Keeping Water Flowing Throughout the Permian Basin Requires Diesel
A Texas water services company refines its fuel delivery processes to save time, cost, and ensure that water is consistently flowing to its customers’ sites.
By Cole Walker, territory sales manager, Thunder Creek Equipment
When you think of the oil and gas industry in West Texas and New Mexico, you picture desert, endless horizons, bumpy lease roads, and heavy equipment working 24 hours a day. One thing that doesn’t come to mind immediately is water. The reality is however, that water is the single most important resource to oil and gas extraction in the region.
And what keeps water flowing in the oilfields?
Engines and generators powered by – you guessed it - diesel.
It’s a circle of life that keeps the oilfields in these parts moving, and Flowpoint Water Services has built a name for itself as an expert provider of water transfer systems, water treatment services, as well as water sourcing and distribution.
Throughout all of it is a focus on environmental responsibility — sourcing, handling, storing, and treating that water in a way that is both effective and respectful of how critical this natural resource is to the region.
And while Flowpoint has found ways to efficiently get water where it needs to go, the same has not always been true for getting fuel to power the expansive networks of generators and pumps it takes to keep water flowing to rigs in the Permian basin. Time was at a premium, hauling solutions proving either too small or too big and expensive, and certain solutions were limited to drivers who had either HAZMAT endorsements, CDL licenses, or both.
In looking for new and efficient ways to deliver diesel to sites throughout the region, the company has deployed 690-gallon No HAZMAT Fuel and Service diesel trailers from Thunder Creek Equipment.
“In the past, we were using a lot of transfer tanks — we had an 80-gallon tank in the bed of a truck,” says Aaron De la Garza, maintenance manager, Flowpoint. “These Thunder Creek trailers get them done so much faster. They carry more fuel. The hose on there reaches out 50 feet — so sometimes if we can’t get [equipment] close to a trailer, we’re able to stretch that hose out and get the fueling done.”
The Thunder Creek MTT 690 fuel trailer allows Flowpoint to deliver bulk diesel to its customers without requiring a HAZMAT endorsement and, in some cases (depending on truck and trailer combination, etc.), a CDL. This is made possible by isolating diesel in six separate 115-gallon, DOT-compliant non-bulk tanks. Tanks are joined by a manifold to a common pump, creating complete isolation while driving and controlled dispensing of fuel at the jobsite. Each trailer is built to maintain a low profile and is configured to provide optimal balance and a smooth ride at highway speeds, as well as in the most rugged, off-highway conditions.
“Stuff doesn’t last long in the oil and gas industry,” says De la Garza. “The lease roads… you’re just bouncing around all day long. [These are] awesome trailers. They hold together well, especially under all the beat down that we put them through. The suspension alone [handles really well].”
The ability for employees with a regular, state-issued drivers’ license to tow these trailers throughout the territory is a major benefit to the company in a tough labor market. In the past, those drivers were limited to those smaller diesel tanks in the back of pickup trucks which resulted in consistently wasteful back-and-forth driving.
“We don’t need a HAZMAT or a CDL to drive these or to pull them on the open road,” says De la Garza. “It drives the cost down for manpower. You’re not having to travel back and forth to fill up a fuel tank on the back of a truck.”
There’s also a significant reduction in wear and tear on those trucks thanks to the Thunder Creek trailer. Flowpoint’s team members are able to service more sites, with more diesel, while putting fewer miles on each truck, burning less fuel and saving countless hours in manpower. Additionally, putting these miles and wear on pickup trucks and trailers is less costly than operating a fleet of larger fuel trucks.
“These things pretty much pay for themselves within six to eight months,” says De la Garza. “Just as far as labor costs — you’re knocking out all of the time spent traveling back and forth for fueling. You're taking fueling down from 12 hours down to six or eight hours. So, in a matter of a month these things are already paying themselves off.”
The relatively compact size of each trailer, easily towed behind a pickup truck, also allows each driver to get in and out of relatively confined spaces compared to what a much larger fuel truck is capable of doing.
“They are so versatile,” says De la Garza. “There’s so many different applications you can use them for here in the oil and gas industry. We really do appreciate how small these trailers are and how much volume they can carry. There’s no tight space we can’t get into.”
And maybe most importantly — in an industry where the ability to keep water flowing to fuel our nation’s energy production is critical — is the agility in responsiveness the trailers allow by being easy to transport and easy to operate.
“What sets us apart is our attention to detail — how quick we can respond to a situation as far as the skill we have within our team, how fast we’re willing to answer a crisis situation, and how we respond to those crisis situations versus other companies.”