By Kevin Killough, energy reporter
At the intersection of two railroads south of Cheyenne is the Cheyenne Logistics Hub. The goal was to build an industrial park that facilitated inbound and outbound shipments on the Union Pacific Railroad and the BNSF railroads.
Among other industries, the industrial park has come to serve companies in the energy industry, including Vestas Wind Systems, which manufacturers wind turbines, and develops and maintains wind farms mainly in the central U.S.
Naptha And Jet Fuel
Sinclair Holly Frontier, which operates small petroleum refineries in Wyoming, uses the hub, and various frac sand supply companies also operate at the park.
The hub is part of the Granite Peak Group portfolio of companies under its umbrella.
Josh Jamison, principal and managing partner for the group, said, BNSF borders one side of the park and Union Pacific is on the other. To make it work as a logistics hub, the developer laid its own track inside the park to connect Union Pacific rail and BNSF rail, and they built tracks to connect the properties within the park.
“It provides a lot of optionality for shipment,” Jamison said.
Sinclair Holly Frontier distills naptha at its refineries and ships it to the industrial hub by truck, where it’s transferred to rail. Naphtha is a highly flammable petroleum product used in lighters and the production of plastics. Camp fuel that’s used in lanterns is a naphtha-based fuel product.
Governor Mark Gordon had initiated a working group earlier this year to look into the cause of high gas prices and what could be done on a state level to address it. One problem the group found was the lack of fuel storage capacity in Wyoming.
Jamison said they’re looking at the potential for bringing in diesel fuel and possibly jet fuel to store at the tanks at the hub, to then be distributed throughout the state.
Wind And Sand
Derek Semandeni, Vestas transportation manager, said wind turbines and the blades take up a lot of space, which the hub provides. The company stores the blades, which have varying lengths, on cars at the facility, so they can be deployed along either rail line to whatever wind farm needs them.
A lot of the sand used in hydraulic fracturing in oil and gas operations comes from Wisconsin and MInnesota. The material is transported by rail, where it’s then transferred to trucks and shipped to the well sites in the Powder River Basin and other areas of Wyoming.
The hub serves other industries as well. Dr. Elsey’s, which produces cat products like litter and food, also utilizes the hub. Wyoming’s bentonite is a main ingredient in cat litter.
Jamison said they’re hoping to bring in more manufacturers and raw material producers, such as rare earth minerals, into the hub. There’s a lot of potential to serve other energy industries, including solar companies, he said.
“It is great for the city of Cheyenne to have this public private partnership that helps attract businesses to Cheyenne. The Granite Peak Group has attracted businesses that have been awesome community members and they have provided exceptional paying jobs,” Cheyenne Mayor Patrick Collins said in a statement.
The park, which was originally called Swan Ranch Industrial park, broke ground with $80 million in investments, in 2008. It opened in 2012 and was rebranded Cheyenne Logistics Hub several years ago.