BOSSIER CITY, La. (AP) ¿ Northwest Pipe Co., which manufactures welded pipe, said Thursday that it will reopen its Bossier City plant that has been idle for three years.

A retooled 140,000-square-foot plant, expected to open in 2010, will create up to 120 jobs at an average salary of $39,000, plus benefits, according to company and state economic development officials.

The company will use the plant to manufacture tubular products and pipe for the petroleum industry.

Although the plant was closed three years ago because of changing market conditions, Northwest said Thursday that the Bossier City site gives it a chance now to strengthen its competitive presence in the energy business.

"Bossier City is ideally located to serve our energy pipe customers," said Northwest Pipe chief executive Brian Dunham. "Based upon their market demand, we hope to recommission the plant by mid-2010. We are committed to the energy pipe business, and we believe in Bossier City as an excellent manufacturing location."

After crashing to near $30 per barrel last year, oil prices have rebounded somewhat from 2008 record highs near $150 per barrel.

The company intends to apply for two state economic incentive programs: industrial tax exemptions and the state's quality jobs program, the administration of Gov. Bobby Jindal said. A potential value of those two programs could not be determined Thursday.

Northwest Pipe plans to partially finance the project through $10 million in Recovery Zone Facility bonds issued by the Caddo-Bossier Port Commission. Those tax-exempt bonds for business development were created by the national federal stimulus law.

The first phase of the project, which will begin production, includes relocating an existing modernized mill from Northwest Pipe's plant in Portland, Ore. That will involve 50 employees. A second phase that will add additional processing and inspection, will create another 70 jobs, the company said.

Northwest Pipe did not reveal how much the revival is costing, but said it was the largest internal investment in its history.

The Vancouver, Wash.-based company currently has 10 plants in the United States and Mexico.
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