Anchor celebrates new facility in Wellsville

Laurie Huffman Dix Communications Published:

WELLSVILLE — Anchor Drilling Fluids USA, an Oklahoma-based business that boasts being the largest independent drilling fluids company in the country, recently celebrated at its newest plant in Wellsville, which CEO and co-owner Bob West said was twice as hard to put in than any of the other facilities they have across the U.S.

“But, we got ‘er done,” West told those gathered at the grand opening.

West later stated the reason it was the most difficult of the 25 plants he and his son, Phil West, have built, was due to stricter regulations in the state of Ohio. “We had to go through regulations here that we don’t normally have to deal with, and the real problem was they didn’t understand what we do. Once that happened, things moved quicker,” West said. “Now, we’re ready for business. Ready for invoices.”

David Cunningham, manager of Anchor’s Southern Region, explained the fluid the company produces is used to maintain the character of the well bore, and it can be used in both vertical and horizontal drilling. “We built this plant because there is a source of activity here. Wherever there’s drilling activity for oil and gas in the United States — we’ll be there.”

Don Crane, of the Columbiana County Port Authority, reported the PA extends as far south as the Ohio River. “This part of Port Authority, at the Wellsville Intermodal Facility, is becoming the place to be,” Crane said, “as far as oil refinery work and shipping of oil and materials required for drilling is concerned, which include sand, gravel and limestone.”

The Wellsville Intermodal Facility was completed in August after 10 years of development and an investment of $5.7 million, and Crane indicated it is an area of commerce for a variety of industries, but, he indicated shale drilling is what seems to be taking off the most at the industrial park.

Jason Wilson, director of the Governor’s Office of Appalachia, spoke from the state’s perspective when he said, “We are obviously excited about this announcement. It is another example and another sign of opportunity, job creation, and economic development in the Appalachian Region, of which this facility is a part.”

While Bob West stated the state’s regulations seemed stiff, when questioned on the matter, Wilson said his office has been striving to create rules “that provide the best balance between upholding and still welcoming the industry.”

Anchor Drilling Fluids will hire 15 to 20 employees at the Wellsville plant. It will also expand its employee base out in the field with two workers assigned to each rig. “We have to manage the use of the product at the drill. So, if we have 20 rigs, that’ll be another 40 employees right there,” Bob West reported. “

Trucking is also anticipated to accelerate in the area because Anchor has a lot of products that are necessary to make the drilling fluid shipped in from all over the country. And, more jobs will also open as the grinding of barite, one of the main products used in Anchor’s fluid production, will increase at Cimbar, the company Anchor is partnering with on the five-acre Intermodal Facility.

Anchor, which produces and stores drilling fluid product, opened its doors in Wellsville in October and invited potential clients and media outlets from around the area to a grand opening celebration the following month to help get the word out. Among those present were Sarah Poulton, field representative for Ohio Congressman Bill Johnson, of Ohio’s sixth district; and media representatives from The Alliance Review, The East Liverpool Review, Youngstown’s Channel 27, and Channel 9 of Steubenville.

Anchor did not build a plant to serve the shale drilling in Pennsylvania, which may be another indication the play in Northeastern Ohio is anticipated to be very large and very active. In a statement issued to announce the grand opening of its Wellsville plant, Phil West said, “The Utica Shale reportedly has recoverable reserves of more than 940 million barrels of oil and 38 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The development of this U.S. Energy resource will significantly contribute to long-term economic growth and job creation in Ohio and the region.”

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