard numbers, the true tell will come in a week or so with any fluctuations up in the price of gasoline at the pumps. Something else to keep an eye out for: if refinery output falls below crude production, we could tip the good ole scale of supply and demand against our favor and cause a drop in crude pricing.
Two major players in LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas), Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass terminal, and Sempra Energy’s new Cameron Facilities were both potentially in Barry’s crosshairs, and currently it appears as though no debilitating damage occurred. It is worth noting that Phillips 66’s refinery in Alliance, Louisiana was shut down Friday July 12th during the mandatory evacuation order in Plaquemines Parish. As of Monday July 15th, the Alliance refinery has started operations again and should be operating at full capacity again shortly.
While Barry has damaged homes and flooded some areas of Louisiana, we can all be thankful that it did not maintain “Hurricane” status upon landfall and that it did not dump quite as much rain as anticipated. Though some scary pictures oin NOLA circulated, we are happy to hear the pump system got them dry very quickly. Louisiana officials also state that NO LEVEES were breached by the storm surge. HALLELUJAH!
Please stay tuned for next month’s report, and if you missed last month’s report check it out HERE!
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I think it is important to explain the events leading up to the current Iranian tension, as well as what that tension could mean for the future. There is no great segue into this, so without further ado…
May 2018 – It is announced that the US will pull out of the 2015 Iran Nuclear deal and a “maximum
pressure” campaign is launched with intention on re-negotiating the nuclear deal.
August 2018 /November 2018 /April 2019 – New sanctions are implemented on Iran.
May 5th, 2019 - National Security Advisor John Bolton releases a statement regarding potential Iranian attacks.
May 8th, 2019 – Iran announces they will increase uranium production.
May 9th, 2019 – It is reported Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has a plan to send in 120,000 U.S.
Troops in the event of an Iranian attack.
May 10th, 2019 – U.S. Sends a warship and other military equipment to the Middle East.
May 12th, 2019 – Near the strait of Hormuz, four oil tankers are attacked (two Saudi, one Emirati, and
May 14th, 2019 – Multiple Saudi pumping stations are attacked by armed drones. Houthi rebels hiding in
Yemen claim responsibility.
May 15th, 2019 – Partial Evacuation of US embassy in Baghdad ordered.
June 13th, 2019 – Two more Tankers (one Japanese, one Norwegian) are assaulted Strait of Hormuz
while diplomatic discussions take place in Tehran.
June 17th, 2019 – Iran announced that it would surpass the uranium enrichment levels stipulated within
the 2015 nuclear deal in ten days.
June 20th, 2019 – Iran shoots down a United States drone it claimed was invading their airspace. The U.S.
provides evidence that the drone was in international waters.
June 24th, 2019 – President Trump Signs executive orders imposing financial sanctions on Iranian
June 25th, 2019 – Me writing this:
All jokes aside, what does all this mean for the United States and Oil in general?
As June 2019 concludes, the anticipated conflict between the U.S. and the Middle East has prompted international Brent Crude to climb ~5%, while concurrently West Texas Intermediate climbed more than 10%. (WTI’s biggest monthly gain since Dec 2016)
While WTI and Brent crude appear to be trading higher than Pre Iran-Conflict numbers, will this trend hold as we move into July?
Neither Country seems to be gunning for an all-out brawl, but further escalation may be inevitable.
While a factor, Iran is but a small part of a much larger equation that dictates oil pricing. Ultimately Supply/Demand will dictate the future price of oil and uncertainty is likely to lead to volatility.
Keep an eye out for the July Check in!
In 2017, a US investigation into Chinese trade policies was opened. This investigation resulted in tariffs being imposed on billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese products last year, an action that garnered a comparable retaliation from Beijing. After months of rising tensions, both countries agreed to halt new trade tariffs in December to allow for negotiations. Despite an initially positive outlook, the tension has risen even higher with the US having more than doubled tariffs on 200 billion dollars’ worth of Chinese products. Beijing responded in kind just three days later with tariff hikes on 60 billion dollars’ worth of US goods.
The tariffs imposed on Chinese goods should, in theory, make US-made products cheaper than imported ones, and encourage consumers to buy American.
What exactly are the tariffs in place?
Last year, the US imposed three rounds of tariffs on upwards of 250 billion dollars’ worth of Chinese goods. They cover a wide range of industrial and consumer items. Beijing retaliated with tariffs on 10 billion dollars of US goods and accused the US of starting "the largest trade war in economic history". China has targeted products including chemicals, coal and medical equipment with duties that range from 5% to 25%. They have also targeted products made in US districts with strong support for the Republicans, and goods that can be purchased elsewhere, such as soybeans.
Rare Earth Metals and Why They’re Important in the Trade War:
Rare earth metals are a group of 17 elements commonly used in production in many industries, including renewable energy technology, oil processing, and electronics. Despite the title of "rare", they are abundant in the Earth's crust, according to the US Geological Survey. However, due to difficult extraction and potential environmental consequences of processing these metals, there are relatively few places in the world that mine or produce them. One country makes up more than 70% of the world’s global output for rare earth metals: China.
This past week, the editor of Chinese state-run Global Times tweeted, "China is seriously considering restricting rare earth exports to the US.” This would not be the first instance of China restricting its rare earth metal exports. As recently as 2010, they did it against Japan, over a territorial dispute. The US is somewhat reliant on importing rare earth metals from China, as other countries simply do not produce or process the quantities needed by the US. About 80% of the US’ rare earth metal imports come from China. Domestic mining doesn’t appear to be a viable option either as the one rare earth mine operating in the United States sends its ore to China for processing - and is already facing a 25% import tariff. Creating Enough domestic mines and processing facilities will take many years and will not help in the short term. The restriction of exports to the United States, if enforced, could have a major impact on major US industries (worth trillions of dollars) that rely on rare earth metals.