Pipe makers want more detail on promised infrastructure bonanza

Dec 27, 2008 | 07:00 PM |

You might think an economic stimulus package that could top $850 billion in cost and likely includes at least $150 billion for infrastructure would work some steel pipe and tube producers into a lather.

If you do, you'd mostly be wrong.

With a few exceptions on the structural side, most steel tube and pipe insiders say it's just too early to say how or when any big infrastructure spending plan might help them.

In general, the industry appears to welcome the much-touted but still vague infrastructure spending plan of President-elect Barack Obama. But many also say they'll remain cautious until more details are revealed. Most won't get really excited until legislation is passed and money is allocated to specific projects.

Still, some say they stand to benefit. Light infrastructure could be good for mechanical tubing. Bigger projects could help piling pipe. And any general pickup in the economy could boost energy consumption and bolster drilling and exploration activity, they reason.

But before we come to any conclusions, let's see what we know so far—in short, not a lot.

Obama said earlier this month that his administration "will create millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s." If he's talking new road projects, that's wonderful news if you make rebar and cement. Maybe not so great if you're providing pipe to the beleaguered auto industry or feeding into an energy sector scaling back activity in the face of dwindling commodity prices.....

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