TMK IPSCO Warns Brookfield Plant May Close

BROOKFIELD, Ohio – The oil and gas downturn caught up with TMK IPSCO’s plant here Wednesday as employees learned the pipe-threading mill could close in two months unless market conditions greatly improve.

Letters were circulated to about 100 employees informing them of the potential shutdown. As of this morning, the required WARN notice was not posted on the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services website.

TMK IPSCO is the latest manufacturer in the Mahoning Valley to suffer the collapse of demand from companies drilling for oil and gas in the nation’s shale plays. And like Vallourec and Exterran, the opening of TMK’s plant here in 2010 was heralded as indicative of the shale-drilling boom.

By November 2011, TMK was running “pretty much” around the clock, said its president, as the plant hosted a news crew from CNBC preparing a report on the resurgence of manufacturing in the Midwest.

TMK IPSCO manufacturers oil country tubular goods, or OCTG, used in oil and natural gas exploration. The Brookfield plant makes threaded connections and then adds them to pipe produced at TMK plants in Koppel, Pa., and processed in Ambridge, Pa. TMK IPSCO is a division of OAO TMK, Russia’s largest manufacturer and of steel pipes and one of “the global top-three pipe producers,” according to the company’s website.

Workers at TMK’s plants in Ambridge and Wilder, Ky., have already been furloughed, according to published reports.

The chief operating officer of TMK IPSCO is Joel Mastervich, the executive who oversaw the construction and start-up operations at Vallourec Star’s $1 billion Youngstown pipe mill.

Vallourec furloughed an unspecified number of workers in October at the pipe mill, and just this week Vallourec SA, its French parent company said it would cut more than 2,600 jobs in Europe, China and Brazil.

Worldwide more than 258,000 workers lost their jobs in 2015 as a result of rock-bottom oil prices, according to industry consultant Graves & Co., and more job losses are expected this year.

Scheduled to close by March 31 is the $13.2 million plant that Exterran Energy Solutions Inc. opened in April 2013 in Youngstown. The Exterran plant was hailed as a harbinger of the Valley becoming vital in the oil and gas supply chain. Its closing will eliminate the jobs of about 70 workers.

Last month Parker Hannifin closed its pump plant at the Salt Springs Road Industrial Park, idling all 132 employees. The plant made hydraulic gear parts used in heavy equipment for agriculture, oil and gas drilling and other industrial applications.

Other manufacturers to close or sharply reduce operations include Warren Steel Holdings, which said Jan. 11 that its Warren plant would shut down for good, eliminating 150 jobs, and U.S. Steel, which has cut back operations at plants across the country and recently reported it lost $999 million in the fourth quarter.


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