MS Consultants Inc. has landed a contract to design a rail spur in eastern Ohio that will help move oil, natural gas and drilling materials in the Utica and Marcellus shale plays.
The Columbiana County Port Authority recently selected the Columbus-based engineering firm to design the spur at its intermodal facility along the Ohio River in Wellsville, about 5 miles south of East Liverpool. MS Consultants’s fee will be based on the scope of the project, which is still to be determined, said Port Authority CEO Tracy Drake.
What is clear, he told me, is the site needs better rail service to keep pace with the traffic it is seeing from activity related to the shale play. Oil and gas companies Hilcorp Energy Co. and Marathon Petroleum have facilities at the Wellsville site as do several companies that provide materials used in drilling in the shale play.
“We have a pleasant problem here,” Drake said. “We’re running as fast as we can to keep up with this new industry.”
Energy companies have invested about $40 million in facilities in Wellsville over the past two years, he said. He hopes to tap logistics and distribution funds from the state to pay for the rail spur project.