PLCA Market Remains Strong

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | January 2010 Vol. 65 No. 1
Don W. Thorn, 2009 PLCA president.

In spite of a worldwide recession that has affected most areas of construction, members of the Pipe Line Contractors Association (PLCA) were busy throughout 2009, said association President Don W. Thorn.

"The pipeline industry has not had a recession," said Thorn. "The year 2008 was a record setting year for the association and its members, and the work volume in 2009 has been slightly down with some projects pushed back because of financing and commodity price markets, but in perspective, 2009 has been a very good year."

Thorn said member contractors were involved in major mega projects such as the Trans Canada Keystone Project, completion of the Rockies Express gas pipeline from Wyoming to eastern Ohio, expansion of Enbridge pipelines to move Canadian oil sand crude to the United States, and numerous other projects throughout the country.

Thorn said the PLCA remains in a strong position with membership growth increasing by 25 percent in the past two years.

A primary responsibility of the association is negotiating and administering contracts with the four unions involved in pipeline construction: the Laborers International Union of North America, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting industries in the U.S. and Canada AFL CIO, and the International Union of Operating Engineers.

Safety
"Throughout the year, we have continued our safety initiative to complete projects without incurring injuries," said Thorn. PLCA educational programs, available to all members, include training videos covering all aspects of pipeline construction, from site preparation, laying pipe, tie-ins to surface restoration. The association publishes a weekly newsletter and labor newsletter to keep members up to date about industry and labor matters.

The pipeline industry's prospects for 2010 appear good, said Thorn.

"Drilling and expansion of system infrastructures continues to move gas to markets," he said. "The Ruby Pipeline from Wyoming to Oregon is under construction and expansion of the Florida Gas pipeline system will be two of the major projects in 2010. In addition, gathering systems continue to expand, and many gas/shale projects are under way, being planned or are proposed in Louisiana, Texas, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and southern New York. We are cautiously optimistic that our industry will avoid a serious downturn."

Thorn is president of Welded Construction LP, Perrysburg, OH. His term as PLCA president will end in February 2010 after a new president is elected at the association's annual meeting.