A company that provides drilling mud, pipe and fracking tanks to support natural gas operations in the Upper Ohio Valley will soon relocate its field office from Buckhannon, W.Va., to Fox Commerce Park near St. Clairsville.
An affiliate of Chesapeake Energy, Great Plains Oilfield Rental is already providing services to Chesapeake drilling sites and staging areas throughout northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio. The oilfield services company - which opened its Buckhannon office just last year - is moving to St. Clairsville to be closer to the action in the wet gas window. Natural gas industry leaders consider the area prolific because of the abundance of natural gas liquids, namely ethane, butane, propane and pentane.
"Currently, there is a great deal of focus on developing the highest-return, liquids-rich shale plays such as West Virginia's Northern Panhandle, and this new location assists in facilitating this objective," said Jerry Banta, northeast region manager for Great Plains. "In order to be competitive and maintain continuity, we must be located in close proximity to the activity in the play."
Banta said the company now has 120 employees in Buckhannon, "most of whom will be offered the opportunity to transfer to St. Clairsville." He said those who do not transfer will be eligible for a severance.
Construction workers are now erecting the Chesapeake buildings at Fox Commerce Park, near the new Belmont County Fairgrounds, with hopes of soon opening them. Because the buildings will be located at the front of the industrial park - across from the FedEx structure at Fox Commerce - they should be visible to those driving along Interstate 70.
Belmont County commissioners voted last year to allow the Fox Commerce land to be sold from the the county's Community Improvement Corp. to Chesapeake. The company paid the county $300,000 for roughly 30 acres of land at the park.
Chesapeake announced plans earlier this year to shift much of the company's focus from drilling in the methane-dominated dry gas regions in much of Pennsylvania to drilling in the wet gas. This is due to relatively low natural gas prices compared to the price commanded by natural gas liquids.
As the Belmont County office complex takes shape, Chesapeake also continues to lease land for drilling throughout eastern Ohio. The company has already drilled several wells throughout the state, with one Harrison County well yielding 1.52 billion cubic feet of natural gas and 13,472 barrels of oil in 2011, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Great Plains states on its website, "Our expertise lies in the movement of fresh water and flowback fluids. The end result is water delivered at one-third the cost and at a fraction of the time required to move it by truck." The company states its workers can transfer water for drilling and fracking from a particular source to the gas well site at a rate greater than 130 barrels per minute.