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Liberty targets oil & gas sector as it completes acquisition
Sanjeev Gupta’s metals and industrials group, Liberty House, has set its sights on a key role in the global oil and gas pipeline sector after completing the purchase of two pipe mills at Hartlepool from Tata Steel UK and appointing top steel pipe specialist, James Annal, to head its new pipe and tube division.
Liberty, which is part of the GFG Alliance, announced that it intends to rebuild the previously struggling operation at Hartlepool – adding around 100 new jobs to the existing 140-strong workforce – and to position the Group in the vanguard of the 50m tonne a year global oil and gas pipe market.
The Group aims to supply the 84”and 42” longitudinal submerged arc welded (LSAW) mills at Hartlepool with steel from its plate facilities in Scotland where it plans to develop capability to make heavy duty API grade steel used in the energy industry. The pipe mills have a combined capacity of 250,000 tonnes a year.
James Annal, who starts as chief executive of Liberty Pipe is one of the most prominent and experienced leaders in the global steel industry’s pipe sector, having been chief executive of tubular products across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia for ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel company.
Following completion of the Hartlepool acquisition Sanjeev Gupta, executive chairman of the Liberty House Group said: “This is an important first step in our ambition to become a world leader in energy pipe and we are already looking at plants in other countries. The acquisition of this high-calibre business and its skilled workforce gives us the basis to upgrade the liquid steel production facilities we’re buying at Whyalla, South Australia and our plate mills at Dalzell and Clydebridge in Scotland to make high-value-added API grade plates that can be rolled at Hartlepool to supply pipeline projects worldwide. This fully-integrated value chain will make us a world leader in this field and help showcase Britain’s engineering prowess in supplying a world-class highly-engineered product.”
Commenting on the new chief executive’s appointment he added: “As we embark on this exciting journey, we’re proud to welcome James Annal and feel confident his vast experience in this specific field will be invaluable in the success of this business.”
Mr Annal said: “I am very familiar with the pipe business in Hartlepool and am really looking forward to working with the team there to make it a pivotal part of an exciting new global business.”
The addition of the Hartlepool pipe mills brings Liberty’s UK workforce to nearly 5,500 people spread across more than 30 sites, making it one of Britain’s largest industrial employers. Under the planned agreement, the neighbouring 20-inch mill, which makes high-frequency induction (HFI) pipe, would remain in the ownership of Tata Steel UK as it is linked to the company’s strip products business centred on steelmaking in Port Talbot.
Liberty’s acquisition in Hartlepool has been warmly welcomed. Business Minister Lord Prior said: “The completion of Liberty’s acquisition of Tata Steel’s two pipe mills will be welcome news to the workforce and safeguarding of jobs in Hartlepool. This investment further demonstrates confidence in the UK economy and in our Industrial Strategy.”
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen added: “This is fantastic news and a positive move that secures hundreds of jobs and ensures the future of the steel pipe mills in Hartlepool. Liberty is a significant global company and this investment is another vote of confidence in the Tees Valley. as Mayor, this is something I will fully support in every way possible.”