Transloading – Trucks to Rail Cars

If the United States plans to be more self-sufficient when it comes to supplying our own fuel needs then our pipeline system must be improved so it can keep up with the increase in crude oil production. Until then, each well owner is responsible for getting the product to the refinery safely and cost effectively. In order to do that, proper terminals need to be constructed with proper safety equipment to prevent accidents and keep the crude oil moving to the refinery.

It can only be beneficial in lessening our country’s foreign fuel dependence when we find a new oil source here, but if there’s no way to bring that oil to the refinery then it’s fairly worthless. So if you have a crude oil well out in the middle of nowhere how do you get the oil to the pipeline? For example, the well-known Bakken oil play is located in Eastern Montana and parts of Canada. The Bakken location is more than a thousand miles from the nearest pipeline connection. So what has to happen to get this crude to the nearest pipeline for refining?

Once the crude is extracted from the ground it’s stored in huge containers called floating roof tanks. Depending on the location of the nearest railway you may be able to load oil directly into rail cars. But more than likely you will need to load the crude into a tanker truck to transport the oil to the railway. Tanker trucks are filled with oil from the storage tanks. Then the driver takes the truck to the nearest terminal where a rail spur has been built so rail cars can get to the terminal and back onto the railway. Using rail cars to carry product is pretty old school but it’s still the best and most effective way to transport several products including crude oil.

The transloading process happens at the terminal. “Transloading” means to transfer a shipment from one type of transportation to another. In this example the tank trucks cannot be used for the entire trip, so product will be transloaded from the trucks into rail cars.

In order to transload the crude oil from the truck to a rail car, a terminal must be constructed and stocked with the proper equipment to get the job done safely, quickly and efficiently. The main safety feature here is to prevent falls from heights as workers climb around on large pieces of equipment. Spill containment is another concern. The terminal needs to be built by experienced engineers and adhere to OSHA safety guidelines.

A safe and productive terminal includes:

• Single or double-sided loading racks for safe access to a variety of trucks and rail cars.

• Crude oil loading racks with fixed platforms that allow access to multiple vehicles or multiple hatches at once.

• Handrail systems for safe access.

• Racking gangway systems.

• Truck and rail safety cages.

• Portable access platforms and carts for quick access.

• Portable tank track access mobile system with fall prevention cage.

• Rail enclosures to surround the crash box rail.

• Mobile dual vehicle access systems with gangways and fall prevention cages to access the tops of vehicles.

• Top loading arms with valves, fittings and instrumentation equipment for leak free operation in most situations.

• Bottom loading arms provide the safest loading option plus connections are made quickly and tanks are filled faster.

• Loading and unloading skid systems with pumps, valves, filtration, meters, instrumentation, grounding, high-level shut off and ticket printer systems.

Carbis engineers can design anything from rail enclosures to a totally integrated loading/offloading system that works to make your business and employees more efficient and safer on the job.

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