Adding to the ever-increasing difficulty of keeping up with the players in the global metals and mining sector, it now appears that more U.S. steelmaking assets will soon become the property of a pair of Russian companies.

In a three-handed deal, privately held Russian steelmaker Evraz Group SA will pay about $4 billion to Sweden's SSAB Svenskt Stal AB for a portion of Ipsco's North American tubular business. SSAB paid $7.7 billion last year for all of Ipsco. Evraz, SSAB, North Carolina-based Nucor (NYSE: NUE), and Brazil's Gerdau (NYSE: GGB) were all involved in a tussle last year to buy Ipsco, a contest the Swedish company ultimately won.

Once the Evraz-SSAB transaction is completed, Evraz will sell a portion of its newly acquired assets to OAO TMK, a Russian pipe producer, leaving Evraz with a net outlay of roughly $2.3 billion. The Ipsco facilities it keeps will add to Ervaz's fast-growing string of U.S. assets. Evraz will soon be positioned to supply oilfield tubular goods to such places as China, the U.S., Canada, and of course, Russia.

In drawing investment implications from this chain of events, I think it's appropriate to note that the tubular goods group has long been an ideal way to play strength in the energy sector. After careful research, Fools might consider nibbling cautiously at the international companies mentioned above.

Beyond that, and despite the difficult market conditions of the past several months, I'd offer that U.S. Steel (NYSE: X), which paid $2.1 billion last year for Texas-based tubular goods producer Lone Star Technologies, appears to represent a somewhat simpler vehicle for participation by U.S. investors in a solid trend.

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith once showed up for a steel mill tour in white slacks, and left in gray ones. He doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned but welcomes your questions or comments. The Fool has a steel-strong disclosure policy.