NEW YORK Participants in the oil country tubular goods (OCTG) market say a trade case against South Korean producers of welded energy tubulars is "imminent," with a distributor reporting that at least one producer has already reserved the right to cancel shipments if a trade petition is filed.
"They have the right to cancel if an (anti-dumping suit) hits," the distributor said.
A number of mills in the United States, including U.S. Steel Corp. (amm.com, Oct. 31) and Tenaris SA (amm.com, Nov. 8), have said that they are mulling a trade case against producers in the Asian nation due to a substantial increase in low-priced imports. Boulogne-Billancourt, France-based seamless producer Vallourec SA has also said a U.S. trade case is in the works (amm.com, Nov. 9).
South Korea imported 840,703 tons of welded OCTG to the domestic market from January to November last year, a 31.7-percent increase over the same period in 2011, according to figures from the Commerce Department.
"The Koreans are just saturating the market right now," the OCTG distributor said.
A trader confirmed the trend, noting that he sees a distinct possibility of an anti-dumping suit being filed in the "next four to six weeks." However, he cautioned that such talk has been ongoing for the past couple of years.
"Theres always somebody else that tells somebody that its imminent. It can only be imminent for a week or two, but not two years," he said.
He suggested that mills could be waiting for the upcoming earnings season to file the petition.
"They could be waiting for another quarterly result that might show their earnings going down or whatever they need to prove," he said.
Some sources said a dumping suit would be one way to address a growing oversupply of energy tubulars in the U.S. market.
"More capacity is coming on-stream both in the U.S. and overseas. The only salvation would be a dumping suit," the trader said.
Sources said the possible case could also include other Asian or even Eastern European nations. Vietnam was the second-largest importer of welded OCTG to the domestic market over the first 11 months of 2012, bringing in 209,836 tons, nearly triple the volumes brought in during the same period in 2011, Commerce figures show.