Energy & Environment

As Waiver Requests Are Considered, Energy Sector Feels Impacts of Steel Tariffs

The energy sector continues to push back against the Trump Administration’s trade moves

Steel pipe manufactured in Bay City, TX for use in the oil and gas industry

As the Trump Administration slogs through more than 20,000 requests for waivers from tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, the tariffs are already impacting the energy sector.

Case in point: Bill New’s South Louisiana company New Industries, a specialty steel fabricator that builds things like huge pressured tanks for oil and gas companies.

At a hearing last week, New told top U.S. trade officials how his 90-person company, which he calls “tiny” compared to oilfield service giants Halliburton and Schlumberger, has struggled with a 25 percent increase in raw steel costs.

In an interview, New also said steel supplies have dropped, he presumes mostly because of “panic buying” when the tariffs were first announced.

And how do the companies he sells to feel about all this?

“Well, they’re not happy about having to pay more,” New laughs. “You know, because I’m certainly passing those increases on to my customers.”

The industry group American Petroleum Institute also spoke to officials about the administration’s trade moves last week, telling them the existing tariffs are hitting about 100 products used in oil and gas production, and that future tariffs under consideration would cause more pain.

Meanwhile, API adviser Aaron Padilla told officials the industry is worried about how further retaliation from China and the two countries’ strained relationship could hinder oil exports, which are a big part of the administration’s own goal of “energy dominance.”

“China receives about 20 percent of total U.S. crude exports but can easily turn to other countries,” Padilla said, according to a transcript of the hearing. 

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Travis Bubenik

Travis Bubenik

Energy & Environment Reporter

Travis Bubenik reports on the tangled intersections of energy and the environment in Houston and across Texas. A Houston native and proud Longhorn, he returned to the Bayou City after serving as the Morning Edition Host & Reporter for Marfa Public Radio in Far West Texas. Bubenik was previously the...

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