As focus shifts to transport, Town of Whitehall resists a loading facility. But Glacier is taking another run at the Starkey project.

Good news this morning from Trempealeau County where last night the Whitehall City Council unanimously denied the annexation request for the Whitehall Rail and Sand project.  In addition they passed a resolution for the 226 acres to be placed into extra territorial zoning so that the towns of Lincoln and Whitehall can take up to 2 years to come up with a land use plan.

This is part of an emerging theme that we’re seeing in recent frac sand news.  The tricky bit (aside from coming up with sand instead of dirt) seems to be getting the sand to market.  Here’s a snippet from a recent article that acknowledges that this is a puzzler that’s not going away any time soon.  And also explains why the Glacier people are sniffing around the Town of Milton to take another run at their previously-denied Starkey transload project.  Here’s a snippet from the article:

Logistics priority

You can mine a frac sand deposit, but can you get it to market?

That’s the $64,000 question – or more like the $64 million question these days for anyone involved in shipping frac sand to drill sites across North America.

Industrial Minerals June 2013 issue features an oilfield special which includes a review of frac sand logistics and projects, but also exclusively profiles Halliburton’s recently opened state-of-the-art 40m lb frac sand transfer terminal at Windsor, Colorado.

Serving the Niobrara Basin, this is world’s largest frac sand facility of its type and signifies the importance oilfield service companies attach to securing adequate logistics infrastructure.

Likewise, in May, US Silica opened its 15,000 tonne silica sand storage and distribution facility in San Antonio, Texas, in partnership with BNSF Railway Co.

And yesterday, Canadian National Railway announced increased investment to the tune of $33m to upgrade its Whitehall subdivision, in Wisconsin, to meet increased demand for car-loading capacity and train velocity for frac sand producers Badger Mining, Preferred Sands, Atlas Resin Proppants, and Taylor Frac.

With frac sand freights costs accounting for as much as 61% of its delivered cost, 2012 saw Baker-Hughes target $100-120m savings with a range of raw material supply initiatives.

So for those of you who helped defeat the Glacier project, get ready for another round because the stakes are rising.  Winona is full.  Whitehall is resisting expansion.  Wabasha is a long way away.  Putting a major transload facility right across from the school would make Buffalo County segment of the Great River Road the transportation hub for the region.  First stop?  Town of Milton — where they’re calling Board members to tee up support for an application to the County to rezone the Starkey land from Ag to Industrial.

Buffalo Country transportation hub

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