What’s in Print

American PetroLog diversifies with new rail transload facility, domestic tank container service

SINCE its launch in early 2016, American PetroLog LLC has quickly gained a reputation for developing innovative logistics solutions to meet the specialized customer needs. Bulk liquids are a key focus. 

Recent service additions include development of a bulk transload and storage facility in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area and a new domestic ISO tank container service for the chemical industry. Other services include supply chain optimization, dedicated truck fleets, dry bulk and liquid tank storage, project management, and disaster recovery fuel transport. 

American PetroLog has offices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Ashville, North Carolina; Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana; Houston and Venus, Texas; and Cincinnati, Ohio.

American PetroLog was established in 2015 with a small management and operations team that has decades of experience in bulk logistics. The American PetroLog team prides itself in building close partnerships with customers and transport providers.

“We believe we have something better to offer as a niche asset-light third-party logistics provider,” says Jeff Colonna, American PetroLog president. “Our team is very knowledgeable in all aspects of bulk logistics, especially as it relates to the petrochemical industry.

“Our team thrives by solving difficult logistics and transportation problems and creating efficiencies for our customers. We don’t make customers fit our operation; we identify the intricacies of their business and customize a solution that fits their true needs. Our approach enables us to succeed where our competition struggles.

“We are securing a lot of business that other providers have failed to execute. The more specialized the business, the better we do for our customers.”

Refined fuels

American PetroLog initially focused on shipments of aviation and missile fuels for the United States Department of Defense. In short order, the logistics specialists added petrochemicals, ag chemicals, and biodiesel to the cargo mix.

“The government loads—especially missile fuel—can be challenging for many tank truck carriers,” says Robert Kellner, American PetroLog chief relationship officer. “We understand those shipments, and we have the processes in place to handle them safely, reliably, and efficiently.”

American PetroLog has been managing biodiesel and renewable diesel shipments for almost two years, according to Cedric Brown, American PetroLog national account executive. “We’ve handled over 60 million gallons for multiple customers in 2017 incident free.”

A majority of the shipments are destined for overseas markets, primarily Europe. American PetroLog coordinates a transport process that often includes truck, rail, barge, and ship.

The fuel-hauling expertise drew the attention of the Federal Emergency Management Administration this fall in the wake of the hurricanes that struck several Gulf Coast states.

“Within a matter of days, our trucking partners were delivering gasoline and diesel in Texas and Florida,” Brown says. “We’re set up to respond quickly to a variety of emergency events, and we have been doing that since this company was established.”

Carriers partners

American PetroLog has had little or no problem finding tank truck carriers to handle the growing volume of refined fuels and chemical loads. In fact, many tank truck carriers seek out the logistics operator.

The company typically works with smaller to mid-sized tank truck carriers. “We have a relatively small number of transport partners,” says Bailey Bobbitt, American PetroLog operations manager. “We’re never going to have 10,000 partners in our portfolio. We added maybe a dozen dedicated partner carriers this year.”

The fleets serving American PetroLog customers generally range in size from 15 to 50 trucks. “We make it perfectly clear that we are not a truck broker,” Bobbitt says. “We want to partner with them and build a true relationship. We dispatch their equipment, and we can even serve as a marketing manager for them. They give us the ability to provide nationwide service.  

Some of our trucking partners exclusively haul for us. They give us the ability to sell capacity with guaranteed service. We’re able to ramp up for a new customer in as little as a week without taking away capacity from any of our other shippers.”

American PetroLog looks for partner carriers that can pass the company’s safety, service and financial approval processes, while the partners also need to be reliable, have a commitment to guarantee dedicated service, and the driver and equipment availability needed to meet shipper needs. American PetroLog provides fair rates, quick pay, and desirable freightlanes and cargoes. Many trips are out and back.

Expanding services

The model developed by American PetroLog has been extremely successful. Customers keep asking for more services, and the logistics provider rises to the challenge.

Customer demand prompted the logistics provider to open a truck-rail transload and storage facility in Venus, Texas in May of 2017. Development of the facility began after American PetroLog LLC purchased the assets of B&E Grain, Inc in January and began building the infrastructure to support their customers. 

“We made a strategic decision to open a transload and storage terminal in Venus because we recognize that north Texas is a rapidly growing market for both consumption and manufacturing,” Colonna says. “In many cases railroads provide the most economical and reliable means of freight transportation, so our services are needed to support this growth. We’ve been fortunate to have already signed several loading slot and tank storage placement contracts, and we are in the process of finalizing positions for a couple more customers.

“The facility is ideal for coordinating local and regional deliveries from rail tankcars. We can provide efficient and cost-effective distribution service throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mexico.” 

Kellner adds: “We see a ton of upside in growth potential for Venus, and we are actively working with BNSF Railway to identify further opportunities to develop BNSF-served terminals in other markets throughout the US. 

“We feel that we are strategically positioned for long term growth because transload capacity is in short supply in north Texas, we have the ability to scale up capacity at our Venus location and there are over fifty million people living within 500 miles of our Venus location. We also see the potential to serve as an inland port to relieve congestion at maritime ports along the Gulf Coast.” 

The eight-acre facility is served by the BNSF Railway, which offers railcar switching five days a week. The 1,100-ft rail siding can accommodate about 18 railcars, but there is plenty of room to increase capacity to up to 50 railcars.

Two 18,000-gallon fiberglass-reinforced plastic storage tanks with agitation were installed during the development process. Water treatment chemicals are currently being stored in the tanks. Ample room is available at the terminal for additional storage tanks.

Five dry bulk silos are in place at the terminal site and are currently are being used to store 10 million pounds of corn. The silos can handle a wide of agricultural commodities.

In addition to chemicals and agricultural products, American PetroLog’s transload site can handle products such as steel coil, I-beams, pipe, baled paper, crane mats, lumber, paper rolls, roofing materials, scrap materials, and sand.

Equipment at the transload facility includes a 70-ft Fairbanks truck scale. Compressed air and nitrogen are available for transloading cargoes from rail tankcars. Trailer parking is available, and the facility has security fencing, lighting, video monitoring. 

Tank containers

In response to customer calls for increased transportation options for liquid bulk shipments, American PetroLog has invested in a fleet of ISO tank containers. The 6,605-gallon tanks will be used for domestic shipments. 

“With the continued growth in the North American chemical industry and the diminishing availability of tanker trucks, our ISO tanks provide a much needed capacity solution to our customers having predictable and consistent shipping lanes,” Kellner says. “Our ISO tank service gives chemical and ag manufacturers and distributors what they expect and deserve from their logistics partner- reliability, predictability, innovation, cost effectiveness, and safety.

“We expect these ISO tank containers to be in dedicated service, and initially none will go overseas. The first of these new-build tank containers will arrive in the first quarter of 2018. We’re also leasing and purchasing drop-deck tank container chassis.” 

More recently, customers have been asking for warehouse services, and American PetroLog is responding with warehousing capabilities in Houston, TX and Lafayette, LA.

TAGS: Transloading
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