By Grace Wyler
A new steel pipe mill has begun to take shape here as V&M Star starts the initial phase of construction on its $650 million expansion project.
V&M Two, the sister company in charge of the expansion, recently awarded the construction contract for the project to Aker Construction, based in Canonsburg, Pa.
Aker Construction, a subsidiary of the global engineering and construction firm Aker Solutions, provides direct-hire union construction services and construction management services to the industrial sector, according to the company’s website.
The contract to supply materials and erect V&M’s new mill began last week. The value of the contract was not disclosed.
“Aker Solutions is very pleased with the award of this contract,” Steve Harker, vice president and general manager of Aker Construction, said in a news release. “We have exceptional construction experience across a range of industries in the US and the award of this latest project is a reflection of the strong capability we possess in the team.”
So far, there has been “significant progress” on the massive foundation of the new steel mill, V&M said in a news release. Other first steps have included developing and improving entry roads and ramps in preparation for equipment that has started to arrive for the new hot-rolling seamless pipe mill.
That equipment will eventually be used to produce specialty pipe and tube products for V&M’s customers in the oil and gas industry. The decision to locate the new mill next to V&M’s existing operations in Youngstown was based largely on a growing demand from natural gas companies exploring the nearby Marcellus Shale.
“Construction on the pipe mill is well under way and it’s been really exciting to see,” said Walt Good, vice president for economic development for the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber. “This is one of the largest construction projects under way in the United States right now — we are using that as leverage with other companies that are interested in pursuing opportunities.”
Construction on the new mill is expected to be completed sometime in the fourth quarter of 2011. The company hopes to begin production by the first quarter of 2012.
Since the official ground-breaking in June, workers have logged 72,000 hours of labor on the new mill. More than 19,000 cubic yards of earth have been excavated, 1,500 cubic yards of fill have been used, 1,100 cubic yards of concrete have been poured and 109 tons of rebar have been installed at the project site.
Overall, the expansion will create 400 construction jobs and 350 full-time positions. Hiring for the full-time jobs will begin in the first quarter of next year.
Throughout the year, V&M has partnered with the city of Youngstown and community organizations such as Lien Forward Ohio and the Brier Hill Neighborhood Group to complete the project and prepare land for the expansion. The city’s board of control approved spending $450,000 Thursday to purchase eight acres of land that the company needs for the project. The land is the former Sharp Lumber site on South State Street in Girard, owned by MMTK Family LLC, the parent company of Coronado Steel.
V&M signed a reimbursement agreement with the Youngstown Board of Control to pay the cost of buying the property.