Ohio's shale boom is expected to revive that state's steel industry. Some steel companies are perched high on the state's ‘shale wave’ that is creating demand for steel tubing for delivery of natural gas from Appalachia's shale reserves.
The steel mills in Youngstown and Lorain, for example, are working hard to meet the demand for steel tubes. Scrap steel is melted at Timken Co in Canton, Ohio, as the point of initiation in a process that will produce steel tubes for gas drilling and other markets.
Shale gas, according to many Ohio-based steel experts, will create jobs and wealth in the state. Gas leases in Stark County near Canton jumped fourfold in 2011 compared to the previous year. From the four wells that went into production in 2011; it is anticipated that close to 2000 wells will have been drilled by the year 2014, according to research by Cleveland State University. Indeed, the entire state has pinned its hopes on the shale gas boom.
This augurs well for demand for steel. Besides steel, Ohio is keen to further reduce unemployment which dropped to 7.7% in January – the rate is already below the US unemployment average of 8.3% in an economic climate that is painfully slow in creating badly needed new jobs. But Ohio has made good progress in bringing down the unemployment rate from 9% in January 2011. The ‘shale wave’, it is hoped, will create jobs in the crucial manufacturing sector, foremost of all the steel industry. However, there are also Cassandra cries warning of the environmental disaster that could result if exploration was carried out indiscriminately, and ignoring environmental protection. It will be interesting to watch the future moves of the industry and the resolve of the politicians calling for gas exploration.
With the latest agreement reached with the United Steelworkers, Timken Co, an Ohio-based steel company, is moving towards building a continuous caster costing $225M at its Canton plant to elevate the quality of its production operations. According to Ohio-based experts, some 90% of Timken's production will eventually find application in the oil and gas exploration efforts.
V&M Star, a joint venture between France's Vallourec Group and Japan's Sumitomo steel, is completing a new $650M steel tube plant alongside its current mill west of Youngstown.
V&M's sister company, VAM USA, will build a $57M plant adjoining the V&M mill to thread pipe for shale gas operations. Republican Steel says it will spend $85 million to expand production in Lorain, west of Cleveland, and its neighbour, US Steel, has announced a $100M investment in its steel tube production.