Accelerating the Sand Supply

By The Bakken Magazine Staff | June 24, 2013

Jim Hoffman, president of Wisconsin-based Hoffman Construction Co., decided to ramp up his highway construction and dirt-moving operations in his home state instead of expanding to the Bakken region. The decision to stay home has paid off. After creating a new mining division last year, Hoffman and his team have already transformed into a frack sand mining services company that helps suppliers such as EOG Resources Inc. and Northern Frac Proppants to develop and manage frack mining sites. “We looked at some of the heavy civil work opportunities for companies like ours out in the Bakken oil play,” he said, “but we realized we could probably best support the play from right here in our own backyard.” Part of Hoffman’s decision to stay home is that he wanted to serve the frack sand supply industry, not supply the sand, he said.

The success of Hoffman’s company and the decision to provide frack site development services makes sense given the recent news from Canadian National railway, a global transportation company. The company recently announced plans to upgrade and accelerate its ability to move frack sand from Wisconsin to shale plays across the country. CN will spend $33 million to upgrade its Whitehall Subdivision to increase car-loading capacity and train velocity used to move frack sand from Badger Mining Corp., Preferred Sands of Wisconsin LLC, Atlas Resin Proppants LLC and Taylor Frac LLC. 

The money will help move heavier loads and improve the 74 sections of rail in three years rather than four. The investment by CN is not only just to move more sand, according to Jean-Jacques Ruest, CN’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. It is also “to develop a more robust supply chain for our customers in Wisconsin to connect with the oil and gas shale basins in North America,” he said.