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Win in OCTG case to help prices: Longhi

Keywords: Tags  U.S. Steel, OCTG, trade case, oil country tubular goods, critical circumstances, third-quarter results, Dan Lesnak, Thorsten Schier

NEW YORK — If U.S. oil country tubular goods (OCTG) producers prevail in an anti-dumping review of imports from nine countries, pricing in the OCTG market should improve, according to U.S. Steel Corp.’s top executive.

"I think the investigation will proceed and an affirmative decision should result in import prices reflecting more of a regular market condition vs. prices distorted by unfair trade practices," president and chief executive officer Mario Longhi said during the company’s third-quarter earnings conference call.

The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker does not see enough evidence to invoke critical circumstances in the case, which is currently before the U.S. Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration (ITA).

"We have not seen anybody cross the line that would prompt us to go toward the critical circumstances argument. Nobody’s turned that way on us. Korean imports picked up a little bit ... this quarter, but I’d say nothing that would jump out as someone really trying to beat the process," said Dan Lesnak, manager for investor relations.

In the event of critical circumstances, anti-dumping duties would be retroactively imposed 90 days prior to preliminary determinations in the case, which are set to be made Feb. 13.

U.S. Steel pegs OCTG inventory at about 2.78 million tons, or about 5.5 months’ supply, which Lesnak said is within the normal range.

The import share stood at 47 percent for OCTG and 49 percent for line pipe during the quarter, according to a company presentation, compared with 47 percent and 55 percent, respectively, last quarter (, July 31).

Total apparent demand for OCTG rose 5 percent from the prior quarter to 1.77 million tons, with domestic shipments rising 3 percent while imports, led by Korea, rose 7 percent, Longhi said.

Line pipe project awards slowed "considerably" during the period, while demand for structural tubing remains steady, the company said.

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