MACKEYVILLE - Despite the recent spate of rainy weather, the major, $40 million regional headquarters of Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations remains on schedule for a Jan. 1 opening.
Officials say between 200 and 250 people will man the facility when opened, with an "upramp" of up to 400 people once in full operation.
Clinton County Economic Partnership President and CEO Mike Flanagan and Project Manager Jeffrey Feret from lead contractor A. Martini and Co., Verona, gave a small gathering an update on the project on the 37-acre parcel that will house the site in the Lamar Township Business Park.
From left, Project Manager Jeffrey Feret and Project Superintendent Walter Oglenski of A. Martini and Co., and Clinton County Economic Partnership President and CEO Mike Flanagan look at the plans for the office building for Baker Hughes.
Both spoke of the great cooperation between the company, and local and state officials to get the project up and running in a short timeframe.
"It's hard to believe that one year ago today we would be shin deep in corn growing," said Flanagan on the employees' parking lot while heavy machinery continued building the complex on Thursday.
Flanagan noted he first met with officials from Baker Hughes in late August last year, and met two weeks later with officials from Lamar Township, Clinton County and the state.
"Eight weeks later, Baker Hughes bought 37 acres over two lots, and they started building in late November," he said. "They've had good weather for only part of the time, but they are still on schedule. Baker Hughes is top-notch and we are proud to have them in our community.
"This is a nice project... a big project," Flanagan continued. "It was a 100-day sprint, and it ended up working out really well."
Feret gave the gathering an overview of the operations, one Baker Hughes takes over on Jan. 1.
The trucks, he said, will first go past a guard house, then past a fueling station with four bays of both on- and off-road diesel fuel avaialble. Then they will pass a truck wash facility with one automatic and two manual bays.
Originally, Feret said, that washing facility ws to have both dirty and clean water, but was changed to use recycled water after it was learned the large amount of water that was needed. The water will be cleaned and returned inside the building.
The rainy weather has caused a halt on the construction of that building until Wednesday.
"We need about a week's worth of dry weather to get that building up," Feret said.
The trucks would then pass through the "acid building," which will house hydrochloric acid with a containment area, along with a tote and drum facility to hold both dry and wet chemicals needed in the fracking process.
Then comes the "cement building," which will house 30 silos of dry cement mix that drilling companies need to close their wells off.
Also in that area will be areas to house pumps needed in the drilling process and tanks to hold other chemicals needed in the drilling process like nitrogen.
Finally, for the trucks, there will be a vehicle maintenance facility with 16 bays to service trucks, like chicking fluids and tire pressure, but no "heavy maintenance."
That area will also house storage for drill bits and "very expensive pumps" needed on the drilling process.
"They are very expensive (about $250,000 a piece) and only last about two or three months," Feret said.
The centerpiece of the complex will be a 25,000-square-foot, one-story office building, with state-of-the-art labs and "very high end fixtures" like mahogoney doors and ceramic tiles," he said.
The project manager noted the sub-surface of the property was fairly difficult, with his company eventually installing 74 "micro-casons" to fill in the empty spaces around the bedrock.
"We started on Nov. 28 (last year). It has been 200 calendar days, 70 of those days it has been raining or snowing... We are still on schedule," Feret said. "If we get good weather, we work 12 hours a day and on weekends. We have one year to get this facility done."
He said five of the buildings are now complete, with the "tote and drum" building 95 percent complete, the acid building 65 percent finished, the fuel island 70 percent done and the office building 10 percent complete.
"We have a great bunch of sub-contractors, with a lot of local sub-contractors," Feret said. "Schedule-wise, we're OK. I just don't want it to rain."
He noted he has built facilities in several states and in Russia.
"I have never been to a community that has been more helpful and more open, both on the state and local levels," Feret said. "It's been a great project. Many of the workers here rent apartments and houses here and eat at the local restaurants. Everyone here has accepted us with open arms."
Flanagan noted Baker Hughes is an "anchor" company for the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry, and he expects more to follow.
He told the gathering there are one, possibly two, businesses looking to open in the four remaining parcels in the business park.
"It's just a matter of time when they will come," he said. "When you get an anchor business others will follow."
Flanagan said the Partnership may sub-divide parcels five and six - at 18 and 23.7 acres respectively - into smaller areas for other businesses. The other two, at around 10 acres each, will likely be kept at that size, he said.
Further, Flanagan said, bids should go out this August for the nearby intersection of Route 220 and Fairground Road on the side of the Central Pennsylvania Auto Auction, with the business park side possibly being bid out in August of 2013.
The Partnership purchased the business park near Route 220 and the Lock Haven Exit of Interstate 80 for $3 million, and still owes about $1.5 million for three loans, he said. Two of those loans can be paid off as the land is sold, while the Partnership is currently just paying interest on the one from M&T Bank.
He also touted that area as a Keystone Opportunity Zone, making it virtually tax-free until 2020, with a possibility of an extension on the current empty lots.
The park also has its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, which saves time for companies wishing to locate there. That permit, Flanagan said, expires this November, and the Partnership is currently in negotiations with state and local agencies to possibly renew the permit for five more years.
The Baker Hughes project will serve as a base for six pumping service truck fleets that serve clients in a 60-mile radius.
It has more than 53,000 employees in 80 countries.