(Removes reference to welded product in para 3)
* Q4 shipments up 2.9 percent vs Q3
* FY shipments down 0.3 pct vs 2011
* Sees “some growth” in 2013 on strong Russian demand
MOSCOW, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Russia’s TMK, a global supplier of steel pipes for the energy sector, expressed cautious optimism on Tuesday over its 2013 production outlook thanks to a recovery in domestic demand for its core pipe product.
TMK, the biggest steel pipe supplier to the country’s energy sector, lost a chunk of sales in 2012 after its main customer Gazprom slashed purchases for its pipeline projects.
However, TMK said domestic demand for TMK’s key product, oil country tubular goods (OCTG), bounced back in late 2012 and would remain strong in the first half this year.
The company reported that its 2012 shipments fell 0.3 percent year-on-year to 4.22 million tonnes, but fourth-quarter shipments rose 2.9 percent from the prior quarter on OCTG demand.
“The company confirms its cautiously positive outlook for the current year and expects some growth of shipments to be achieved,” TMK said in a statement.
The company was less confident on the short-term outlook for international shipments, saying the U.S. market would be “filled with uncertainty” in the first half of 2013. A U.S. gas glut has hit prices and drilling activity.
TMK has been eyeing eyed North America’s shale gas boom as a growth opportunity, with chairman and main shareholder Dmitry Pumpyansky telling Reuters last year he hoped the United States would ramp up gas exports. (Reporting by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Erica Billingham)