Truckload giant Schneider National launched a new division this month to support energy companies extracting oil and natural gas through hydraulic fracturing.
The company wants to hire as many as 500 truck drivers for the new division in Wyoming, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas, Louisiana and New York.
Schneider, which operates a fleet of tank trucks as well as other types of vehicles, is the latest trucking company to expand into this growing energy-related business.
Companies engaged in hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” use a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals to fracture shale, releasing oil and natural gas.
The practice, used to free gas and oil previously unrecoverable from shale deposits as far as a mile underground, is widely used, but is also controversial.
Environmentalists claim chemicals used in fracking can contaminate water supplies, and protests against the practice are widespread in the U.S. and overseas.
Last year Congress required the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a study on hydraulic fracturing that the agency expects to complete in 2012.
But fracking has grown rapidly in recent years and now accounts for about 30 percent of total U.S. natural gas production, according to the Energy Department.
That spells opportunity for trucking companies operating tank fleets, such as Schneider and Quality Distribution, which recently won a major fracking contract.
Schneider drivers will haul sand and cement to the oil extraction areas and haul crude oil and condensate from the fracking operations, the carrier said.
Increasingly, trucking companies in areas rich in shale deposits such as Pennsylvania say they are competing with fracking operators for drivers.