U.S. Steel is restarting a second idled facility in two years, bringing back online the electric-weld pipe mill at its Long Star Tubular Operations in Texas.
The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker laid off up to 677 employees there in 2016 during the height of the import crisis and when crude oil prices crashed, putting a halt to a lot of drilling and exploration. U.S. Steel blamed the indefinite plant idling on "challenging market conditions for tubular products created by fluctuating oil prices, reduced rig counts and high levels of unfairly traded imports."
But market conditions have since improved for the steel industry. Last year, U.S. Steel restored an idled blast furnace at Granite Works in southwestern Illinois, hiring back 300 steelworkers.
U.S. Steel expects to hire 140 new employees when it relaunches the Lone Star No. 1 Mill, which had an annual capacity of 400,000 tons.
“We are encouraged by an improvement in market conditions and an increased customer demand for tubular products that are mined, melted and made in America,” U.S. Steel President and CEO David Burritt said.
The Lone Star No. 1 Mill will make electric-welded pipe for customers across the country, including at the Permian Basin oil field in west Texas.
“We continue to evaluate all options to align our manufacturing capacity with the growing energy market. Restarting the Lone Star No. 1 Mill will give our customers access to the high-quality electric-welded pipe they expect from U.S. Steel,” said Douglas Matthews, a senior vice president at the company.
The pipe mill is expected to be back online in the third quarter of the year.