A case in point is the current plight of passengers on Amtrak's "Empire Builder." Effective until Sept. 30 this year, Amtrak has the following advisory on its website: "Passengers traveling aboard Empire Builder trains can encounter significant delays due to very high volumes of freight train traffic along the route. During the two week period ending August 2, 2014, trains encountered delays of approximately three to six hours. While delays to the Empire Builder have primarily been occurring west of St. Paul, MN, passengers should anticipate delays in both directions." As ever, passengers rank behind freight.
Shipping sand, however, is not just railroads: Trains may take it from point C to point D, but the sand might be mined at point A, processed at point B and go down the well at point E.
Getting from A to E may involve such other stages as transfer and transport by truck from processor to rail head (transloading), transfer and transport from rail head to well (transloading), intermediate storage, etc.
Very often these other stages will be the responsibility of specialist logistics companies, for example, Enserco Midstream LLC which, to address just such market opportunities, bought Frac Resources, LLC in January of this year.
Indeed, frac sands logistics is such a booming business that the 2nd Annual Frac Sand Logistics & Market Forecast Summit USA 2014 is will take place in Houston at the end of October.
The fracking boom is going to be here in the U.S. for a while. And frac sand will continue to play an integral part in the exploitation of unconventional resources, as will all the infrastructure that supports it on its journey from mine to well.
There is also every likelihood that the exploitation of unconventional energy resources—particularly fracking—will become more prevalent outside the U.S. If it does, the demand for frac sand will increase further.
Looking for the right opportunities, at the right time, and in the most promising segment(s) of the market should be very interesting.