BENWOOD, W.Va. - A new, $2 million "drilling mud" facility has located in Benwood, bringing further hope of an economic rebirth to the small city.
Fluids Management, a Division of AES Drilling Fluids LLC of Houston, Texas, plans to open the multi-million dollar plant in Benwood's Industrial Park before February. More than a dozen large steel containers that will hold the drilling fluids currently are located on a concrete pad several feet thick as construction of the plant continues.
Benwood is located along the Ohio River in Marshall County, W.Va., on the city of Wheeling's southern border.
NEW FACILITY – Fluids Management, a Division of Houston, Texas-based AES Drilling Fluids LLC, is set to open a new facility at Benwood’s Industrial Park by February. Benwood Economic Development Committee Co-Chairs Frank Longwell and Mayor Ed Kuca are pictured looking over the new site. - Scott McCloskey
Fluids Management will serve as a drilling fluid vendor for the region's burgeoning natural gas drilling industry. Drilling fluid, also called drilling mud, is used to aid in the drilling of boreholes into the Marcellus and Utica shales.
The new facility, which is initially expected to create between 12 to15 full-time jobs for local residents, makes a synthetic oil-based drilling fluid called ABS-40 that is used in the drilling process, said Russell Marks, operations manager for Fluids Management.
"We basically rent the fluid to the customer ... whether it's Chevron, Chesapeake or whomever, and they use it to drill the well," Marks said. After the hole is bored, Marks said the drilling fluid is returned to the plant, where it will be "reconditioned" and used again.
"The drilling fluid helps you removes the cuttings from the well ... and (it also helps) run casings and complete the well," Marks said.
He did note that Fluids Management has nothing to do with the hydraulic fracturing process used to extract the natural gas.
The new facility, located along the Ohio River, sits on a 180-by-120-foot concrete pad and is located just south of Automatic Recycling. When complete, it will hold about 20 large tanks that provide nearly 9,000 barrels of drilling fluid storage.
Marks said the company also will have several tanks to store calcium chloride water.
Locating in Benwood made sense for the company, he added.
"We can service our southwestern Pennsylvania customers, our West Virginia customers and southeast Ohio customers ... the logistics (were) good for us," he said.
Fluids Management has a regional office in Canonsburg, Pa.
The five-year deal with Fluids Management also will work out well for Benwood. City Economic Development Committee Co-Chair and Police Chief Frank Longwell said he is hopeful the project, which was a joint venture between the development committee and Mull Industries, is another step toward what he called the "rebirth" of the city and also the CSX rail yard.
Longwell also said he believes the project will lead to more growth for the industrial park.
"It's revenue and jobs ... that's why Benwood is doing well," Longwell said while touring the new facility and surrounding property. The Marcellus shale is "like a rebirth of our industry here. We feel that we have the real estate and transportation assets, which is a big thing."
"We're happy that all of this activity is going on ... It's definitely been a boost to the CSX yard traffic, as two years ago the rail yard was vacant," he said.
Longwell said with new businesses such as Fluids Management transporting freight and supplies into the industrial park, it's "breathing new life" into the rail yard.
"We look for a lot of other things to happen," he said.
Mayor Ed Kuca said he is just happy about the creation of more local jobs in Benwood that will provide good pay and benefits. "It's jobs you can actually raise a family on ... and we're excited to see them come to Benwood."