Layoffs, delays continue to plague pipe mills as demand dwindles

Dec 14, 2008 | 07:00 PM |

Another round of layoffs and production cuts is spreading across the pipe and tube sector, and more seem likely to follow.

The numbers are not staggering compared with the thousands of job cuts and big production pullbacks already announced on the flat-rolled side of the steel industry. But they are yet another indication that pipe, tube and plate—once considered less vulnerable than sheet—are now feeling the full heat of the global economic crisis.

Evraz Inc. NA, the North American operating division of Russia's Evraz Group, cut 90 jobs at its pipe operation in Camrose, Alberta, a company spokeswoman told Perspectives. Those cuts, along with 38 more at its Claymont Steel facility in Claymont, Del., were effective Dec. 12.

"Like every other North American manufacturer, we're monitoring on a day-to-day basis and adjusting our operations accordingly," the spokeswoman said.

"All production on our large diameter mills, including Camrose, are related to specific customer's oil or gas transmission pipeline projects," the spokeswoman said. "To date several of these projects have been postponed or deliveries extended."

Camrose produces electric-resistance weld pipe up to 16 inches in diameter and larger-diameter pipe for transmission lines, according to the company's Web site. Claymont makes steel plate.

In a past interview with Perspectives, Jim Clarke, Evraz Inc. NA's vice president of tubular operations, voiced concern about order entry at Camrose and pipe operations in Portland, Ore. Evraz Inc. NA has already cut production schedules for plate, heat treat, structural tubing and spiral pipe at Portland, costing 130 workers their jobs.....

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