Port OKs leases for shale firms

EAST LIVERPOOL – The Columbiana County Port Authority approved two temporary leases this week related to the growing oil and natural gas boom under way in the region.

The first lease is with Anchor Drilling Fluids USA Inc. for an additional acre of property at the Port Authority’s industrial park in Wellsville, where the company is involved in a joint venture with Cimbar Performance Minerals to produce drilling fluids used in the oil and gas fields.

Cimbar purchased 10 acres from the Port Authority to build a mineral processing plant, while Anchor constructed an adjacent plant to use the minerals in producing the drilling fluid.

Port Authority Chief Executive Officer Tracy Drake said Anchor needs the extra space for storage tanks, and the lease will be on a month-to-month basis at $1,250 per month. He said the company may be interested in securing additional acreage left over after the Marathon Petroleum Corp. expansion into the industrial park is completed.

The board also approved leasing 13,000 square feet at the former Louthan plant building in East Liverpool to Southern Automation Inc., which is assisting in the planned expansion of the Ergon Oil Inc. refinery across the Ohio River in nearby Newell, W.Va. Drake said Southern Automation is assisting in the expansion and wants to use the Port Authority-owned Louthan building as a staging area for its equipment and materials. The lease, also on a monthly basis, is $3,250 per month.

In other action at its recent meeting, the board:

– Hired the engineering consulting firm of GT Environmental Inc. of Westerville to determine the extent of any industrial pollution that exists on the former North Star Coal property in East Liverpool. A state grant in the amount of $183,000 has been awarded the Port Authority to fund the environmental assessment and come up with a plan to clean up the property so it can be used again for commercial purposes. A second grant would be sought to fund the cleanup.

– Leased an additional 1,000 square feet at its Louthan building to Employment Development Inc. to expand the county Developmental Disabilities’ sheltered workshop operations.

-Allowed the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to move its sulfur dioxide monitoring station from the former East Elementary School to the Port Authority complex for $50 per month.

In other business, the Port Authority parking lot was blacktopped by West Point Paving without the transaction being run through a board meeting for approval. Drake said Heritage-WTI, which shares the parking lot, helped pay for the resurfacing. The Port Authority’s share came to $14,285.