2011 marked the first time since 1949 that the US became a net exporter of oil products. Increasing demand for oil continues and for 2013, the US government’s short-term energy outlook forecasts the industry could pump 14% more oil this year. As the rise in US oil production continues, demand for transportation and logistics services to support this industry is also on the increase. This has resulted in acquisitions as providers look to further expand their transportation and logistics service offerings for the oil industry.
For example, US-based bulk transportation provider, Quality Distribution, acquired Trojan Vacuum Services in 2012. Trojan provides transportation services to the oil and gas industry within the Eagle Ford shale region, primarily hauling flowback and production water for various energy customers.
Also in 2012, Canadian-based Transforce acquired certain assets of Peak USA Energy Services through its I.E. Miller Services subsidiary. The acquisition will expand offerings into oil operation districts located in Alice and Kilgore, Texas. Peak USA Energy Services specializes in rig moving, custom heavy hauling, crane and rigging services and oilfield transportation.
Many Class I railroads have also specifically noted plans to focus on the oil industry in 2013. As such, BNSF Logistics, subsidiary of Class I railroad, BNSF, has been particularly aggressive by recently acquiring two companies – Albacor Shipping and EP-Team – to expand its project cargo services. While both these acquisitions provide services to other industries, BNSF will likely benefit in its penetration in the energy industry via these two companies.
While acquisitions will likely continue into 2013, logistics providers are establishing offices in Houston, Texas to focus on the oil industry. Crane Logistics, Kuehne + Nagel, Panalpina and DHL are among a growing number of logistics providers that have a presence in this city. In fact, DHL recently opened its Energy Center in Houston. This facility is located near the George Bush Intercontinental Airport and showcases DHL’s service offerings such as smart metering, rig-move management, inventory management and logistics-strategy development. According to Steve Harley, global president of DHL’s energy strategy, ““The aim is to position ourselves as a leader in energy logistics”.
Indeed, according to the International Energy Agency, the US will surpass Saudi Arabia as the largest producer of oil by 2020. This growth will create great opportunities for not only the logistics and transportation industry but also for the ports – particularly those along the Gulf of Mexico. Additional acquisitions of niche transportation and logistics companies are expected as well as more traditional logistics and transportation providers will likely focus on this growing industry.