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Drilling Fluids Company Opens $2 Million Facility

Texas corporation expands its operations with Benwood tanks

June 8, 2012
By SCOTT McCLOSKEY Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

BENWOOD - The North Benwood Industrial Park offers a great "central" location for a new $2 million drilling fluids facility, the company's president of U.S. operations said.

Representatives with AES Drilling Fluids LLC, based in Houston, Texas, met with city and state officials for a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday at the newly built facility. Joining the ceremony were state Senate President Jeff Kessler and Delegate Mike Ferro, both D-Marshall.

Jim Sherman, president of U.S. operations for AES Drilling Fluids, said the industrial park is a great fit for the new drilling fluids plant.

Article Photos

Photo by Scott McCloskey
Benwood Police Chief Frank Longwell, left, and Jim Sherman, president of U.S. operations for AES Drilling Fluids, talk prior to a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday for the new AES facility located in the North Benwood Industrial Park.

"We're glad to be here. This is a good facility; it fits what we needed," said Sherman. "It's a good location for the potential in the Utica Shale, where we're trying to get some work from some of the local customers. We needed a nice size warehouse for some expansion, and this is just centrally located for us. We're lucky to be here, and we're lucky to find it."

Sherman said AES needed a site that is "used to a little bit of industry."

"It's more about storage and blending than it is anything else with us. ... We use a lot of synthetic oils," he added.

The new facility makes a synthetic oil-based drilling fluid, or "drilling mud," which is used in the natural gas industry's drilling process. The plant is now fully operational and employs about 17 full-time workers, according to Russell Marks, operations manager for AES.

Marks said the facility rents drilling fluid to customers like Chesapeake Energy, who use it during the drilling and fracking process. The fluid is eventually transported back to the plant, where it is "reconditioned" and used again. It aides workers in removing the cuttings from wells, according to Marks.

The AES facility is built on a 180- by 120-foot concrete pad and holds about 20 large tanks that provide nearly 9,000 barrels worth of storage. In addition, the facility has a couple of 3,000-barrel tanks, including several tanks that store calcium chloride water.

Benwood Police Chief Frank Longwell, who also co-chairs the community's economic development committee along with Mayor Ed Kuca, said he is excited about AES locating in the city's industrial park and hopes it will continue to create spinoff economic growth for the community.

"They've done a tremendous job on locating here. ... They made the property look very presentable," said Longwell. "It will be more revenue for the city, more jobs for the Ohio Valley and, hopefully, this will have more spinoff.

"Benwood is certainly taking full advantage of the drilling, natural gas and oil boom, and we're just glad we will be able to capitalize on this particular business. ... It fits like a glove for the city," said Longwell. "We will continue to work with other development opportunities to move Benwood forward."

Kuca said the community is fortunate to have AES locate there.

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