The Marcellus drilling transport system is a complex maze of independent businesses that work together so an efficient and reliable service can be realized by the energy industry. The benefit to the American consumer is lower energy price they will pay for the natural gas that is used in the homes and at the gas pumps.
The reason a specialized system is needed for the Marcellus shale rock basin is the number of wells located there. Unlike regular industrial business ventures, the drilling of wells requires a company to have many different locations. For this they need to set up a supply chain to provide the required raw materials needed at each well.
Fortunately for the wells being drilled in the Marcellus basin, the energy reservoirs are known to exist there. This allows for each well that is drilled to be productive. It is the nature of the shale rock layer that makes this possible. What is limited is the amount of natural gas and oil that can be extracted from each of these wells.
To supply the needs of each well the use of the railroad transit system is used. This is the lowest price and most efficient means to transport the raw materials required of each well site to an area near their location. On the rail lines there are transloading stations strategically located in areas about 600 miles apart from each other.
The reason the transloading stations are 600 miles apart is because one station can send out tractor trailers loaded with bulk material for a radius of 300 miles in a one day trip. This permits each load to be taken off the rail car and delivered to the site where it was ordered in less than a day.
The transloading stations are independent businesses that specialize in the offloading of raw materials from railcars to tractor trailers. One example of their expertise is with frac sand. This raw material is ordered by the railcar load. A transloading station that is operating efficiently can offload the frac sand from one rail car to the awaiting five tractor trailers in one hour. This is done with a dedicated conveyor. The more conveyors a transloading station has, the greater number of railcars that can be offloaded per hour.
This same delivery mechanism is also used for the transport of drilling rods and piping, water and all other bulk material needed by the energy companies at their well sites. This efficient means of Marcellus drilling transport mechanism is why the energy being extracted from this basin is arriving at such a low cost despite the added effort to recover the natural gas and oil from beneath the ground.
- Marcellus Shale Natural Gas (transloading.org)
- Frac Sand Transportation (transloading.org)
- A Frac Sand Loading Facility: and Why We Need Them (transloading.org)