Posts Tagged ‘energy industry’
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)
Why a Frac Sand Blog?
Having a Frac Sand Blog for transloading stations only makes common sense for those that know how closely related the two really are. Both the frac sand and the transloading stations are integral parts of the hydrofracking process that is necessary for the energy companies that are fracking in the Marcellus Shale region.
For those of you just learning about frac sand, this is a short summary of where it comes from, how it is transported and why it is so important to the natural gas and oil exploration companies.
Frac sand is the same silica based material you can find on most any beach around the world. The quarries where it is excavated from are from as far north in North America as the southern portions of Canada to the south in Texas. The difference between the two types of sand is more than just the appearance.
The northern frac sand is called Ottawa Sand is spherical in shape. It’s color is close to being white and the SiO2 concentration of the material is near 95%. The size of the sand particles varies from 12 to 270 on the Tyler mesh scale. Because of its spherical shape, many in the hydrofracking industry prefer to use it in their process thinking it can roll into the fissures farther and sustain the openings in the rock layers better.
The southerner sand is called Texas Brown Sand. This is what most people remember from being on the beach. It is irregularly shaped but its SiO2 content is higher than that of Ottawa being at 99%. Because of its irregular shape the perception is that it might be more permeable into the fissures than its Ottawa counterpart. This sand can be readily found in sizes from 8 to 100 on the Tyler mesh scale.
The preference in just which type of frac sand a manager at the energy well uses is a personal choice. What is known is that both do the same job and both are in use today in the natural gas and oil well hydrofracking process. These are the particles that fit into the fissures created by the fracking process that helps to release the trapped natural gas and oil.
After the sand is taken out of the ground at the quarries, it is run thru a set of sieves. It is the mess size on the sieves that separates the sand into the different sizes that are there. This is how it is purchased by the energy companies. Because this is a bulk material, it is transported by rail cars to a transloading station that is near it’s final destination. There the frac sand is professionally offloaded from the rail cars to tractor trailers for it final leg of its journey.
Now you know where frac sand comes from and why it is so important to the natural gas and oil exploration companies, particularly in the Marcellus Shale region. I hope this frac sand blog has cleared up any questions on just what frac sand is.
- A Frac Sand Loading Facility: and Why We Need Them (transloading.org)
- Marcellus Shale Drilling Described (transloading.org)
- Impressions From a Frac Site (Environmental Law Blog)
A Frac Sand Loading Facility is in business to handle the bulk transfer of this necessary commodity so the energy industry can have an amble supply of their needed material. This area of business has taken a hit during the recent economi9c downturn, but not for the same reason most other business have.
The reason the frac sand transfer facilities or transloading terminals have had a downturn in business is the controversy over the use of hydrofracking of energy wells. With many wells not being able to use the hydrofracking technology to help them extract the needed energy resources from the ground, the need for the raw material in this process has dropped off.
Unfortunately for the transloading facilities, the movement and transferring of bulk material from rail cars to tractor trailers is the only reason they exist. They have little choice of who their clients are and the business they are in because of the nature of the industry.
The transloading facilties were strategically placed to reduce the cost of transporting raw materials to the oil and natural gas wells across America including the Marcellus Shale region in the north eastern portion of the nation. These facilities have been an intricate part of helping to keep the cost of domestic natural gas and oil down over the years.
As special interest groups and politicians have become involved in the hampering the oil and natural gas exploration fields of industry, these businesses are starting to experience economic hardship. These facilities specialize in the quick and efficient loading and offloading of rail cars so the rail lines of the nation are not bogged down by less efficient means of off loading the rail cars.
Hydrofracking has been used as a productive technology to extract the maximum amount of oil and natural gas for expositing wells for over a century. In the shale rock formations, this technology is the only known means to extract the energy reserves from the ground. Without hydrofracking, the nation will have to again be more reliant on foreign oil and natural gas imports to supply the daily demands of the economy.
While all concerns of the American citizens should be addressed, moratoriums on technologies that have been in use for long periods of time should not occur just so the answers of a few can be determined. Work stoppages because of facts are warranted. Work stoppages because of fears are unwarranted and should be avoided in order to keep the economy moving in the right direction.
A sand silo is important to many different users of sand for different reasons. For use at golf courses, they help keep the sand dry and free of debris. This is important to keeping the sand traps functioning properly and so they have a good appearance.
These are elevated silos that a tractor and wagon can pull under and load up a needed supply on. This is what most people think of when referring to a silo, just like the grain silos that are scattered across America.
For use in the energy industry, there is a new type of silo in use. This is the vertical silo. They are still round like the ones on the farm, but lay on their side. This makes them easy to transport to the oil and gas fields. They are of an all-steel construction surrounded by a heavy duty steel skid that allows for them to be transported and positioned easily without breaching the contents of the silo.
The loading of these silos is done through a top hatch that also allows for visual inspection of the contents. The gates that control the openings are hydraulically actuated for precise control of the contents. The pneumatic lines are attached so the sand can be delivered to the drilling platform when it is needed in the hydraulic fracturing of the area beneath the ground.
Since this sand is kept in an enclosed environment, it is free of debris and will flow to the crevasse where it is needed to help keep them open and the oil or gas can then flow to be recovered at the surface.
A sand silo is a common site at energy fields since over 60% of all oil and gas fields use hydraulic fracturing to recover as much of the reserves that are left trapped in the ground by conventional drilling techniques.