Calfrac, Trican see delays in rail shipments, don't expect further impact

By Ashley Wiebe
March 5, 2018 - 4:56pm Updated: March 5, 2018 - 7:11pm


MEDICINE HAT, AB — Major oil and gas companies in southern Alberta say they’re seeing the issues railways can have on operations.

Two major players say they could face problems if sand used for fracking isn’t able to get to drilling sites.

It’s an issue they’ve already faced this year and they continue to look for alternatives to make sure operations don’t slow down.

Calfrac Well Services and Trican Well Service say they’re not facing a shortage of the sand, but say there were issues getting it from point A to point B.

Frac sand is necessary for fracking operations.

It’s largely produced in Wisconsin and shipped in by rail.

Once it’s in Canada, companies use trucks to help get it from rail yards to the well heads.

Mother Nature has had more of an impact this year. Both companies say winter weather conditions have slowed the trains down.

Companies had to rely on the sand they had.

Rob Cox, senior vice-president with Trican said they switched to a “tier two” sand, a lesser quality than tier one.

Scott Treadwell, vice-president of capital markets and strategy with Calfrac, said it was never about a shortage of sand, but about being able to move it quickly.

“The weather on the rail networks out of Wisconsin, and some network issues have caused some delays,” he said, over the phone from Calgary. “There’s been some trucking issues in Basin. Certainly when there’s a lot of activity, trucking is one of the first areas that’s quite tight and it just creates a lot of stress on the system, right from wherever the sand is mined, all the way to where it’s needed.”

Treadwell said Calfrac will slow down in the next few weeks, but that’s more so because of the time of year.

Rob Cox with Trican said the issues with the rail lines have mainly been resolved.

He said it seems things have smoothed out and deliveries are starting to come back, but the delays in getting sand to the wells could have had a major impact.

“It was potentially a big issue but due to the relationships we have with our suppliers, tier one and tier two suppliers, we were certainly able to avoid any real big problems,” he said, over the phone from Calgary.

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