First year down: ADM-Benson Quinn adds frack sand operation within a year of opening
HEBRON — Before there were barrels and barrels of oil coming out of North Dakota, there were amber waves of grain covering the prairie.
A new elevator in this west Morton County town has found a way to marry North Dakota’s two biggest industries.
After its first full year of business in an agriculture-based community, Archer Daniels Midland Co. has found an oilfield niche at its Hebron grain elevator.
Not only does it take wheat, sunflowers and canola, it added a frack sand transloading facility, general manager Shawn Schaff said.
“That is a 24/7 business that is staffed with 12 full-time guys on the frack,” Schaff said.
The frack sand operation employs more people than the elevator, Schaff said. There are nine full-time workers there. The operation began more than a year ago.
“We’re always looking for opportunities,” Schaff said. “We were contacted by an oil service company with the option of using our loop track for additional revenue stream and that’s how that came about.”
While the sand is used for fracking, it is just regular sand at the facility and has not been treated with any chemicals, Schaff said.
“It comes in by rail and we transload it via conveyor to pneumatic trucks that go to the well sites,” Schaff said.
In addition to expanding into oilfield service, the elevator added a grain dryer in 2013, which started drying corn in November.
“It’s been good,” Schaff said. “It’s taken time for us to build some relationships, but overall it’s been surprisingly pretty good.”
There has been a facility in Hensler that Schaff also manages, but the Hebron location is the Illinois-based agriculture company’s furthest west location in North Dakota.
“We were doing business with producers in that area, and we were looking to expand our footprint in western North Dakota,” Schaff said. “That’s why that site was chosen.”
The elevator has a storage capacity of more than 2.6 million bushels of grain, ADM spokeswoman Jackie Anderson previously told The Press. In the future, the elevator is looking to growner further, Schaff said.
“Overall, the first year went good,” Schaff said. “We’ve been the new kid on the block out there trying it build clientele.”