CASPER, Wyo. — Crude oil could soon hit the rails in a big way in Casper.
A Casper-based company and another firm jointly announced plans Tuesday for a rail loading and shipping terminal at the Casper Logistics Hub just north of town.
The hub's owner, Casper-based Granite Peak Development, will share 50-50 ownership of the facility with Cogent Energy Solutions, according to Granite Peak President Rich Fairservis. The companies should break ground on the terminal in April and hope to begin operations by October.
"Growing up in Wyoming, we’ve all been around the oil and gas fields," Fairservis said. "This is close to home and we’re excited to have the opportunity to work with Cogent and the various crude shippers around Wyoming and the region."
The Casper expansion would allow crude trains 108 cars long to be loaded with oil produced from Wyoming's Niobrara Shale play in eastern Wyoming and other oil-rich regions in Canada and North Dakota, including the Bakken Shale field.
The facility will at first be able to store about 900,000 barrels of crude, with capacity planned for 3 million barrels. Fairservis said the terminal will employ about 40 workers and load at least two trains per day or three if "everything’s running like a Singer sewing machine." Each train holds between 70,000 and 80,000 barrels of oil.
Crude will be both trucked in and loaded via pipeline.
The state Department of Environmental Quality must sign off before the companies can begin construction on two rail loops needed for the project. The loops would connect to the BNSF railroad main line.
The loading facility is the second announced by Wyoming companies in the past two weeks. Casper-based Eighty-Eight Oil announced a similar project planned near Guernsey in late January. That terminal could be operational by the end of the year.
A call to Overland Park, Kan.-based Cogent Energy wasn't returned. A statement by the company called Cogent an "arbitrage and petroleum asset development firm." Little other information about the company could be found, but Fairservis said the company has a stake in the Bakken Oil Express, a North Dakota-based rail hub known for shipping crude.
"We are very proud to be working alongside Granite Peak on this project," Randy Balhorn, Cogent president, said in a prepared statement. "The Casper location has long been targeted for this type of asset because of its proximity to pipelines carrying Canadian and domestic crudes, as well as local production."