A Louisiana-based fracking company is coming to Monessen, potentially providing as many as 200 new local jobs.
Mayor Mary Jo Smith on Sunday confirmed the imminent arrival of Green Field Energy Services, which will occupy a 70,000-square-foot building that formerly housed Maronda Integrated Systems Inc. on riverfront property behind Donner Avenue.
The site will soon become headquarters for Green Field, which offers environmental-friendly technology by using gas-powered turbines instead of diesel engines to pump in fracking fluid during the natural gas drilling process.
The building’s owner, Doug Farnham, has negotiated a five-year lease with Green Field with options for future usage after he, Smith and state Rep. Ted Harhai, D-Monessen worked with company representatives to finalize the deal.
According to Smith, the building has been empty for more than a year, after Maronda ceased its operations in March 2012.
“They wanted a good place with access to main arteries and (State Route) 906 to (Interstate) 70 is ideal for them,” Harhai said. “I made a commitment on behalf of the state to do whatever we could for them. … We always felt pretty confident in landing them, but you never know until the papers get signed. This is just another step in bringing jobs back to the Valley.”
The company has partnered with Pittsburgh-based natural gas production company EQT and will travel to sites around western Pennsylvania, as well as West Virginia and Ohio.
“We have all the patents. We’re the only ones in the world doing it this way,” said Andrew Ward, marketing director for Green Field. “That’s our key, our ‘secret sauce’ if you will. Most of the engines used for fracking are diesel. If you have natural gas on site for fuel options, it’s cleaner burning and 85 percent of fuel costs are reduced.”
Ward said Green Field will start moving in next month and plans to conduct an open house for the public sometime in August.
“Whenever you go into a new area, you can’t do things remotely from Louisiana,” Ward said.
“We decided it was time to make the move and created a new district. Monessen seems like a great place to lay down some roots.
“It’s not only going to be a dispatching center and provide day-to-day operations. but a place where all of our equipment and all of our workers can have a home.”
Ward said the building will provide everything from offices and a small conference room to a storage warehouse to loading and wash bays for heavy equipment.
Ward envisions a potential for approximately 200 new jobs in the next few years.
“I’m sure it’s going to be a large percentage of new hires, “ he said. “We can’t take all of our guys and place them up in Pennsylvania.
“A typical fracturing crew is about 100 guys, but it takes a big family to get the work done because you have guys running in shifts. A lot of cooks are needed to stir the broth.”
Ward said the potential for even more uses at the facility include increased maintenance, labs for testing and even sales.
Harhai said the potential exists for leasing a larger building on the property, also owned by Farnham.
Smith not only lauded the potential job creation, but what she called “ancillary” business, as well as the city’s annual $52 per worker local services tax, which was adopted in December 2007.
Smith said she anticipates CDL truck drivers to be a key hiring target.
“The building will be occupied and people will be using gas for their vehicles, going to lunch… all the good things that happen when you get more people in your town,” she said.
“They are going to bring up 50-something people and 26 of them will move here to get everything set up, so they’ll all be looking for houses in our area.”
Ward said he anticipates 75 to 100 new hires within the first year of operations – and that those are jobs that will last.
“I know the way our company is and they’re smart about location, location, location, and Monessen is our new hub,” Ward said. “I see this for a long time – decades. With natural gas drilling and horizontal fracturing, this is something we can pursue and reap the benefits of for a good 20 to 30 years.”