Trucks line up for frack sand

FAIRFIELD – Fracking sand was in demand as trucks lined up Tuesday at the Buckeye Transfer Realty facility on Esterly Drive in Fairfield Township in Columbiana County.

The new full-service oil and gas center is located just off state Route 11 at the former National Refractories site and expects to ramp up and deliver 25,000 to 30,000 tons of frack sand a month soon, possibly beginning in March.

Buckeye Transfer deals exclusively with Sandtrol to provide three grades of frack sand to customers, and action picked up about two weeks ago as the emerging shale boom continues gathering steam.

Owner Jerry Stoneburner first envisioned a truck-to-rail oil and gas transfer station for the 95-acre site, but it is quickly emerging into a full-service logistical supply depot for the drilling companies.

The linchpin is the facility’s location that is crossed by a major east-west railroad and north-south interstate highway.

Stoneburner said he expects to see a frack-water recycling facility installed on the property along with the truck-to-rail oil and gas transfer and has talked about storing an inventory of pipe on the grounds.

On Tuesday afternoon, semis pulling three-compartment pneumatic tankers were pulling into the facility, drawing up the to the scales for empty-weight readings before proceeding to the north side, where a line of railcars filled with Sandtrol frack sand stood behind two RBT (rail-barge-truck) mobile conveyors.

Buckeye Transfer has four of the RBT units that transfer sand from bottom ports in the railcars, feed it up a conveyer and into the top opening of the tankers.

The entire system is enclosed, sealing off the specially processed frack sand from outside elements.

One truck after another checked in at the scales before taking a spot in line as operator Chad Hughes, and another further down the line, guided the drivers to precise points under the RBTs.

Once the trucks were positioned, the operators climbed walkways to the top of the conveyor and attached the ends to the openings atop the tank.

Minutes later sand, flowing at about 100 tons an hour was delivered up conveyors geared to a 250-ton an hour capability.

Stoneburner said that for now they keep it around 100 tons an hour and the trucks are filled in roughly 15 to 20 minutes.

Shields writes for the Salem News.