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HQ 082905

October 21, 1988

CLA-2 CO:R:CV:G: 082905 JLV; 830857 NY


TARIFF NO.: 7305.00.0000; 610.3264

Robert C. Cassidy, Jr.
Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering
2445 M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037

RE: Classification of structural pipe for use as insert piles in an offshore drilling and production platform

Dear Mr. Cassidy:

In a letter of June 22, 1988, as supplemented by a letter of October 5, 1988, you request on behalf of your client, Marathon Oil Company (Marathon), a ruling on the tariff classification under the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS) and the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS) of certain tubular products from Japan. Marathon proposes to use these products to repair a damaged leg on an offshore gas and oil drilling and production platform in Alaska.


The tubular products, described by you as "insert piles," consist of 154 sixty-foot sections; each section measures 26 inches in outside diameter; 41 sections have a wall thickness of 0.75 inch, 31 sections have a wall thickness of 1.0 inch, and 82 sections have a wall thickness of 1.5 inches. The wall thickness determines the location of a section in the piles when assembled into 900-foot units. Weld beads measuring approximately 1/4-inch in height are located around the circumference of the outside of the 1.0-inch piles and the 1.5-inch piles at 48-inch intervals; these beads will provide additional bonding with the cement that will be packed around the piles. These piles will be inserted into the legs of the platform as structural supports for the platform and as casing through which wells will be drilled and other strings of casing and tubulars will be inserted to recover gas and oil.

Marathon proposes to use these insert piles to act as load-bearing units which will, in effect, extend the existing leg module which, because of a well blowout at the base of the leg, is no longer resting on firm soil. Marathon will install the insert piles by drilling through the 34-inch diameter piles already located in the leg module; the drilling will continue until a firm soil foundation is reached. The piles will be inserted through the 34-inch existing piles and will extend approximately 627 feet into the seafloor. These piles will be cemented into the soil and the existing 34-inch piles. The total length of the insert piles will be 900 feet.

Additional facts are as follows: the 0.75-inch and the 1.0-inch piles are fabricated according to API Specification 5L for X-52 line pipe, but are not hydrotested and cannot be used as API line pipe. The 1.5-inch piles are fabricated according to ASTM A633 Grade C. All of the piles are fabricated by submerged arc welding which results in a longitudinal raised bead on the seam. The steel is a high strength, low temperature steel specified for the application in the high load (ice; extreme tidal movement) and low temperatures of the Cook Inlet environment. The minimum specified yield strength of the pile steel is 50 KSI, and the Charpy impact values are specified to be 25 foot-pounds at minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Based on the chemical requirements for the steel set forth in ASTM Spec A633 Grade C, the insert piles are not made from alloy steel as defined in headnote 2(h)(ii) of part 2, schedule 6, TSUS, or as defined in legal note 1(f) of chapter 72, HTS, which is the definition for alloy steel throughout the HTS.


Under the TSUS, are the insert piles of a class or kind of merchandise that is chiefly used as parts of offshore drilling platforms? Under the HTS, are the insert piles classified as tubes in heading 7305 under General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 1?


In a ruling of March 11, 1986 (file 077577), we held that similar tubular merchandise, called conductor pipe, was classified as pipe. The structural tubing in that case was 26-inch pipe (outside diameter) in various lengths and coated or clad with protective materials. The wall thickness of each length was 1.0 inch. In a ruling of March 30, 1987 (file 079943) we held that unassembled subsections of conductor
piles were classified as parts of offshore platforms. The imported subsections consisted of the total number of conductor pilings for the offshore platform. Furthermore, the 213-foot subsections were constructed of 26-inch pipe (outside diameter) of several wall thicknesses. The various subsections had stabbing guides that were fitted and welded inside the ends to facilitate the joining of the subsections.

For the reasons discussed in this decision, we distinguish the facts in our ruling of March 30, 1987 (file 079943), from the facts of this case, and conclude that the ruling is not controlling in this case.

Headnote 1(iv), part 2, schedule 6, excludes "parts of articles" from classification in that part. Therefore, even though pipes and tubes are specifically provided for in part 2 of schedule 6, the "specific provision" limitation in General Interpretative Rule 10(ij) on the classification of parts under the TSUS is made inapplicable by operation of headnote 1(iv). Standard Commodities Import & Export Corp. v. United States, ___CIT___ (Slip Op. 88-46, dated April 21, 1988), and cases therein. However, General Interpretative Rule 10(ij) also requires that, to be classified in a parts provision, the merchandise must be chiefly used as a part of the article.

Chief use, as defined in General Interpretative Rule 10(e)(i), is the use that exceeds all other uses combined for the class or kind to which the imported articles belong. Actual or intended use is not conclusive as to the chief use requirement. In this case, the actual use of the articles (60-foot sections of tubing) may be established, but the 60- foot sections still belong to the class or kind of structural tubing that has much broader uses. The court, in United States v. Carborundum Co., 63 CCPA 98, at 102, C.A.D. 1172 (1976), discussed some of the relevant factors in determining the class or kind of merchandise. In applying the relevant criteria to the insert piles, we conclude the following: they conform to the general physical characteristics and standards for numerous types of structural tubular products; they are used as structural supports; they are not, by design or other feature, precluded from use as structural material in applications other than as offshore platform piles; they are recognized by the industry as belonging to the general class of structural tubulars; and the expectations of the user are the same as those for the broad class of structural tubulars. Unlike the subsections fabricated from tubing of multiple wall thicknesses (file 079943), the sections of tubing in this case are merely long sections of structural pipe and tube.

The addition of the weld bead on the 1.0 and 1.5-inch sections does not advance the tubing to the point that they are "more than pipe or tubes" or that they become a separate class or kind of structural material.

The HTS, the tariff classification law for the United States effective January 1, 1989, requires that "classifica- tion shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes and, provided such headings or notes do not otherwise require, according to the following provisions..." GRI 1. The relevant "following" provision is GRI 3(a), as follows:

3. When . . . for any other reason . . . goods are, prima facie, classifiable under two or more headings, classification shall be effected as follows:

(a) The heading which provides the most specific description shall be preferred to headings providing a more general description . . . .

The two headings in the HTS are: heading 7305 which provides for certain welded steel tubes which have internal and external circular cross sections and an external diameter which exceeds 406.4 mm; and heading 8431 which provides for parts suitable for use solely or principally with the machinery of headings 8425 to 8430 [other boring machinery for minerals].

Under GRI 1, the heading and legal notes are to be considered together. In this case, note 1(f), Section XV [Chapters 72 to 83], excludes machinery of Section XVI (i.e., Chapter 84). However, the imported lengths constitute lengths of pipe or tube similar to any other type of welded pipe or tube; they are not machinery. The specific length of the piles, the low temperature metallurgy, and the type of fabrication have no bearing, in this case, on the description of the goods as welded pipe in heading 7305.

Heading 8431 provides for parts of machinery, such as the offshore drilling and production platform [heading 8430; specifically, subheading 8430.49.4000]. There are no legal notes that specifically address the inclusion or exclusion of goods such as the insert piles in chapter 84. Therefore, the insert piles are prima facie classifiable under two headings.

Under GRI 3(a), the heading with the most specific description is preferred. In this case, the clear description of the goods in heading 7305 controls. To the extent that the insert piles are material lengths of tubes and have not been made up into specific identifiable articles, they are accurately described as welded steel (not alloy) tubes with circular cross sections and external diameter which exceeds 406.4 mm. On the other hand, the term "parts" in heading 8431 covers numerous different types of goods, whether machinery or made-up steel components. Therefore, the more specific heading is 7305.

The Explanatory Notes to heading 73.05, Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, Vol. 2, the official interpretation of the HTS at the international level, state that the products in this heading include tubes for piling or structural columns. This describes the product in issue. The addition of the weld beads to enhance the adhesion of the cement to the piles does not result in a good that has been advanced beyond its condition as a tube.


Under the TSUS Annotated, the insert piles are classified as welded pipes and tubes of circular cross section, other than alloy steel, 0.375 inch or more in outside diameter, and, for statistical purposes, over 16 inches in outside diameter and having a minimum yield strength of 40,000 p.s.i. or more, in item 610.3264, rather than as parts of offshore drilling platforms in item 652.9700.

Under the HTS Annotated, the insert piles are classified as other longitudinally welded tubes having internal and external circular cross sections, the external diameter of which exceeds 406.4 mm, of nonalloy steel, in subheading 7305.31.6000, rather than as parts suitable for use solely or principally with the machinery of heading 8430 in subheading 8431.43.4000.


John Durant, Director

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