Tuesday, February 28, 2017

After a long slump, Pa's steel industry is growing again

Dura-Bond pipe plant in Steelton Pa is seeing a steady rise in work thanks to new natural gas pipelines 

Joseph N. DiStefano writes for Philly.com

"It has been a brutal 20 years" for eastern Pennsylvania steelmakers, and now the industry's growing again, says Wayne-based engineer James L. Barends, who built projects for Alcoa, DuPont, Merck and several of the region's current and former steel plants, and headed the investment group that made a final effort to save the late Phoenix Steel Co. pipe mill on the Schuylkill in the 1990s.

"It is wonderful to see something go right for industry," Barends told me, noting how government approvals of East Coast and Midwest pipeline projects -- and President Trump's order that they use American pipe -- means jobs for Pennsylvania manufacturers like Jason Norris' family-owned Dura-Bond, which my colleague Andrew Maykuth recently profiled here. See also here.

"The potential benefits that will ripple from the new pipelines in Pennsylvania are actually pretty large and wide spread," and Dura-Bond, based in Duquesne, Pa., "is first in line," since it has updated Bethlehem Steel's former pipe mill in Steelton, between Harrisburg and the Pennsylvania Turnpike bridge over the Susquehanna.

Steelton "is the same pipe mill that provided the pipe for the Trans Alaska pipeline and hundreds of others projects over four decades," notes Barends. "They are one of the biggest U-and-O-ing pipe mills in the world, and they have seen a steady rise in work" as gas and oil exploration returned to Pennsylvania. To make steel pipe, steel plate is pressed into a U shape, then sealed into an O.

The Steelton pipe mill "was idle, but sound and needed upgrades, when Dura-Bond took it over (2003). Dura-Bond modernized the facility and reopened it. They recently announced they are hiring 150 people for a second shift and will supply the line pipe for the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline." Dura-Bond has also prepares pipe for Sunoco Logistics' Mariner pipelines.

Read the full story here

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