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  • 04/02/2019
  • Media Releases

Liberty pipe mills pumping more success as Hartlepool steel operation lands new North Sea contract

The growing success story of the Liberty pipe mills at Hartlepool has reached another major milestone with the award of a multi-million contract to supply steel pipeline for North Sea gas.

The mills, which were acquired and relaunched by Liberty, part of Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance, in late 2017, have just begun making the first batch of a total order for 12,000 tonnes of 24” steel pipe from global engineers Subsea7, that will be used in the Shell Shearwater gas field over 200 miles off the coast of Scotland.

Over the next few months workers at Hartlepool will make around 22 miles of heavy-duty pipe that will lie 90 metres under the sea, helping channel millions of cubic metres of gas each day to the huge St Fergus onshore terminal in Aberdeenshire.

This order, along with the Subsea7 contract to provide large diameter steel pipe for Equinor’s Snorre Expansion Project off the coast of Norway, is among the largest contracts secured by the Hartlepool mill since its acquisition by Liberty. It will ensure that both the 42” and 84” mills at Hartlepool have full order books as the operation moves into Spring 2019.

Order books for both mills were also bolstered in recent months by major contracts totalling  over 20,000 tonnes of pipe from the USA, one for the energy sector and another for the construction of chemical giant Lyondell Basell’s new showpiece plant in Texas.

The comeback of the mills, which suffered badly during the downturn in the steel industry over recent years, has seen job numbers grow from 120 up to 200 over the past few months.

This latest Subsea7 order will provide pipe for the Shell Shearwater FGL Re-Plumb Project, designed to channel gas to the Fulmar gas line, via the recently installed Catcher PLEM, for flow to the St. Fergus terminal. Gas is currently transported from the Shearwater C well to the Bacton onshore processing terminal in Norfolk via the SEAL pipeline.

Coated pipe from Hartlepool will be dispatched by ship to the Shawcor concrete coating facility at Leith in Scotland where it will undergo further processing before being taken to its North Sea location.

Liberty Pipes managing director, Andy Hill, said: “This is great news. The team at Hartlepool has put in a lot of hard work to get us back where we belong as an internationally significant producer of high-quality pipe. We’re particularly pleased by our growing relationship with Subsea7, one of the world’s leading seabed-to-surface engineering, construction and services contractors. We now feel more optimistic about our longer-term future.”

Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of the GFG Alliance said: “Hartlepool went through tough times, but we always had faith that, as part of Liberty, the skills and commitment of the management and workforce there would restore the plant’s fortunes, and this is now being borne out by their increasing success. It’s really encouraging to see a great British engineering company, with a long heritage, not only come back from such difficulty but prosper and go from strength to strength.”

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill MP also welcomed news of the contract. He said: “This truly is fantastic news for Liberty Steel and the entire workforce, who have put so much effort into making the business viable. Sanjeev Gupta and the GFG alliance made a bold investment in Hartlepool at a time when the Steel Industry was in rapid decline and their vision and confidence is clearly now bearing fruit. It’s not only good for Hartlepool jobs and the local economy, it puts Hartlepool on the map both as an emerging centre of excellence for a resurgent steel industry and as a place for business to invest in.’