NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND — U.S. specialty flexible pipe manufacturer Wellstream Co. of Panama City, Fla., is building a £35 million ($56 million) United Kingdom plant to produce plastic and steel undersea pipe for British North Sea oil and gas fields.
The plant, being constructed at Newcastle upon Tyne, will employ 200, have a capacity of almost 100 miles of pipe annually and is due to begin commercial production by January.
The 250,000-square-foot factory will produce nonbonded pipe of 2-17 inches in diameter in alternate steel, barrier and insulating plastic layers. It will use materials including high density polyethylene, polyvinylidene chloride and nylon.
Wellstream, a division of the Dallas-based Dresser Industries Inc., will start work immediately on a four-year, $200 million contract to supply steel/nylon pipe to Norsk Hydro AS' Troll oil fields in the North Sea.
Processing equipment being installed this month includes two 150-millimeter extrusion lines from Ceeco Machinery.
The composite pipe is manufactured in continuous lengths and the plant, one of the biggest factories ever constructed in northeast England, will be able to spool 36,300 feet at a time directly onto pipe-laying ships moored alongside the plant.
Wellstream was formed as Flexpipe International Inc. in 1983 in response to the growing world market for flexible pipe.
Wellstream now claims to be the world's second biggest producer with a 20 percent share, behind Coflexip Stena Offshore of Paris.
The Dresser division already operates a similar plant at Panama City, with a capacity of 75 miles of flexible pipe annually. It produces pipe with diameters of 2-10 inches.
``Between them, Newcastle and Panama City will be able to meet Wellstream's phase one target of achieving a 30 percent share of the global flexible pipeline market by the turn of the century,'' said Brian Cocksedge, Wellstream sales vice president.