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JMC exec expecting US victory in OCTG case

Keywords: Tags  JMC Steel Group, Barry Zekelman, Wheatland Tube, Atlas Tube, Energex Tube, oil country tubular goods, OCTG, trade petition hot-rolled steel

CHICAGO — U.S. oil country tubular goods (OCTG) producers likely will win a trade petition filed against imports from nine nations as steel prices appear poised to settle at a reasonable level, according to JMC Steel Group Inc.’s top executive.

"We’re pretty confident we’ll have a positive outcome ... and I think it’s going to be good for the industry," said JMC executive chairman and chief executive officer Barry Zekelman. "The dumped product was just getting ridiculous."

If domestic producers win, it will mean increased consumption of both U.S.-made tubulars and flat-rolled substrate, Zekelman told AMM at JMC’s Wheatland Tube Co. plant in Chicago, which also is home to JMC’s corporate headquarters.

The U.S. International Trade Commission voted unanimously Aug. 16 that there is a reasonable indication the domestic OCTG industry is being materially injured by imports from India, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam (, Aug. 16). Domestic petitioners in the case include Energex Tube, a division of JMC Steel Group.

Meanwhile, JMC is adding shifts at the Wheatland Tube facility in Chicago, Energex in Thomasville, Ala., and Atlas Tube Inc. in Blytheville, Ark. "Energex is really starting to grow. Hopefully, with these (OCTG) imports being pushed back out, we’ll get up to the operating levels there that we need," Zekelman said.

But while JMC may be adding shifts at two Energex facilities in Thomasville, skilled workers—including electricians, millwrights and welders—have been hard to come by, Zekelman said. "You can’t find the talent, and you’re competing with other (businesses)."

Zekelman said there are opportunities in the North American manufacturing sector. "People need to quit going to school to be a doctor or a lawyer or an accountant and then not finding jobs," he said. "Now there are good jobs in manufacturing. People just need to be willing to look at it again."

He disagreed with talk about steel prices falling. "The steel market is OK. People are trying to talk it down, but I don’t see it happening," he said. "It will settle into a good price level that is healthy for both steel producers and buyers. But trying to talk it into a freefall, I think that’s just really irresponsible."

Zekelman also questioned the reliability of sources providing pricing data to trade publications. "We need to get rid of this ‘Midwest market source.’ None of them are brave enough to say their names because they’re guessing or not telling the truth," he said.

JMC Steel might be in a good position to know, given its annual appetite for more than 2.5 million tons of hot-rolled steel—more than is consumed by General Motors Co., Zekelman said. "We are the largest hot-rolled buyer in North America ... so it’s pretty decent chunk of steel."

Hot-rolled sheet prices have edged down to $32.50 per hundredweight ($650 per ton) f.o.b. Midwest mill from $32.75 per cwt ($655 per ton) previously, according to AMM’s most recent assessment (, Sept. 12).

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