Ethanol Loading with SafeRack and Jefferson Energy

As countries around the world such as Mexico and Brazil produce less refined petroleum, American companies such as Exxon, Valero, and Shell are rising to meet the demand. Because refined product pipelines are historically unsafe and unreliable, a more secure method of transport in emerging markets is clearly needed. U.S.-based refiners and midstream terminal companies are well-positioned to pick up the slack, but often lack the infrastructure to meet and execute the demand for export. When Jefferson Energy, a midstream oil company serving the Gulf Coast agreed to partner with Exxon to provide logistics, they needed a safe and efficient loading system to support their entry into the market. With the ability to load 87 and 93 octane gasoline with additives and ultra-low sulfur diesel by rail and marine transport, full-custody transfer of the product was possible—an exciting possibility considering the recent liberalization of the Mexican market. SafeRack was ready with a customized solution to help Jefferson Energy successfully meet the market demand with a 10-spot double-sided refined rack. With the completion of the SafeRack installation in 2017, Jefferson and Exxon became the first U.S.-based companies to provide unit trains of gasoline and diesel to the entire fuels value chain in Mexico.

“Most terminals take 3-4 hours to unload 15 railcars. We’re now unloading 15, setting up the next 15, and unloading them in under 2.5 hours. SafeRack’s installation reduced unloading time by about 40%, impacting productivity significantly.”

The recognized world leader in the design, manufacturing, and installation of terminal loading systems, SafeRack has been providing truck, rail, ship, and barge loading and unloading systems using state-of-the-art technology since 2002. Their award-winning products and patents have helped build world-class facilities in 62 countries. Recently they’ve expanded their capabilities with proprietary software and comprehensive design and engineering services to help regional and overseas partners receive ethanol and refined petroleum products without the use of pipelines.

“When you’re loading refined petroleum or ethanol into railcars headed for a Gulf port bound for Mexico, SafeRack provides the safest and most efficient infrastructure design and installation available on the market. We make it easy and cost-effective for exporters to get their product to market,” says SafeRack Gulf Coast Business Unit Leader John Edwards. “We’re already the preferred installer. Projects like the one at the Jefferson Energy terminal prove we make it easy and cost-effective for the exporter by designing, integrating, and installing their systems from start to finish.”

The Jefferson Energy terminal is located in 243 acres in Beaumont, Texas. The Port of Beaumont is the fourth busiest port in the U.S. and the busiest military port in the country. A GlobeNewswire press release from Dec. 2017 reported that “The terminal is currently served by three Class I railroad carriers, allowing delivery from most origination terminals and plants in North America.”

Jefferson Energy Project Manager Larry Doucet was astounded by SafeRack’s ability to deliver even when Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017 and threatened to cause serious delays. Although Beaumont received record rainfall and was significantly impacted by the category 3 hurricane, SafeRack was nimble enough to meet their demand for a quick turnaround regardless. Safe and efficient transport is essential when it comes to the ethanol and petroleum export business.

Using proprietary design and engineering technology SafeRack determined that 30 unloading spots were necessary to justify the Jefferson Energy project. Accurate budget numbers and a strategic design made it easy for them to move forward quickly. SafeRack engineers designed a seamless track and gangway system so railcars wouldn’t have to be decoupled while unloading. This was a huge time-saver and compensated for mis-spotting at the rails. SafeRack works with railcar manufacturers so platforms can be designed to adapt to common industry variations. “We specialize in the integration of the equipment on the loading rack so our customers can move their products efficiently,” explains Edwards. “Our goal is to design and install a complete package system so our customers can just plug and play. When it’s time, they hit the go button, and everything works.”

“There’s a growing need for reliable infrastructure as regional and overseas partners increase their market share of refined petroleum and ethanol products,” says Business Unit Leader John Edwards, “and we’re prepared to fill it.” In July of 2017, Reuters reported that U.S. refineries were producing more than ever in an attempt to meet the growing demand of buyers overseas. By the end of 2018, the U.S. refined petroleum export market continued to skyrocket. Gulf Coast expansion projects doubled the capacity of the previous market—which means excellent positioning for SafeRack.

With the increasing demands of the market, efficiency is key. SafeRack Regional Account Manager Jeff Girard explains, “The advantage of working directly with industry experts like us for a company like Jefferson Energy is that we can quickly identify challenges, create solutions, and accurately estimate costs so that they can capture the developing market space quickly and efficiently.” Because the turnaround time on a typical refined petroleum infrastructure development project is under a year, SafeRack’s streamlined systems and superior customer service ensure capital projects are approved, funded, and executed in record time.

Ongoing labor shortages in the gulf coast have engineering projects at maximum capacity, which means infrastructure build-out projects are often not executed in a timely manner. SafeRack’s unique engineering, manufacturing, and installation capabilities provide a comprehensive solution, a valuable resource to the domestic market. For operators looking to integrate technology and complete projects on time, SafeRack has a competitive advantage and bridges that gap.

Doucet was pleased with SafeRack’s adaptive ability to deliver the perfect loading solution. “Most terminals take 3-4 hours to unload 15 railcars. We’re now unloading 15, setting up the next 15, and unloading them in under 2.5 hours. SafeRack’s installation reduced unloading time by about 40%, impacting productivity significantly.”

In addition to designing solutions that ensure worker and facility safety all over the world, SafeRack’s systems are responsible for loading and unloading more crude oil into railcars than any others on the market today. With miles of platforms and gangways successfully installed for thousands of clients, SafeRack has established itself as the leader in designing, building, installing loading terminals, rail construction, spill containment, and safety solutions for the oil and gas industry worldwide. To watch a video about the Jefferson Energy project, use this link. For more information about how SafeRack is meeting the growing needs of the refined petroleum export market in the U.S., visit