Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley toured the U.S. Steel Irvin Plant in West Mifflin on Monday to talk about the jobs created by the Marcellus Shale industry.
The lieutenant governor spoke to a crowd of roughly 60 steelworkers, flanked by officials of U.S. Steel and other companies who've grown as the state's natural gas sector expands.
"If you're going to drill for gas, you're going to need steel," said Cawley. "Steel for drilling rigs; steel for platforms; steel for pipelines. Clearly, this is a great opportunity for Pennsylvania."
Mills are now running 24 hours a day to keep up with the demand for steel tubing, according to Scott Buckiso of U.S. Steel. He estimated that about 20% of the Irvin mill's production is dedicated to the gas industry — more than doubling over the past few years.
Cawley said other related industries are adding jobs as well, thanks to Marcellus Shale development.
"It's about Dura Bond Pipe, who coats the steel made here. It's about PGT Trucking, who transports the steel, right there," said Cawley, pointing to a PGT eighteen-wheeler. "Those truckers are providing a family-sustaining wage as well."
Because of the high demand, Dura Bond Pipe is in the process of creating a $12 million steel pipe coating facility in Duquesne. Dura Bond Vice President Jason Norris said in the past, uncoated steel was simply shipped out of Pennsylvania.
"The Marcellus Shale has changed all that, because now the material is not only produced here, but it's consumed here," said Norris. "So, we need additional land for lay-down area, because now the pipe needs to be made and sent to us for coating. We put it on the ground and we truck it out to the sites."
Norris said the Duquesne facility will eventually employ about 75 people.
Lieutenant Governor Cawley also touted a relatively new Pennsylvania pipeline regulation law that requires Marcellus Shale drillers to disclose what percentage of the steel they use is produced in the United States. Act 127 also sets quality standards for pipelines. Cawley said the law would encourage energy companies to use locally-made steel.