The recent discovery of oil reserves in southern Illinois could lead to a business boom in the area. Drillers have leased acres of land across the region to take advantage of available natural resources, and if state legislators can come to an agreement that would regulate fracking operations, they may soon be ready to drill.
Fracking is a process that hasn't yet been tried extensively in the state, so drillers will need to source the necessary materials and equipment from elsewhere until support infrastructure develops closer to drilling areas. The method uses high-pressure combinations of water, chemicals and sand to open rock formations and extract oil and natural gas, and some companies may already have plans to ship the required materials from states in which fracking is common, such as North Dakota and Pennsylvania.
However, drilling operations won't only have to transport supplies to drilling sites - they'll also have to determine the most cost-effective and efficient way to ship extracted oil and gas from the region for processing or to major purchasers. In both instances, trucks and drivers will be covering significant distances to get products where they are most needed.
As these businesses increase their capabilities in southern Illinois, they will generate local opportunities for trucking and transportation businesses to expand as well. Based on the economic impact of shale oil development in regions such as Pennsylvania and Ohio, the energy sector can put significant upward pressure on regional pay rates for CDL-licensed drivers. This can lead to many professional drivers leaving traditional trucking companies or distribution operations with private fleets in order to take advantage of higher pay in oilfield services.
The competition for qualified drivers may force distribution fleets in particular to explore the use of routing and optimization software to squeeze higher productivity out of fewer trucks and drivers. The additional benefits of transportation cost reduction offered by vehicle routing software may also help distributors increase driver pay and aid in higher retention.