By TOM GIAMBRONI
EAST LIVERPOOL - Marathon Petroleum Corp.'s planned expansion in Wellsville is one major step closer to becoming a reality following action taken last week by the Columbiana County Port Authority.
The Port Authority board voted to follow through with the sale of 3.6 acres of property to Marathon for $2.4 million, a tentative deal first announced last summer.
The property is located at the Port Authority's riverfront industrial park in Wellsville and next door to Marathon's storage tank and transfer terminal. The 3.6 acres being acquired would be developed into a staging area for trucks delivering oil and natural gas for transfer from Marathon's terminal.
Marathon has already entered into a joint venture with the Harvest Pipeline Co. to develop the staging area/transfer station and upgrade the terminal for the purpose of shipping oil and gas by barge from the Utica shale fields in the region. Harvest is an affiliate of Hilcorp Energy Co., a leading oil and gas producer that has become increasingly active in Ohio's Utica shale play.
When completed by the end of 2013, the Marathon and Harvest facility will be capable of unloading 24,000 barrels per day from trucks, with the terminal able to load up to 50,000 barrels per day into barges bound for refineries.
Port Authority CEO Tracy Drake said besides the obvious benefits of such a major expansion, the sale of the property to Marathon will mean the estimated 200 trucks per day bound for the Marathon terminal will be able to travel directly to the staging area instead of weaving their way through the streets of Wellsville.
Under the terms of the deal, the Port Authority will keep $1.8 million of the $2.4 million, with the village of Wellsville receiving the balance.
The Port Authority also granted Marathon an "engineering study license," which gives the company permission to begin performing the necessary engineering and environmental work on the 3.6 acres. Even though Marathon is now the property owner, Drake said the company preferred permission be granted allowing the company access to the property to perform the necessary engineering studies.
"This is a big corporation and this is how they do things," he said.
In other business at the meeting, the board:
- Reported the Port Authority ended 2012 with a $133,193 balance based on $3.4 million in expenditures.
- Elected a new slate of officers, with Charles Presley named board chairman, Rob Johnson named vice chairman, and Penny Traina named fiscal officer. The chairman is paid $8,400, vice chairman and fiscal officer $7,800, and the other board members $7,200.