The US Commerce Department has launched a probe into alleged use of low priced steel imported from countries like India, South Korea and seven other countries by natural gas producers and distributors in the US.
The investigation follows complaints by American steel manufacturers that the near doubling of oil country tubular goods (OCTG) imports from these nine countries to $1.8 billion in 2012, from their levels in 2010, has adversely affected US industry.
Besides India and South Korea, the list also includes Vietnam, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and Ukraine.
The US had, in 2010, slapped anti-dumping duties on imports of OCTG from China after they hit about $2.8 billion in 2008.
The squeeze on Chinese exports of steel pipes and the rising US oil and natural gas production have increased demand for steel pipes in the US, opening avenues for other low-cost suppliers of steel pipes.
South Korea exported steel pipes worth about $831 million to the United States last year, while India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and Ukraine contributed the remaining 969 million tonnes.
Steel pipe makers in the US have asked the US International Trade Commission (ITC) at a hearing to seek anti-dumping duties of up to 240 per cent on India, 158 per cent on South Korea, 118 per cent on Thailand and 111 per cent on Vietnam, to offset the below market pricing of steel pipes and similar high rates of duties on the other five countries.
The aggrieved companies include US Steel, Maverick Tube Corporation, Energex Tube and TMK IPSCO.
US Steel is reported to have told the US International Trade Commission that it had spent $2.1 billion in 2007 to buy a smaller manufacturer to boost its OCTG production.
In the case of India and Turkey, US steel companies are seeking additional countervailing duties to offset alleged government subsidies as well.
The commerce department is expected to make a preliminary decision on countervailing duties in September and on anti-dumping duties in December, with final decisions due in 2014.
ITC will decide in mid-August on whether there is enough evidence that the imports are injuring US producers and approve further probe by the commerce department.
Demand for OCTG in the US peaked between 2010 and 2012, at the time of the construction of a Canada-US gas pipeline.