IPSCO Inc. announced an investment of $3.5 million to set up a research unit dedicated to accelerating development of the company's large diameter capability for energy transmission lines. In addition, research work will take place related to other energy tubular products such as casing and tubing for frontier environments and other advanced energy sector steel products. The Frontier Research Unit is expected to maintain a $3 million annual operating budget.

“It is our goal to remain at the forefront of technology to enable the company to supply the complex specialty grade steel and pipe required for large pipeline projects, with a specific emphasis on Northern environments such as the proposed MacKenzie Valley,” said Joe Russo, senior vice president and chief technical officer.

The Frontier Pipe Research Unit will be located at IPSCO's Research and Development Facility in Regina, Saskatchewan to take advantage of the company's existing research resources and its large diameter pipe forming mills. The unit will be led by Dr. Laurie Collins, an expert in alloy design, property assessment and steel and line pipe processing.

Record Year

In other IPSCO news, the company reported record sales of $2.5 billion in 2004, more than double the $1.3 billion reported in 2003. Net income was $439 million, vs. $17 million the previous year.

IPSCO's record revenue resulted from higher prices, higher volumes of steel mill and tubular product shipments, and raw material surcharges. Higher sales of energy tubular products resulted from increased drilling activity in Canada and the United States, and the completion of two large diameter projects, Cheyenne Plains and the East Texas Expansion. The stronger Canadian dollar also increased reported sales by about $57.5 million.