Posts Tagged ‘railcar’
The railcar transloading business has been in America for well over 100 years. The first ones were created by providing a service to those that needed an economical and safe way of transferring bulk material from railcars to tractor trailers.
The idea of this can from big industry. Most large manufacturing plants have their own transloading stations on site at their facilities. They also had a rail line running to them so the delivery of bulk material by railcar could be made.
There was a need to provide this service to the smaller business man and for industries that had small locations located in many different areas of the country. This evoked the American entrepreneur spirit in the pioneers in the transloading business.
When a feasibility study was conducted, it was determined that the average tractor trailer could make a delivery of bulk items in a 300 mile radius of a transloading station in just one day. This is the area in which any transloading station could solicit business from their community. By placing a transloading station in an area of the country that had business which needed this type of service, the building of transloading stations commenced.
It all depends on what types of industry is located in any 300 mile radius of a centrally located station that will determine if this is a profitable business venture. In the Marcellus shale rock basin in the north eastern portion of America, this service is needed by the natural gas and oil exploration companies.
This is a very large industry but they have multiple sites located in thousands of places in this area. For this reason it would not be economically feasible to run a rail line to each production well. By using a transloading station located within 300 miles of their well, the delivery of bulk material, like frac sand can be more efficiently and at a reduced cost than doing it themselves.
This saves the energy exploration companies money by them not having to spend capital on rail lines, a facility for the off loading of the material, the equipment to make the transfer and the storage bins for the material. By utilizing the transloading stations for the transfer and then the trailers as the storage bins, the cost of drilling a well is done at a lower cost.
This same service of railcar transloading is also used by many smaller businesses that have the need for large scale bulk items so the transportation costs are manageable. This also makes use of professionals that only handle bulk transfers for this task can be done at the lowest possible cost in the fastest time frame possible.
- Marcellus Drilling Transport (transloading.org)
- Transporting Sand for Natural Gas (transloading.org)
- Record Deliveries Signal Turnaround For This Railcar Maker (forbes.com)
The process of transporting sand for natural gas extraction from the Marcellus shale rock basin is needed because of the fracking process that must occur. This fracking process is done by mixing water or a propane gel with frac sand and injecting this slurry into the energy well under pressure. The frac sands purpose is to keep the fissures open that are the result of the slurry fracturing the shale rock deposit.
To deliver the frac sand from the quarries where it is recovered, to the wells in the energy fields are a precise path of transportation that has been developed. Most of the larger quarries are on existing railroad lines. This makes the loading of the frac sand into rail cars easy and economically feasible.
This transporting of the frac sand by rail car has been done for nearly as long as the fracking process in energy wells has occurred. This frac sand along with many other bulk items are moved across America by rail because of the amount of load the rail cars can carry and the low price of doing it in this manner.
Unfortunately most of the natural gas and oil wells in need of the frac sand are not on existing rail lines. This is why the need for transloading stations came about. These stations have only one line of business. This is to safely and efficiently transfer the contents of bulk material from rail cars to awaiting tractor trailers so it can be delivered to its final destination.
The frac sand that is brought to the transloading stations can be transferred to delivery trucks at a rate of one rail car an hour per conveyor that is used. It takes five tractor trailers per rail car when this unloading process is being done. This is an important factor when conducting this type of business because of the demurrage charges.
The demurrage charge is what the railroad companies charge when one of their rail cars is idle for over a 24 hour period. By the energy companies using transloading stations that specialize in the transfer of frac sand and other bulk items, this added expense to the transportation cost of the raw materials can be avoided. This allows for a greater profit potential the companies using this service and allows them to lower their process.
The transporting sand for natural gas exploration and the use of the transloading stations is just one way the costs that are passed down to the American consumer are as low as possible.
The availability of transloading facilities is limited to areas of the country where industry has a need for bulk material being delivered. This type of business is not something most American consumers are aware of or even that they exist but benefit from their services by the lower prices they enjoy on many items they use.
One of the places this cost savings is enjoyed is at the gas pump. By the transloading stations being placed near the oil and gas wells, the raw materials can be delivered to the wells for a lower cost with a reduction in the chances of it becoming contaminated or damage while in transport.
The cost savings is also realized in the American home with lower natural gas prices. This is especially true with the contribution of the transloading facilities on and near the Marcellus Shale rock deposit in the northeastern portion of the nation. These facilities are located in many of these states where there are active natural gas wells being explored.
Bulk Materials Transloading Facilities
The types of raw materials that these transloading stations handle include frac sand, water, piping surfactants and other items that are used on natural gas recovery sites. The reason these stations are so needed is because of the specific tasks they perform.
It is the responsibility of each transloading facility to transfer the raw materials from the rail cars to a waiting tractor trailers in the safest and most efficient manner while reducing or eliminating any possibility of contamination. This is possible because these stations are dedicated to handling these bulk items and do this on a regular basis.
The transfer of frac sand is the best example of this. At a transloading facility there are conveyers that take the frac sand from the rail cars and dump it into the tractor trailers. The conveyors are dedicated for this purpose so the frac sand does not become contaminated. One conveyor can transfer the contents of one rail car into 5 tractor trailers in about an hour.
With the use of 5 conveyors, 5 rail cars can be unloaded per hour reaching a total of 120 in a 24 hour period. This is important since the first 24 hours a rail car is at its final destination has a demurrage charge of $0. After that point, there is a charge per rail car per hour it is idle. By being able to handle this type of bulk material in an efficient manner, the charges for transporting the material are kept to a minimum.
This is just one example how transloading facilities are helping to keep energy prices low. This then makes a contribution to helping the American consumer spend less on their energy needs so they can use their revenue on other necessary items around their home.
- Shale Gas Fracking (transloading.org)
- Frac Sand Transportation (transloading.org)
- A Frac Sand Loading Facility: and Why We Need Them (transloading.org)
[Image courtesy flickr.com/Bengt]
The process of transloading frac sand is one of those types of transfers that go highly unnoticed unless there is a problem, or it takes too much time. What most people do not realize is that his is a critical step in the transportation of this vital commodity.
What is not apparent to most that observe this transfer of bulk material is that it has to remain as free of contamination as possible. This might be the same types of sand that is found on the beaches around the world, but it has a specific task that it will need to perform.
All frac sand that is in transported to the oil and natural gas fields in America are destined to perform an important task. This is to keep the fractures open during the hydrofracking and propane fracking procedures so the valuable energy reserve can be extracted at the well bore. Without this frac sand being present and free of contaminates, the fractures in the rock bed would not remain open allowing the recovery of the energy reserves to occur.
The reason contamination of the frac sand has to be kept at a minimum is to help prevent an unwanted reaction to occur so the intended task it is to perform can happen. It also allows the frac sand to be more efficient in performing its task.
To help minimize the contamination of the frac sand during the transloading of the material from the rail cars to the tractor trailers, a designated conveyor is used. In the stations that are equipped properly, there is more than just one. Ideally there should be a conveyor for each station that a railcar can be positioned into for unloading.
On average it takes 5 tractor trailers to transload just one rail car. The time it takes to do this one railcar is just over an hour’s time. Since the demurrage of each rail car is at no charge for the first 24 hours, it is financially responsible for the transloading station to perform the transloading of the frac sand within this time to minimize the cost of transporting this commodity.
An average load of frac sand sent by rail car is upwards of 25 cars. For this reason it is fiscally responsible to have up to 5 different transloading stations to off load the frac sand to help minimize the cost of its transport. 5 stations will be able to transload the frac sand of 25 rail cars in 5 hours. This will not only reduce the time required for the transportation of the frac sand to its final destination, but help to minimize the cost of its transport.
Transloading frac sand is more complex than it first appears to the casual observer. This is ok since the operators of the transloading stations know the tasks they have to perform and why.
- Transload Equipment for Bulk Sand (transloading.org)
- Railcar Sand Unloading (transloading.org)
- Why Use Sand with Fracking (transloading.org)
(Note: the image used above is of a transloading operation of a product that is not sand, however the process is quite similar. Thanks to Bengt at flickr.com for calling my attention to this and thanks also for the use of the image. Rich Hill admin.)
The place where railcar sand unloading is most frequently done is a transloading station. This is very frequently associated with the energy exploration and recovery fields. Frac sand is used in their hydrofracking process to release more of the trapped energy reserves from the rock beds below the surface.
The unloading of a rail car that is filled with sand might sound like an easy task, but that is only so because of the equipment that is used. These are portable conveyor belts that can be easily positioned under the railcar to catch the frac sand as it falls from the bottom chute.
In most instances, the other end of the conveyor is over a tractor trailer so it can complete its travels to its final destination. Whether it is frac sand or some other bulk material, the transloading station is just a transfer point most of the time. This is done on purpose because of the limited space at the transloading stations and the amount of work it would take to offload material, move it to storage, then move it back out for loading. Essentially, that would double the workload of the workers and the equipment.
Efficiency and speed are the trademarks of the transloading stations that have been around for years serving the business community that relies on railcars for bulk transport. This efficiency would be compromised if storage of the material was to be done at the transloading stations. This is also how this type of business keeps its prices low and delivery of the goods that travel through their stations on their way to the final destination.
The railcar sand unloading is just one of the many types of bulk material transferring done at the transloading station. This is their core business, which they do very efficiently.
We invite contractors in the natural gas drilling business to discuss their transloading requirements with our Blog sponsor. Click Here for TRANZ.
The process of frac sand loading onto a truck or railcar requires special equipment to reduce the chance of contamination. To the layman, sand is sand and they see no reason why frac sand is so special. To those in the oil and natural gas exploration field, they know otherwise.
Frac sand is a very specific type of sand that has a purpose only it can perform. These little particles are the reason that fracking a well actually works. When a fissure is formed, the frac sand penetrates the crack and keeps it from closing again.
The tiny particles that make up the frac sand must be kept free of foreign debris so clogging of the machinery does not occur. This also allows for the maximum effect of the frac sand to occur.
For the transfer of the frac sand from a rail car to a tractor trailer, a conveyer belt is used. These conveyors are specially designed to handle this type of bulk material that reduces the chance of not only contamination, but loss of the material.
For this type of transfer to work in the most efficient way, the container that is holding the frac sand must have an access point in the bottom so the frac sand can easily flow out.
This is the type of equipment that can be found at the transloading facilities that handle this type of bulk material. Because this is so specific, not every transloading facility has this equipment that is dedicated for this specific type of transfer of bulk frac sand only.
It does take a professional to properly conduct the frac sand loading so the material does not get contaminated or lost in the transfer.
It might be possible for bulk material transfer to occur without the proper equipment, but the costs and time will be greatly affected. For this reason alone, most companies in many industries use specialists when this need arises in their business.
The easiest and most efficient way to transport bulk material is by doing so in large quantities. The greatest quantities can be transported by ships and barges. Since most factories and industrial sites are not near or on a waterway, there must be an efficient means by which the bulk material can be transported overland.
The choices for this task are limited to only two possibilities, and they are railcar and truck. In the past, our forefathers only had the rail lines at their disposal. Because of this, there are railroad lines located near almost every major waterway across America. The necessary equipment to conduct the transfer of bulk material is present at these locations to make this transfer not only possible, but done in an efficient manner.
Many manufacturers have private rail lines running to their facilities, but not in every case. To service the factories that do not have rail lines, and other temporary facilities like natural gas and oil wells that need bulk supplies of materials over the road, trucks are used.
To fill the need of bulk transfer from rail cars to trucks, the transloading facilities were built. These facilities are located on the major rail lines that are situated near major roads so easy access to both modes of transportation can be accomplished.
At transloading facilities, the bulk transfer can occur in an efficient manner in both cost and time. This is possible because the proper equipment and know how to accomplish this task are present by these industrial professionals.
This is the current path for the lowest cost and shortest time span for bulk material transfer to occur, and assist the American industrial machine so it can keep moving.