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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Crude-related facility plans advance in Alberta, North Dakota and Wisconsin


Dakota Plains Holdings Inc. today announced its board and joint venture partner UNIMIN Corp. have approved the expansion of oil storage at the Pioneer Terminal in New Town, N.D.

Construction on a third 90,000-barrel storage tank is set to begin immediately, with the tank to be operational by summer 2015.

The addition of a third storage tank, recently announced Hiland Partners gathering pipeline and anticipated expanded rail service at the terminal — which is served by Canadian Pacific — will help increase the throughput rate to one unit train per day, or 80,000 barrels of crude per day, Dakota Plains Holdings officials said in a press release.

CP has been impressed by the terminal's continued expansion and the railroad looks forward to supporting its expanded capacities, said Tommy Browning, CP's vice president of energy and merchandise marketing and sales.

Meanwhile, Athabasca Minerals Inc. last week announced it received approval from Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development to mine silica sand for a 10-year period on an 80-acre parcel in Alberta, Canada.

The raw silica sand will be distributed as frac sand to the oil and gas industry. Proppants testing confirmed that the silica sand is suitable to be utilized as frac sand, Athabasca Minerals officials said in a press release. The 80-acre parcel is the first phase of development of the company's 500-acre Firebag silica sand project.

"[Our] Firebag silica sand project is located in close proximity to western Canadian oil and gas exploration and development projects currently using frac sand from suppliers outside of Canada," said Athabasca Mineral President and Chief Executive Officer Dom Kriangkum.

Athabasca Minerals executives have been holding discussions with officials from a major railroad and the regional municipality of Wood Buffalo in northeastern Alberta to develop a private switch and transloading facility in Fort McMurray.

In Wisconsin, Northern Rail & Transload last month broke ground for a rail hub in Dovre that will feature a triple loop track with capacity for three 110-car unit trains. The Barron County hub will be the largest transload facility in rural Wisconsin, according to the company.

To be served by Union Pacific Railroad and Progressive Rail Inc., the facility also will feature ladder tracks to accommodate the storage of up to 500 additional rail cars.

The rural Wisconsin region currently is underserved by rail services due to a lack of adequate transload facilities, Northern Rail & Transload officials said in a press release. The hub will offer on/off loading and storage services for a range of commodities, including liquid propane, frac sand, road salt, fertilizers, and agricultural and forest products.

Beginning in November, Northern Rail & Transload plans to provide initial services in time for the upcoming harvest and propane heating demands. The facility will reach full capacity by May 2015, company officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/2/2014