(New throughout, adds comment from executive, background on tubular steel trade case.)
June 2 (Reuters) - United States Steel Corp said on Monday it is idling two facilities in Pennsylvania and Texas that make tubular steel, saying the plants are losing money partly because of unfair trade from low-cost rivals in other countries.
The steelmaker said the move will affect about 260 employees at the loss-making plants in McKeesport, Pennsylvania and Bellville, Texas, which will be idled in early August.
The shutdowns come in the midst of one of the biggest steel trade cases in years, over imports of specialty steel pipe used to drill for oil and gas, known in the industry as oil country tubular goods.
“While these are difficult decisions, they are necessary in order to return our company to sustainable profitability and position us for future growth,” said U.S. Steel Chief Executive Mario Longhi in a release.
“We will continue to fight unfair trade by foreign competitors who are creating a detrimental impact and threat to middle-class paying manufacturing jobs.”
In February the Commerce Department opted, in a preliminary decision, not to impose duties on oil country tubular goods from South Korea, although it did find that several other countries were selling the goods below cost.
The investigation came after a petition from U.S. Steel and several other producers with operations in the United States, and the preliminary decision sent their shares tumbling.
In March, Longhi and other steel industry executives called on trade officials to reverse the decision and impose duties on tubular steel from South Korea.
On Monday, Longhi said U.S. Steel is still committed to the tubular business. It will continue to produce and finish the goods in Alabama, Arkansas, Ohio and Texas. (Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and David Gregorio)