Frac Sand Transloading Terminals

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Hydraulic fracture drilling operations have expanded in recent years. As a result, companies involved in the oil and gas energy sectors have focused their attention on the cost and complexities related to the logistics and cost of Frac Sand supply to the vicinity of the drilling operations.

Frac Sand production is not always near to the gas and oil fields. If distances exceed 100 miles, it's more economical to transport by rail. In this case, transloading operations at the location of the oil wells play an important role in the availability and reliability of Frac Sand supply.

Transloading terminals require efficient access and distribution capacity to optimize their commercial viability and growth potential. PEC Consulting Group is experienced in transloading terminals that efficiently and effectively optimize logistic costs.

Transloading Systems

Basically there are 3 different systems for transloading, depending on requirements based on the "length of use" and "throughput". The systems could be:

A. Rail – Truck; Lowest CapEx/High OpEx

A facility to transload directly from the rail cars to bulk trucks can be built quickly and with minimum of investment. On the other hand the time to load trucks take longer as it is limited to the capacity of the rail car unloading conveyors and further slowed by the shifting of the rail cars to position for being loaded, personnel has to be available to man both rail unloading and truck loading. Since the rail can become the storage, demurrage costs may be significant and the site will need to be large enough to allow for several rail spurs for parking both full and empty rail cars.

Frac Transloading4

Frac Transloading1mB. Rail – Warehouse – Truck; Medium CapEx & OpEx

A 'flat storage' warehouse can be built fairly inexpensive to provide temporary storage to minimize rail car demurrage. Rail cars can be unloaded pneumatically to a flat storage, but reclaiming is labor intense as a front-end loader is required to push material to reclaim hoppers. Truck loading capacity is limited to the capacity of the reclaiming conveyors. Per/ton storage is much lower in CapEx than silo.

C. Rail – Silo – Truck; Highest CapEx & Very Low OpEx

Unloading from rail to silos is usually done with mechanical material handling equipment. Rail cars can be unloaded as they are delivered and released to a rail spur to wait to be removed from the site when the next shipment is received. Loading of trucks is by gravity and trucks can be loaded and dispatched within minutes. Operating costs are high on the rail unloading but minimum on the truck loading which can be automated for truck driver operation.


PEC Consulting is experienced in studies for the development of transloading terminals. We have served clients with feasibility studies, evaluation of potential sites, property acquisition, permitting and rail & truck logistics analysis.


This article was contributed by M. Dimah, researcher for PEC Consulting, Mr. Dimah has a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Technology, Baghdad, Iraq, and a Master’s in Chemical Engineering from the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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