Channel 19

Todd Dills

Crude hauling in N.D., Texas with former expediters

| May 12, 2012

A story in this month’s Truckers News followed the transition of the former FedEx Custom Critical expediting team of Mark Kathrein and Wendy Wing (pictured) into a crude-hauling operation in North Dakota. Just as the May magazine was going to press, as mentioned in the story, the ultra-rugged, cold climes of North Dakota gas-and-oil-well trucking were leading Kathrein and Wing toward the more established industry down in Texas. I spoke with the two this past week, part of some ongoing reporting I’m working on for a story looking at trucking services around natural gas/oil wells around the nation.

They’ve now leased on with Lessley Services, longtime owner-operator Jimmy Lessley’s two-year-old crude- and natural gas condensate-hauling small fleet. They plunked down close to $100,000 for a brand-new Tytal 8,400-gal./200-barrel 407-code-compliant tanker to get in on the operation, hauling crude from a well on the King Ranch between Laredo and San Antonio mostly to Corpus Christi facilities.

They’re doing it in their 2006 Freightliner Classic, with an 84-inch sleeper. “There are six former FedEx Custom Critical teams here,” says Kathrein, evidence of the prime attraction of oil field work around the nation, whether hauling dry bulk sand, water, vaccuum tank, or crude.

On a really good day, says Kathrein, “we can get in three loads in 24 hours” in drive/sleep team mode, as expediter Phil Madsen calls the near-continuous operation that is possible team-driving. “That’s a huge payday – we can make up to $4,000 a day doing that, but we typically make about $2,500-$2,600 a day seven days a week.”

They’re paid an 80/20 split with the carrier, and the rate is computed per-barrel. “And the further the haul, the higher the barrel rate,” Kathrein says. 190 barrels on a haul that’s 200 miles might be $6 a barrel, a 30-mile run at $3 a barrel. “The money is very good,” he adds. “This is where the money’s at as far as I can tell – we’re making twice what we were making” in their former operation.

This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve reported on the earning potential in oil and gas trucking services in the past six months. Recall this post, pointing to the “Chasing the Green” feature in the January issue of Overdrive, which is part profiled frack sand dry bulk haulers Steve and Doris Bixler in Pennsylvania.

Here’s a question: Anybody else benefiting in a big way from the uptick in oil and gas, as drilling companies leverage fracking technology, horizontal drilling and seismic exploratory advancements to make old wells produce more quickly and new ones where they weren’t possible before?

If so, I’d love to talk to you. Comment here, or otherwise be in touch.