energy production in North America is fueling a boom in the
expansion of steel tube and pipe mills. The latest entrant in
the tube and pipe sweepstakes is Axis Pipe & Tube Inc.,
which announced in late August that it intended to build a
300,000-ton-per-year facility in Bryan, Texas, to make
energy-related tubular products to meet growing demand in the
U.S. oil and natural gas industries.
The Texas facility
will employ 285 people when it begins production in mid-2014.
Axis Pipe & Tube is owned by Prolamsa Inc., which was
formed by Mexican producer Grupo Prolamsa SA de CV in Houston
in 1996. Grupo Prolamsa, which began operating in Mexico as a
manufacturer of metal shapes for doors and windows, expanded
into steel tubular shapes in 1961. The companys pipe and
tube production helped build the Mexican and South American
petroleum industries and became Grupo Prolamsas primary
business during the last quarter of the 20th Century.
In 2001, Grupo
Prolamsa built a state-of-the-art facility in Escobedo, Mexico,
just outside Monterrey. Expanded in 2006-07, the facility is a
world-class tube and pipe producer serving customers in Mexico
and the United States.
In early 2009,
Prolamsa Inc. began manufacturing, stocking and shipping
products from its new U.S. facility in Laredo, Texas. Even
though the American economy was struggling at the time,
Prolamsa recognized the opportunity for tube and pipe in the
nearby Barnet and Eagle Ford shale plays.
Now, Axis Pipe &
Tube is just one of several greenfield expansions announced in
the United States in recent years. In early October, IT-TRI LLC
announced plans to build a $68-million steel tube and pipe
facility on 75 acres in Trinity, Ala. The community had been
devastated by a late-summer announcement that International
Paper Co. intended to close a mill in the area, and the
announcement that the tube and pipe facility would break ground
this fall was welcome news.
According to the
company, the new facility will source its steel from U.S. Steel
Corp. in Birmingham and the Nucor Corp. mill in nearby
Ohio-based V&M USA Corp.s new $650-million
small-diameter pipe mill is up and running. The mill will serve
energy companies exploring for shale gas and tight oil in the
Marcellus shale in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.