The Marcellus shale industry has enabled an Export company to expand its footprint in the Pittsburgh area and add 150 jobs.
Officials of Dura-Bond — a supplier of steel pipe, protective pipe coatings and pipeline products — announced Monday plans to hire 150 workers at the company's Steelton facility to fill an order for more than 500 miles of coated steel pipeline for Dominion gas company.
Dominion awarded the roughly $400 million job to Dura-Bond last month as it moves forward with plans for a 550-mile natural gas pipeline to bring energy to Virginia and North Carolina.
Dura-Bond Commercial Vice President Jason Norris said having the shale gas industry on Pittsburgh's doorstep has enabled the company to grow. This week's expansion comes after a 2012 project that added 80 jobs to staff a Dura-Bond pipe-coating mill in Duquesne.
“The Marcellus shale changed the whole market for us,” Norris said. “This area went from a place where a lot of pipe was consumed, with drilling done years ago, to a time when most of that shifted to Texas and (the West). Bringing the Marcellus (shale) online brought a lot of business back to this region.”
Without the shale industry, Norris said, Dura-Bond would be facing an uphill battle, particularly with the 2014 closing of the U.S. Steel plant in McKeesport, which was a reliable customer for the 24-inch large-diameter steel pipe Dura-Bond produces at its Steelton facility.
Norris said he hopes the 150 jobs announced Monday will be permanent.
“That all depends on how the energy industry goes,” he said. “If it's less attractive in the future to explore energy in Pennsylvania, then these jobs will be done. But we're hoping to make the cycle permanent. That's certainly what we're in business for.”
Norris was joined by Rep. Mike Turzai (R-Marshall) at Monday's press conference, where both touted the importance of the shale industry to Western Pennsylvania and said they hoped Gov. Tom Wolf doesn't advance a proposal for a 5-percent severance tax on shale gas drilling.
Work on creating the pipes themselves is expected to be complete by March 2017, according to Dominion officials.
In a separate move, Dominion also signed an agreement with Dura-Bond to produce 39 miles of additional 36-inch and 30-inch outside diameter steel pipe for the company's Supply Header Project in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Norris said Dura-Bond officials have been hiring in key positions and “plan on ramping that up come spring and summer.”
For the Export native, it's good news he hopes will only get better.
“If it wasn't for Marcellus shale, our pipe-making and coating operations would be severely challenged, and we certainly wouldn't have made the investment in (our coating facility) in 2012,” Norris said. “That was a direct result of Marcellus.”
Patrick Varine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-871-2365 firstname.lastname@example.org.