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November 24, 2014

New International Trade Commission (ITC) Investigation Could Affect Supply of Oil and Gas Tubulars

On July 2nd, U.S. steel pipe “tubular” makers filed a petition with the U.S. International Trade Commission requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation into alleged dumping of oil country tubular goods (OCTGs) from several countries. In re: Oil Country Tubular Goods, U.S. International Trade Commission Preliminary Investigation (Inv. Nos. 701-TA-499-500 and 731-TA-1215-1223 (Preliminary)). The petition, filed on behalf of the United States Steel Corporation and several other makers of tubular products could impact pricing and supplies of OCTGs, which refers to pipe and tube products used in the oil and gas industry.

The complaint asks the Commission to undertake an investigation into whether antidumping duties should be imposed on tubular exports coming to the U.S. from India, Korea, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, and Vietnam.

Under Sections 701 and 731 of the Tariff Act of 1930, the Commission may impose antidumping duties on foreign imports if a foreign government or business is providing “a countervailable subsidy with respect to the manufacture, production, or export of a class or kind of merchandise imported, or sold for importation, into the United States” and the Commission determines that an industry in the United States is materially injured, is threatened with material injury, or is materially retarded. The Commission can initiate an antidumping duty investigation whenever it determines, “from information available to it, that a formal investigation is warranted into the question of whether the elements necessary for the imposition of a duty under section 731 exist.” In the case of a formal petition, the Tariff Act of 1930 provides that an antidumping proceeding “shall be initiated whenever an interested party … files a petition with the [Commission], on behalf of an industry, which alleges the elements necessary for the imposition of the duty imposed by section 731, and which is accompanied by information reasonably available to the petitioner supporting those allegations.”

This obviously isn’t the first time a dumping issue has touched the energy industry. In 2009, U.S. industry filed a similar petition against imports of OCTG pipe products from China. (Inv. Nos. 701-TA-463 (Final)). In that investigation, the Commission concluded U.S. industry was threatened with material injury due to imports from China of certain OCTGs. The Commission imposed anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese OCTG imports from 29.9 to 99.14 percent. As a result, Chinese OCTG imports dropped significantly in 2010. In another case in 2012, the Commission determined that U.S. solar manufacturers were harmed by imports of photovoltaic cells and modules from China. In that decision, the U.S. indicated it would collect tariffs between 18%-250% depending on how far below fair market value the Chinese products were sold. While solar manufactures in the U.S. applauded the decision, project developers were inevitably affected by changes in supply and prices.

© 2014 Bracewell & Giuliani LLP

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