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Oil Transportation

Black Gold: Three Strategies to Streamline Oil Transportation

Nathan McGuire
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June 27, 2024
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Black Gold: Three Strategies to Streamline Oil Transportation
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Suppose oil is a critical resource needed to keep things up and running every day. In that case, oil transportation, such as grease or lubrication oils, in addition to crude oil, is surely part of the so-called “critical infrastructure” necessary for powering the nation’s economy.  

Despite the EV and alternate fuel push, the world remains highly dependent on oil from petroleum production. It remains the primary fuel for transportation, heating, cooking, electrical generation, and many other everyday applications. In the United States, oil accounts for 92% of transportation consumption and 26% of industrial consumption. Globally, oil supplies 33% of all energy and is used in products ranging from petrochemicals and plastics to synthetic rubber, fertilizers, and synthetic clothing.

For this reason, oil transportation remains a vital, specialized service necessary to keep the economy going.

Demand for Oil Waxes and Wanes, But Is Evergreen

While oil prices have been challenged recently due to news that OPEC+ plans to undo production cuts from member states this fall, raising fears of oversupply, this is likely a temporary blip. In any event, demand is not going away as so much of industry and commerce is dependent on oil for survival.

At the same time, demand for EVs continues to plummet.  Consumers haven’t been as enthused about the technology as regulators and a heavily invested auto industry had hoped. A recent analysis by Goldman Sachs projects EV sales will fall from 9.8 million units in 2023 to 9.7 million in 2024. This is due to high capital costs, uncertainty around the impact of the 2024 presidential election on EV policy, and the shortage of charging infrastructure.

Challenges in Oil Transportation

Due to its hazardous nature and potential for causing damage in a spill, oil transportation faces a number of challenges. These include logistical complexities, regulatory compliance, and environmental considerations.

Transporting oil, like any other hazardous substance or chemical, is fraught with issues that can significantly impact efficiency and operating costs. The complex logistics include the coordination of a vast network of pipelines, ships, railways, and trucks to ensure timely deliveries. Regulatory compliance requires companies to navigate a web of local, national, and international regulations designed to ensure safety and environmental protection. The oil industry therefore must continually innovate in order to minimize environmental impact and make transportation as safe as possible.

These challenges not only slow down operations but also inflate costs. Oil companies must adopt strategies aimed at streamlining processes and enhancing operational efficiency. Transportation and logistics, naturally, are not among the least of these. By addressing hurdles head-on, companies can reduce delays, cut costs, and ensure a more reliable supply chain.

Strategic Approaches to Streamlining Oil Transportation

Three key strategies for overcoming these challenges are optimizing route management; leveraging advanced technology; and strengthening carrier relationships. We will briefly discuss all three.

Optimizing Route Management

Strategic route planning is essential for enhancing efficiency and reducing costs in oil transportation. By optimizing routes, companies can minimize travel time and fuel consumption, lower operational expenses and lessen the environmental impact.

The integration of advanced GPS and real-time tracking enable transportation managers to continuously monitor routes and identify potential delays. They can then make real-time adjustments to avoid congested areas or hazardous conditions.

Transportation management systems (TMS) offer comprehensive solutions for route optimization. A TMS integrates data from various sources across the network, allowing for dynamic route adjustments and better resource allocation.

By implementing these tools, oil transport companies can achieve significant improvements in efficiency and reliability.

Other Technology Solutions

Advanced technology is revolutionizing oil transportation, enhancing both safety and efficiency. Internet of Things (IoT) sensors provide real-time monitoring of critical details such as temperature, pressure, and location, so any anomalies are detected and quickly addressed. This level of monitoring helps prevent accidents and improves overall safety.

Automated systems reduce the need for manual intervention. For example, automated loading and unloading systems increase speed and accuracy, reducing turnaround times and minimizing the risk of human error. These technologies are instrumental in modernizing logistics, the result being greater efficiency and safety.

Strengthening Carrier Relationships

Building strong partnerships with transportation providers is another vital strategy for streamlining logistics. Effective collaboration with carriers ensures better compliance with regulations, enhances safety, and improves efficiency. These relationships foster trust and communication, enabling more coordinated and responsive transportation.

Partner with An Experienced Logistics Provider

Industry experts advise shippers to form long-term strategic relationships with a group of core carriers and 3PLs to manage their transportation needs. Many industry shippers understand the value and competitive advantage of striking partnerships that offer reliable, on-time service and a low incidence of exceptions and claims.

The time to partner is now, as many 3PLs are focusing on efficiency and differentiation, investing in initiatives to provide increased supply chain visibility and workflow automation.

With a wealth of experience within the energy sector, including challenges particular to oil transportation, Wicker Park Logistics provides a range of services that help companies connect their supply chain to North American customers.

Our innovative TMS provides end-to-end visibility along an oil shipment's entire journey. Customized portals provide full carrier integration, allowing transportation managers to track shipments, update delivery times, optimize carrying capacity, and improve sustainability.

Oil Transportation, Critical to Commerce, Requires An Expert Hand

While energy traders may be temporarily spooked by the latest production news from OPEC+, oil will remain a key energy resource into the foreseeable future. Consumers aren’t quite ready yet to abandon their fossil-fueled vehicles in favor of EVs that remain expensive, have a low resale value, and lack an adequate supply of charging stations.

In the meantime, oil transportation continues to present challenges for shippers due to the highly regulated product's nature, an overly complex supply chain, and the potential for environmental harm.

Wicker Park Logistics, a woman-owned logistics company and WBENC Certified Business, works with a vast network of specialist carriers in North America to provide trucking options designed around your specific needs. Our cloud-enabled transportation “control towers” transform logistics and supply chain performance, driving seamless, efficient operations.

Shippers realize the benefits of an optimized transportation service network built and maintained by a trusted, collaborative 3PL partner. Reach out today for a quick quote.

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