New Castle News

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May 15, 2014

Infant company growing in local shale market

NEW CASTLE — State officials visiting Lawrence County said they are highly impressed by a new and rapidly growing company.

Vulcan Oilfield Services on Cascade Street is capitalizing on the Marcellus and Utica shale under western Pennsylvania and West Virginia by providing a niche service.

The company tests newly drilled wells to measure how much gas and oil they are producing, according to its 26-year-old founder and owner, Matthew Anderson. His company provides data to the producers “that all gets reported to the state,” he said. “It’s all set up through temporary piping from the wells.”

Anderson started the company June 21 and hired his first employee July 15. By November, he had hired 19 more, and the count is now up to 30 and growing as it nears its first anniversary.

The entrepreneur was pursuing a biology degree from Youngstown State University when he landed a job in the gas field, he said.

“I didn’t know what a well was. I had no idea I’d be doing this.”

He worked out of his truck for Schlumberger, a French-born leading gas and oil company.

After two years, “I didn’t want to work for them anymore.”

Anderson said he knew he had done a good job for Schlumberger and had gained experience and a reputation with the drilling companies, so he ventured out on his own.

He said he started Vulcan with money he had saved.

Vulcan has had contracts with about 10 drilling companies, and currently is working for EQT Corp., which is occupying all its equipment. EQT of Pittsburgh is one of the largest gas and oil producers in Pennsylvania, Anderson said.

Vulcan’s staff is in the 25-year-old range, he said, and annual average wages range from $80,000 to $100,000. Employees are trained on the job.

“A lot of guys we hire have no experience. It’s just mechanical aptitude,” he said. An exception is recently hired petroleum engineer Shane Hollerich of Bethel Park.

“Larger companies want you to have a petroleum engineer on staff,” Anderson said.

Anderson has been approved for state low-interest loan and other funding, which will help pay for his equipment.

Melanie Johnson, Governor’s Action Team regional director, and C. Alan Walker, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, visited his business Tuesday with local economic development officials.

Anderson aspires to expand into Texas, then to eastern Pennsylvania. He foresees eventually being bought out by a bigger company, “then I’ll start again. It’s what happens.”

Walker pointed out that Pennsylvania is the second-largest natural gas producer in the United States behind Texas. He has been visiting all 67 counties in Pennsylvania and working in Beaver County with Royal Dutch Shell on the proposed cracker plant.

He said Shell expects to finalize its decision on the cracker plant when it gets needed permits, which include air quality and transportation.

“Air quality is a nine- to 12-month process,” he said, “and they’re in that now.”

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

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