Businessman says shale boom is just beginning

EAST LIVERPOOL – Although it may seem that communities along the Ohio River are not seeing much impact from the Shale gas and oil boom, at least one business owner believe it’s coming and that Wellsville, especially, will be in the thick of it.

Larry Heck, owner of Pier 48 at the Wellsville Intermodal Park, was the guest speaker at Thursday’s Wellsville Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon, held at Casa De Emanuel in East End here.

Heck told the chamber about the business he and his partners, Jim Pastore, Larry Petrozzi and Carl Frankovitch opened about 18 months ago at the Intermodal Park, saying it has grown during that time due to the gas and oil industry.

“I don’t think people can comprehend what’s going to happen to this area. The drilling has just begun,” Heck said.

Pier 48 began with just a crane and Heck said he has now connected two 10-yard buckets to it to handle the barite being brought in for the oil and gas industry.

Barite is a quartz aggregate used as a lubricant in the drilling process, and Heck said, “It is a very important commodity for drilling.”

A year ago, Heck said he was unloading five barges a month and is now up to between seven and 15 per month, with a project of 40 per month, pointing out, “They haven’t even started drilling. Once the infrastructure is in, it will go wild.”

He also handles steel coils that are used to make pipe for the oil industry, with as many as 45 trucks per day transporting the coils from his facility to the Youngstown area.

Pier 48 started with two employees and now has six, and Heck predicted the industry is “going to grow.”

With that anticipated growth in the demand for both steel and barite, Heck said he is building a conveyor system to handle 800 tons per hour, saying, “If I hit the 500-ton mark, I’ll be doing good.”

Pier 48 is one of several companies located at the Intermodal Park, with others also involved in the gas and oil industry, and Heck said there is talk about $7 billion worth of development across the highway from the facility that will provide the infrastructure needed to support the industry.

“It’s growing, and it’s expanding, and it’s going to keep growing,” Heck predicted.