This area sits on top of vast reserves of sand that is the perfect size, shape, strength and purity for use in “fracking,” or hydraulic fracturing, the underground drilling process for natural gas and oil. And the area’s new corporate citizens mean to get that sand to the drillers ASAP.
Income, Tax Base Boost
Three companies – CARBO Ceramics, Completion Industrial Minerals and Panther Creek Sand – are now in the area. Their combined investments in plant and transport facilities will be more than $161 million during the first seven years of operation, including $86 million in the first 18 months. New jobs should total more than 600 in the first year, generating around $33 million in new payroll.
Business Requires Buildout
Marshfield and Wood County knew that some infrastructure improvements needed to be implemented quickly in order to handle the frac sand companies. Cooperation between the city, county and state governments has greatly accelerated that process, says Jason Angell, director of planning and economic development.
“When we’re talking about jobs being created, along with existing businesses being supported by a major new industry like this, the faster the better,” says Angell of the permitting processes.
Infrastructure Needs Met
A major artery, U.S. Highway 10, connects the area to I-39, which will allow for greater truck and transport access. In addition, the city has funded a rail line expansion into the Yellowstone Industrial Park, and Marshfield Utilities has added a new, $30 million generator that can produce 27.5 million kilowatt hours annually to ensure that the area’s electrical supply, already the cheapest in the state, can continue to operate smoothly during peak energy hours.
“The Highway 10 work was going ahead before all this began, but having a short, fast route was a definite plus for these companies,” Angell says. “And having Marshfield Utilities be able to beef up their services to support an industry that is a heavy user of electricity was a major accomplishment. If they had not responded as rapidly as they did, who knows where we would be?”
Sand Extraction Industry Has Multiple Players
All of this effort is good news to the companies that make up the sand-fracking core, each of which has a unique role in the process. CARBO Ceramics is building a resin-coating facility that can handle up to 600 million pounds annually, and will have that plant online by late 2012. Completion Industrial Minerals, which holds reserves of the sand, is currently building out its processing and distribution infrastructure to meet the needs of oil and gas companies that operate the fracking wells. And Panther Creek, which has a similar operation, is already up and running.
“All the companies have been great to work with, and they are very open with us about their needs,” Angell says. “Now we are working together as a community to see how we can maximize this success, and grow our other industries as well.”
Find out more on other industries in Marshfield, WI.