U.S. steel pipe producers like Youngstown's Vallourec Star and others are being hurt by foreign imports dumped below market price by nine other countries, according to a preliminary decision issued Friday by the U.S. International Trade Commission.
Following Friday's unanimous vote from all six trade commission members, investigators will begin a more in-depth probe into formal complaints made last month by the nine American pipe producers alleging the resurgence in U.S. oil and gas exploration is being threatened by unfairly dumped imports of steel pipes.
The commission launched a preliminary investigation, reporting its findings last week. That preliminary report won't be released publicly until next month.
In addition to Vallourec, other companies involved in the complaint included Brookfield's TMK IPSCO and a division of JMC Steel Group, the company that operates local Wheatland Tube plants, U.S. Steel and five other domestic manufacturers.
The companies are seeking tariffs on "oil country tubular goods" or OCTG products, imported from India, Korea, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam.
As a result of a preliminary investigation, the trade commission determined "there is a reasonable indication that a U.S. industry is materially injured by reason of imports of certain oil country tubular goods ... that are allegedly sold in the United States at less than fair value and allegedly subsidized by the governments of India and Turkey."
According to information released by the trade commission, the U.S. Department of Commerce will conduct its investigation on imports of these products, with a preliminary determinations due Sept. 25, and preliminary antidumping duty determinations due Dec. 9.
The complaint maintains the benefits of supplying the oil and gas industry during the recent resurgence of the industry were cut short for domestic manufacturers "as imports from the subject countries rushed in at an extraordinary rate. Import levels from these countries more than doubled in just two years," according to the filing by attorneys representing the nine domestic pipe and steel producers.
"The producers in these countries did not grab market share by competing fairly, but increased their sales by offering OCTG at dumped and subsidized prices," the complaint stated.
Imports from the nine countries more than doubled in volume from 840,312 tons in 2010 to 1,771,320 tons in 2012.
A Congressional letter sent July 31 to the chairman of the International Trade Commission encouraged the commission to take action to ensure competition on a level playing field. The letter was signed by local officials U.S. Reps. Timothy J. Ryan, D-Niles, and Bill Johnson, R-Marietta.