NEW YORK (Reuters) - A surge in imports of steel products into the United States so far this year could threaten the market for steel pipes for the oil and gas industry, one of the strongest sectors in the U.S. market, U.S. Steel Corp (X.N) Chief Executive John Surma said on Tuesday.
Imports of steel pipe into the United States jumped sharply in the first four months of the year from 2011, Surma said, a sign that foreign companies could be breaching global trade rules.
“That is a case for major concern,” Surma told AMM’s Steel Success Strategies conference in New York on Tuesday.
A boom in the drilling for oil and gas in the United States in recent years has triggered a jump in demand for steel pipes used in wells and to transport fuel to market.
Steel imports into the United States jumped more than 17 percent to 2.7 million tons in April compared with a year earlier, according to the most recent government data.
U.S. import data showed overall steel imports have jumped nearly 28 percent so far this year, raising fears in the U.S. industry that the economic slowdown in China had prompted producers there to ship excess production to North America.
U.S. Steel has been among the most vocal in the industry in pointing to potential trade violations, and Washington has been increasing its pressure on foreign governments.
Last month, the U.S. Commerce Department set new preliminary duties on some Indian imports after it said it had determined that Indian companies were selling circular welded carbon-quality steel pipe in the United States at nearly 50 percent below fair market value.
Cheap Chinese steel imports have also attracted punitive duties in the United States, and China made those U.S. duties the subject of a trade complaint at the WTO last month.
Last week, Nucor Corp (NUE.N), the second-largest U.S. steelmaker by production, blamed weak prices due to surging imports from countries including Turkey and Russia for its weaker-than-expect profit forecast for the current quarter. <ID: nL3E8HD960>
Reporting By Matt Daily; Editing by Josephine Mason, Bernard Orr