Steelmakers file U.S. trade case seeking duties on oil pipes

 A group of oil-pipe makers led by United States Steel Corp. filed a U.S. trade complaint against competitors in nine nations, alleging goods from those countries were sold in the U.S. market below cost and, in some cases, benefited from government subsidies.

The U.S. coalition made the complaint with the International Trade Commission today in Washington. Countries named in the complaint are India, Korea, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam. U.S. Steel and Tenaris SA rose in New York.

 Producers including U.S. Steel won U.S. duties averaging 86 percent on Chinese pipes used in oil and gas wells, after complaining in a similar case brought in 2009 that they were being hurt by below-market prices for Chinese products. The latest case, if successful, would be a “landmark record win for the U.S. steel industry” because it would create a defense against imported oil-pipe products, said Michelle Applebaum, managing partner at consultant Steel Market Intelligence in Chicago.

The case “should be bullish for everybody who makes sheet steel,” Applebaum said by phone today. U.S. Steel, the second- largest U.S. steelmaker by sales, stands to gain the most and all suppliers of oil country tubular goods, or OCTG pipes, should benefit, she said.

The case would also help protect domestic producers from below-market “transhipped” products originally produced in China and imported to the U.S. via another country, she said.

Nucor Corp., the biggest U.S. steel producer by sales, would also benefit if the case is successful, Applebaum said.

U.S. Steel, which got 43 percent of its 2012 operating income from its tubular division, rose 8.3 percent, the most since Jan. 2, to close at $19.25 a share in New York. Luxembourg-based Tenaris’s American depositary receipts, each worth two ordinary shares, gained 9.1 percent, to $44.79.