From The State Journal, Published March 10, 2017 and was written by Linda Harris
Bidell Gas Compression sees its decision to base U.S. operations in Weirton as a “long-term” opportunity, President Sean Ulmer said March 10.
Bidell, a subsidiary of Canadian company Total Energy Services, is repurposing a 100,000-square-foot machine shop that had formerly been owned but not used by ArcelorMittal and will manufacture, sell, lease and service natural gas and compression equipment from it.
Ulmer said crews have already begun preparing the shop, upgrading utilities, internet and wiring as well as re-certifying cranes and installing new ones. He said Bidell is making a multi-million-dollar investment in the project, which he expects to have up-and-running by the end of May. The company will initially employ 60, but Ulmer hopes to beef the workforce up to about 100 people by the end of 2018.
“We looked at a number of shops throughout the Tri-State area, probably 40 or 50 shops,” he said. “We needed three things — a shop that could handle the equipment we’re going to build, a ready work force and a ‘willing and able’ government to work with us.”
Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher applauded Bidell’s decision and said the Northern Panhandle is “on the cusp of dramatically better times, not because of steel but because of something nobody even contemplated 10 or 15 years ago.”
“The sky’s the limit,” Thrasher said, pointing out the panhandle sits on top of “the largest shale gas reserves in the world.”
“Shame on us if we don’t take advantage of it,” he said, adding they’re working with Pennsylvania and Ohio government leaders to maximize the economic impact from shale gas development, including spillover opportunities from Shell’s ethane cracker planned for nearby Monaca, Pa.
Economic Development Director David Warner called it a “fantastic opportunity” to repurpose property that had been underutilized for years.
“I really think this will be the first step in further development of ArcelorMittal’s (excess) property,” he said. “It really is a big announcement.”
Ulmer credits support the company received from the Commerce Department, Hancock County commissioner’s office and Weirton officials, saying without their “dedication, patience and creative ideas throughout this process, we would not have been able to make this happen.”
The West Virginia Development Office, along with the West Virginia Economic Development Authority, worked with the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle to purchase the property from Mingo Junction Steelworks LLC. According to the Department of Commerce, additional funding and services to support Bidell’s employee training will be provided through the Governor’s Guaranteed Work Force Program.
Total Energy Services has operating divisions and wholly-owned subsidiaries that include contract dilling services, rental and transportation services and the fabrication, sale, rental and servicing of new and used equipment both for oil and gas processing, according to a news release from the Department of Commerce.
The Hancock County Commission, City of Weirton, United States Environmental Protection Agency and Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Regional Planning Commission also provided financial and technical support to bring Bidell to the Northern Panhandle.