170706_EVRAZ_plant_feature.jpg

At least 75 per cent of the pipe needed for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is coming from a manufacturing facility in Regina that is operated by EVRAZ North America. That supports hundreds of well-paying jobs for Canadians at a facility that has been manufacturing pipeline for many decades.

We recently connected with Christian Messmacher, Vice President, Investor Relations and Strategy for EVRAZ North America to learn more about the 800 kilometres of high-grade steel pipe that Evraz will manufacture for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.

How long has the Regina plant been in operation?

The Regina site has been manufacturing pipe since 1956 when it started operations as Prairie Pipe Manufacturing Company Ltd. with a small-diameter pipe mill to serve the Saskatchewan market for welded line pipe. In 1960, the Regina mill began to produce its own steel and through 1982 it invested in a new rolling mill, a continuous caster and a new re-heat furnace, and installed a spiral pipe mill for large-diameter pipe.

How important is the energy sector to your plant?

The energy sector is the main end-market for the Regina facility. It is easy to forget that energy-related jobs expand well beyond the employees of exploration and mid-stream companies. When you look at the overall impact for EVRAZ, it includes thousands of well-paying middle class jobs for people working in ancillary services, at our steel mills and throughout the scrap steel collection and preparation value chain.

In early 2015, we broke ground on an approximately $220 million dollar project at the Regina site to install a new two-step large diameter line pipe mill that enables the production of larger, thicker-wall pipe, and to make state-of-the-art upgrades to the Regina steelmaking and rolling mills.

This investment along with our Research and Development Centre, which is the largest of its kind focusing on pipe for the energy market in North America, makes us ideally suited to provide the highest quality steel for pipelines.

Tell us about the expertise of your company and the expertise of your workers in making pipeline?

EVRAZ North America is the North American leader in large diameter pipe production for energy transmission applications. Our team has produced more than 63,000 kilometres of line pipe — in 2016 alone we produced more than 3,100 kilometres of line pipe.

As the only producer of large diameter pipe in North America that is vertically integrated into steel making, we can ensure exacting levels of quality across the complete value chain.

We supplement our capabilities with our R&D facility at the Regina mill, which has a world-class team of metallurgists. They specialize in developing enhancements to the safety and performance of the steels and processes we use to manufacture line pipe.

Lastly, we are proud of the expertise, dedication and professionalism that our hundreds of production associates bring to bear to ensure our products consistently meet or exceed our customer requirements.

Would it be correct to say you’re one of the largest employers of workers in Regina?

That is correct. We employ directly more than 1,000 people in Regina and estimate our operations also produced in 2016 about $333 million in regional economic benefits through the purchase of goods and services.

Why use recycled steel to manufacture pipe?

Steel is the most widely recycled material in the world. In fact, more steel is recycled each year than all other recyclable products combined. Every ton of recycled steel saves four cubic yards of landfill space, 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone.

Our steel is made from close to 100 per cent post-consumer waste in an electric arc furnace process (EAF) in Regina. Even better, steel scrap is mostly sourced locally in Canada so the economic benefits remain in Canada.

EAF steel is also cleaner — CO2 emissions per tonne are nearly 80 per cent lower than the blast furnace process, and energy used per tonne is nearly 64 per cent lower.

We use advanced equipment to monitor the chemistry and quality of the resulting steel and to ensure that it meets or exceeds requirements for pipeline applications.

How do you maintain quality control when manufacturing pipeline?

EVRAZ has robust quality control processes to ensure every section of pipe put into a pipeline is as safe as — and of the highest quality — possible.

During steel making, samples are taken to ensure the steel chemistry meets the necessary exacting properties for pipeline pipe. Process parameters are monitored and recorded to ensure every batch of steel we make is of consistently high quality. Samples are analyzed in-house at our metallurgy labs and, when required, at our Research and Development Centre.

The steel moves then to our Tubular facilities, which form the pipe sections. As the steel is welded from a flat sheet into a pipe, ultrasonic non-destructive testing is continuously performed at the welding points and along the entire body of the pipe. The pipe also undergoes a hydrostatic test, where water is pumped through at high pressures to ensure there are no leaks. The pipe is visually inspected, as well as ultrasonically inspected again, before leaving our facility. Third party inspectors are also deployed to provide an independent validation when required by the customer.

Finally, the pipe undergoes coating. At our coating facility, we have state of the art coating and testing facilities to provide assurance that the coating is consistently of the highest quality.

How much pipe can you produce in a year?

Our Regina spiral mills can produce close to half a million tonnes of large diameter pipe per year when operating at full utilization. Every pipeline has a different combination of outside diameter and wall thickness but to give an idea, during 2016 these mills operated at close to 60 per cent capacity and produced approximately 3,100 kilometres of pipe.

Tell us about your commitment to workplace safety?

Safety has been the top priority and a moral commitment at EVRAZ North America since 2010. Our teams have reduced our lost-time injury frequency rate by more than 80 per cent since 2010.