EAST LIVERPOOL - A local industry is cashing in on the growing demand from oil and gas customers in the Utica and Marcellus Shale through an agreement reached with a Delaware corporation.
The agreement between S.H. Bell Co. in the East End and U.S. Silica Holdings calls for the local company to open a silica sand storage facility to which U.S. Silica will ship barges and railroad cars of premium Northern White frac sand from its network of sand plants.
U.S. Silica is the second largest domestic producer of commercial silica, a specialized mineral critical in the oil and gas proppants end market, according to information included in a press release regarding the agreement between the two companies.
A proppant is a material used to keep a hydraulic fracture open after fracing.
"We are excited to have S. H. Bell as a strategic service provider as we further expand our supply chain reach," U.S. Silica CEO Bryan Shinn said in the release.
"This is a prime location for a new facility and is another example of how U.S. Silica is leveraging our flexible logistics to bring high quality products closer to market. We have opened nine strategic frac sand transload facilities this year and continue to move our point of sale closer to the shale basins, providing convenience and flexibility for our customers," Shinn continued.
John Bell, president of S.H. Bell, said in the release, "We are looking forward to our new relationship with U.S. Silica. This is an ideal location for distributing frac sand into the Utica and Marcellus Shale areas. S.H. Bell will continue to be an active participant in the oil and gas industry and a strong supporter of job creation and growth of the local economy."
In a phone conversation Thursday, S.H. Bell manager Rusty Davis said while the company did not build a "new" transload facility as indicated in the press release, it has made some modifications to some of its buildings and equipment to accommodate the agreement with U.S. Silica.
The agreement has also led to the hiring of four additional employees, with the hope of more hiring in the future, Davis said.
Agreeing this is a major contract for the local company, Davis said the agreement with U.S. Silica is its first foray into the Utica and Marcellus Shale market but it is hoped S.H. Bell will realize other expansion possibilities in the growing shale market.
"East Liverpool and the general area are among the most northernmost points of the Ohio River. It gives us an advantage, being in the hub of this (shale) industry," Davis pointed out.
The family-owned S.H. Bell Company has been in business since 1933, providing terminal handling with barge, truck and rail plus storage, processing, packaging and record keeping services for the metals, oil and gas industries.
With headquarters in Pittsburgh, S.H. Bell has other facilities in Newell, W.Va., Chicago and Baltimore.