US mills fight OCTG Section 232 tariff exclusion requests

Requests to excuse some imports of oil country tubular goods (OCTG) from the Section 232 tariff are being met with a backlash from US domestic producers.

At least four domestic tube mills have submitted comments objecting to exclusion requests for imported OCTG, according to summaries on the US Commerce Department’s docket as of Monday May 21.

Over the weekend, the total number of comments received on the Section 232 steel and aluminium exemption submissions crossed the 10,000 mark. The number of exclusion requests posted for public view totaled 4,313 by noon Monday, New York time.

Of the comments visible to the public, a large proportion targeted requests to exclude certain OCTG imports from the Section 232 remedies. The main target was Borusan Mannesmann Pipe USA, which has asked for exceptions on importation from its Turkish parent that the Baytown, Texas, mill argues enhances its US domestic operations and employment.

Opposition comments arrived on behalf of US competitors Zekelman Industries, Maverick Tube, Boomerang Tube and TMK Ipsco.

Zekelman unit Wheatland Tube even argued its case by citing the capabilities of a mill that currently is not producing OCTG. One particular item for which Borusan Mannesmann requested an exclusion is 9 5/8-inch J55 casing with a wall thickness of 0.352 inches. Wheatland’s president of energy tubulars, Randy Boswell, submitted an objection arguing that a sister company’s Blytheville, Arkansas, mill used to supply that size casing.

“Zekelman Industries’ plant in Blytheville ... is capable of making this product in J55 or upgradeable product,” one Boswell filing states. “The Blytheville mill has run OCTG products for many years until its idling in late 2015 due to oversupply by imports.”

On other sizes for which Borusan Mannesmann requested exclusions, Boswell noted that there are two or three Zekelman mills that can provide equivalent material. Boswell has submitted at least 18 objections.

Maverick Tube also has submitted 18 objections. Ryan Chadwick, vice president, secretary and general counsel of TMK Ipsco, has entered at least 20 comments. Boomerang Tube has submitted seven.

Houston-based TMK Ipsco is protesting the Borusan Mannesmann effort even though Ipsco itself has filed for Section 232 exclusions on imports of green tube and plain-end OCTG from its Russian affiliates.

Although 4,313 exclusion requests have been made public, with mandatory comment periods underway, an estimated total of more than 8,200 have been submitted, according to the Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users.

American Metal Market’s pricing assessment for US domestic J55 casing stands at $1,250-1,400 per ton fob mill. The midpoint of that price range was below $1,000 per ton as recently as February, before President Donald Trump announced his Section 232 actions, including a 25% tariff on imported steel.

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