​Tenaris establishes new yard near Estavan, SK

Guillermo Moreno is the president of Tenaris in Canada. The white tags on the ends of each pipe, behind him, are key to the company's business strategy. Image: Brian Zinchuk/Pipeline News

It’s hard to miss the new, very well-lit pipe yard at Bienfait, Sask., especially at night. Just east of Estavan, that’s the new Tenaris Bienfait service centre, which is now in full operation.

Guillermo Moreno is the president of Tenaris in Canada. He visited the new Bienfait site on Dec. 13, touring the facility with Pipeline News.

Tenaris first established itself at Bienfait in 2015 in a partnership with CN Rail, but has now opened its own facility.

Bienfait was chosen due to its proximity to the rail line and operations of Tenaris customers. Those customers, oil companies, use the company’s principal product – oil country tubular goods (OCTG) – the well casing and tubing that makes oil production possible.

About 80 to 90 per cent of the pipe that passes through the Bienfait facility comes from Canada, although a small portion does come from Tenaris’ global network of facilities. Tenaris has a seamless pipe mill in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and a welded pipe mill in Calgary. In Nisku, the company threads premium connections.

Moreno said all the casing coming to Bienfait was made in Canada.

Tenaris is a global company operating in 30 countries, operating in Canada since 1999. It employs about 1,000 people in Canada.

A few months ago the company opened a new Grande Prairie, Alta, service centre which services northwest Alberta and northeast British Columbia. Moreno called it “One of the best pipe yards in the world.”

At Bienfait, construction started about a year ago.

Open facility

Typically pipeyards are affiliated with trucking companies. Those companies often act as “pipe custodians,” storing pipe, often at no cost, with the expectation the oil company will use their trucks to eventually haul the pipe.

Moreno explained the Bienfait service centre is an “open facility.”

“We don’t own trucks. We’re not in the trucking business,” he said. The oil companies decide which trucking firms they want to employ.

“We subcontract different cargoes,” he added.

Tenaris does have heavy duty trailers to shuttle pipe from the railyard to the pipe yard. Specialized forklifts can reach down into rail cars to unload the pipe.

Rig Direct

Tenaris has made its pipe inventory system “smart,” in that every joint of pipe is tracked, in a business model known as Rig Direct. This includes a suite of services including technical consulting, pipe management, and field services.

One end cap protector on each joint of pipe has an RFID (radio frequency identification) tag, and the other end incorporates a 2-D barcode similar to a QR code. Moreno explained they “allow us to know exactly this pipe, where it is produced, dimension, weight, thickness. We keep track of all of this for our clients. We keep track of every single pipe.”

Information is also stencilled on the pipe for when the end cap is removed.

In the yard, that means operators can use a scanner to quickly identify each pipe. When a load is apart from the racks, such as on a truck, they can identify the entire load by RFID with a quick scan.

The technology is applicable for the end user as well using the Tenaris PipeTracer app. As each pipe is precisely measured in the factory, that information can be used instead of using a tape measure in the field.

How did Tenaris get to this point?

Moreno said that in 2014 when the price of oil was high, everything was fantastic. But then the downturn hit. “We had to do something different to help our clients,” he said. “That kind of innovation could bring a lot of savings to our clients,” he said. The result was Rig Direct.

“Every pipe has its own RFID,” he said.

“We are the only ones doing this.”

Tenaris also has dopeless technology with a specific dry coating meaning pipe dope is not applied. This is used offshore, he noted, as the company supplies pipe to the offshore oil industry in Newfoundland.

While trials have been done in Western Canada, cost is a factor.

Domestic supply chain

Moreno commented on the importance of having a domestic supply chain.

“This is the fantastic thing about energy, and where we need to help everybody in Canada to understand and connect the dots, of the benefits of the development of natural resources, how they impact the total Canadian economy. We connect Canada. We have a supply chain from Quebec, all the way to Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia. We take iron ore produced in northern Quebec that is converted into steel in Ontario, then into pipe in either Ontario or Alberta. Then we have dedicated service centres in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and also in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

“Oil and gas means jobs across Canada, not just in the energy industry.”

To support careers for the next generation, Tenaris has supported a program connecting children with STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In September the company donated a half million dollars to the University of Alberta’s “DiscoverE” program, and that will benefit children in Estevan and Bienfait. Thirty children from Grade 2 to Grade 7 can take part.

— Pipeline News