FAIRFIELD, Ala., Feb. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- The U. S. Steel Group of USX Corporation (NYSE: X) announced a $46 million modernization project which will enhance product quality and improve productivity and efficiency in the Tubular Products Division at the company's Fairfield Works. The up-grade -- scheduled for completion in second quarter 1999 -- includes improvements at the seamless pipe mill and the continuous bloom caster. The largest portion of the investment project will involve modification of the seamless pipe mill to convert round billets rather than square blooms into the various tubular products manufactured at Fairfield Works. The conversion will include elimination of the press piercing mill and the elongator mill -- both of which process square blooms at the seamless pipe facility -- and installation of a new rotary piercing mill with disks for the round billets. The investment project also will involve conversion of the Fairfield bloom caster to enable production of round billets to source the pipe mill. "U. S. Steel has targeted the tubular products market as a key element in our long-term competitive strategy, and this investment at Fairfield is further evidence of our commitment to remain an industry leader, and to provide world-class tubular products to customers in the oil and gas industries in a cost-effective manner," said Paul J. Wilhelm, president of the U. S. Steel Group. Joseph R. Scherrbaum, general manager of tubular products for U. S. Steel, said the investments at the pipe mill and bloom caster will help meet the increasingly stringent requirements of energy industry customers. "The oil and gas producing industries continue to explore and drill deeper and in ever harsher environments," Scherrbaum said. "That activity requires stronger tubular products with superior internal and surface quality and more uniform dimensional tolerances. "Over the years, U. S. Steel has responded to changing customer needs in the tubular marketplace, and this latest modernization project at Fairfield will help position us to continue to meet or exceed customer requirements into the next century," Scherrbaum said. "The elimination of the press piercing mill and replacement of the elongator with a new rotary piercing mill also will greatly streamline operations and reduce costs at the pipe mill." The conversion project will require an outage of approximately 30 days at the hot end of the seamless pipe facility in second quarter 1999. Scherrbaum said the company is already beginning plans to build sufficient inventory for the pipe mill finishing end, assuring that there will be no disruption in shipments to customers at any time during the modernization. The Fairfield pipe mill produces seamless oil country tubular goods and standard/line pipe in sizes from 4-1/2 inches to 9-7/8ths inches OD. Visit USX Corporation's web site at http://www.usx.com. USX Corporation press releases are available through Company News On-Call by fax, 800-758-5804, ext. 929150, or at http://www.prnewswire.com.
SOURCE U.S. Steel