Trade groups ask Trump to consider steel import tariff exemptions

Eight US oil and gas trade association leaders jointly urged President Donald Trump to at least allow exemptions for energy projects’ materials if he moves ahead with imposing a tariff on imported steel.

Eight US oil and gas trade association leaders jointly urged President Donald Trump to at least allow exemptions for energy projects’ materials if he moves ahead with imposing a tariff on imported steel.

“We fear that broad tariffs on the specialty steels used by our industry would cause future projects to be delayed or canceled, thus threatening America’s energy dominance and risking higher prices for families at the gas pump, natural gas ratepayers, and energy-consuming employers nationwide,” they said in their Mar. 7 letter.

Andrew J. Black of the Association of Oil Pipe Lines, Donald F. Santa of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, Mark Sutton of the GPA Midstream Association, Dena E. Wiggins of the Natural Gas Supply Association, Charlie Riedl of the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas, V. Bruce Thompson of the American Exploration & Production Council, Toby Mack of the Energy Infrastructure & Equipment Alliance, and Thure Cannon of the Texas Pipeline Association signed the letter.

All are presidents of their groups, except for Riedl, who is CLNG’s executive director.

The letter pointed out that just as in real estate, promising pipeline projects have not gone forward because the costs were too high, or they required building materials not sufficiently available. “We understand and respect your concern for domestic steel manufacturers,” the leaders told Trump. “We, too, hope to see domestic steel and pipe manufacturers always able to supply products on the terms needed for the American pipeline expansion you have so well promoted.”

But pipeline-grade steel is a high-cost specialty product in a cyclical niche market that some US manufacturers have moved away from, they said. “In fact, for certain pipeline steel products, there is zero domestic availability today. Applying steel tariffs to transmission pipelines, oil country tubular goods, and other parts of oil and gas production and transportation cannot be the best way to help,” the leaders said.

“While we discourage you from imposing steel tariffs, we urge you at least to allow exemptions when steel products needed for energy production, processing, refining, transportation, and distribution are not sufficiently available in domestic markets. Doing no less will threaten American energy workers and consumers,” they said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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