Patriotism Is Pipe Dream to Some Steel Purchasers

By Brian O'Neill | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), June 8, 2014 | Go to article overview

Patriotism Is Pipe Dream to Some Steel Purchasers


Brian O'Neill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


If Marcellus Shale is a boon to American manufacturing, why is the U.S. Steel plant that supplies pipe to the drillers shutting down in McKeesport?

The steel industry has named its villain: South Korean manufacturers who illegally dump their tubes here. But if American drillers weren't buying them, that wouldn't be a problem.

Some drillers mustn't have gotten the message from the chest- pounding commercial that Range Resources has out there. Perhaps you've seen it:

"Workers here have always been a proud bunch," the narrator begins as we watch a middle-age guy carrying a lunch bucket on a steep Pittsburgh street. "All they ever wanted was the opportunity to show what they can do," we hear as our man works with others to make pipe down at the mill, all of them clearly the kind of guys you'd love to have a beer with.

The ad is shot in black and white, but at the end when these workers emerge from the mill with a section of pipe, the Range Resources people walking toward them to take the handoff are in color! Holy Wizard of Oz!

The narrator concludes, "Now, thanks to our abundant natural gas, manufacturing is on its way back. And for a new generation, opportunity awaits."

The Range Resources logo and the words "Drilling is just the beginning" close the 30-second show. Also closing, we learned last week, are pipe-making plants in McKeesport and Texas. That will cost 260 workers their jobs.

Let's be clear: Range Resources is not the company going off- script. It has been and will continue to be a big customer of U.S. Steel piping, both companies agree.

Apart from a top piece of steel used in the initial drilling phase, all the steel that Range uses comes from U.S. Steel, Range spokesman Matt Pitzarella said. That's true not only for its Pennsylvania operations, but its work in Texas and Oklahoma, he said.

That shouldn't change. U.S. Steel has eight other tubular facilities in Alabama, Arkansas, Texas and Lorain, Ohio, and a company spokesman said, "We are working directly with our customers to ensure that their needs are met."

OK. …

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