By TOM GIAMBRONI
WELLSVILLE, Ohio - An Oklahoma-based company that moved into the Columbiana County Port Authority's industrial park to take advantage of the oil and gas boom under way in the region has officially opened for business.
Anchor Drilling Fluids USA Inc., the nation's largest drilling fluids company, announced it is officially up and running at the port authority's industrial park located in Wellsville along the Ohio River.
"This is an exciting day for Anchor and the state of Ohio. After extensive groundwork with local and state officials and significant capital investment, we are proud to now be operational and serving our industry's customers, hiring Ohio residents and contributing to local and state tax revenues," said Anchor CEO Bob West, in a news release.
Earlier in the year officials announced that Anchor had joined with Cimbar Performance Minerals, another port authority tenant, on a $10.3 million project to produce drilling fluids from the industrial park for use in the shale gas industry.
Cimbar, a minerals-processing company, purchased 10 acres at the industrial park last year for $2 million to build a mineral processing plant. Some of the minerals are used in drilling fluid and oil-field applications.
Anchor's 12,000-square-foot plant will occupy 5 acres and eventually employ 10 to 15 workers at the site, along with another 20 to 30 field engineers at well sites. Cimbar currently employs more than 30 workers.
According to the Anchor news release, Cimbar's adjoining plant will process barite, "a naturally occurring, nontoxic mineral that increases the density of drilling fluids. The plant is the only barite processing operation in the northeast U.S. and provides a secure, strategically located supply for future drilling operations in the Utica and Marcellus shales"
The joint venture is to result production of synthetic drilling fluid, or drilling mud. The mud serves as a lubricant for drilling boreholes into shale gas deposits, but it is not part of the hydraulic fracturing process used to extract the natural gas.
"The Utica shale reportedly has recoverable reserves of over 940 million barrels of oil and 38 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Development of this U.S. energy resource will significantly contribute to long-term economic growth and job creation in Ohio and the region," said Anchor President Phil West.