UPDATE 1-US opens probe into steel pipe imports from 9 countries
(Adds background and percentages of duties sought)
WASHINGTON, July 23 (Reuters) - The U.S. Commerce Department on Tuesday launched one of its biggest trade investigations in years into charges that manufacturers in South Korea, India and seven other countries are selling steel pipe used by oil and natural gas producers at unfairly low prices in the United States.
Imports of oil country tubular goods (OCTG) from the nine countries totaled nearly $1.8 billion in 2012, more than double their total in 2010, as rising U.S. oil and natural gas production have increased demand for the pipe.
In 2010, the United States slapped duties on imports of OCTG from China after they hit about $2.8 billion in 2008. The duties slapped on imports from China created an opening for the other foreign suppliers.
The latest case targets South Korea, which exported about $831 million worth of the pipe to the United States last year, as well as India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and Ukraine.
U.S. producers are asking for anti-dumping duties as high as 240 percent on India, 158 percent on South Korea, 118 percent on Thailand and 111 percent on Vietnam to offset what they say is below market pricing, and lesser but still hefty duties on the other five countries.
For two countries, Turkey and India, U.S. producers are seeking additional countervailing duties to offset alledged government subsidies.
(Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)