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There Is A New Sandman In Town!

I am an avid believer that Wisconsin sand will have a long run as a King of Sands in the fracing world. However, I am not an engineer or expert, so that pretty much sums up the value of my opinion on the subject. All that said, I see changes emerging in these leaner meaner times, which may show up as trends in the market before the end of the year.

These days, end users are more open to visiting alternative options in their methods and processes, especially if they improve the bottom line. However, they aren’t the only ones looking for ways to improve their returns.

The Sand Guys are finding new methods and ways of reducing costs and treating or processing sand to improve the quality to get a greater return on their investment. This last year of market volatility has redirected the focus of a number of companies to find more efficient and less costly ways of doing just about anything and everything. Frac sand processors have the opportunity to not only consider innovative ideas that reduce costs, but also methods of improving their product to increase market value and get a bigger bang for their buck!

Most of the groups we have talked to, who are considering innovative ideas, are focusing on lower grade sands that they can improve enough to be competitive in the major plays. Logistics has a significant role in this endeavor, because a lower grade sand that can be improved in quality and which doesn’t have to be shipped a long distance, could be a great value to an end user.

Here are a few of the interesting new approaches that we have heard about:

One group has a very inexpensive coating and eliminate any absorption of oil in the sand granules. The sand grains come out of the oil pearly white – there is no need for an ink test there. When you are talking about zero absorption of oil over millions of pounds of sand, that is a value that can add up.

Another product in testing is injected into the washing of the sand and ultimately improves the crush value. The product binds to the silica. How the added washing product works is top secret, of course.

Another product is also a fine coating, which improves the sand crush strength by 1k. But, it isn’t resin. This product is rather inexpensive, so if proven successful, it could be a huge value in production improvements for drillers. It is currently in the testing phase.

Another product we have seen is for treating sand to eliminate silica dust, while it is being moved about prior to and after processing. Unfortunately, this adds cost to the production of the sand and is only beneficial to mines with severe dust control issues or EPA pressures.

Another miner is selling sand that isn’t fully dried. A driller has requested the sand with a higher moisture content due to alternative methods being used at the well site. Apparently, this is an independent operator, who has found a significant savings in his approach. He is also saving on sand costs.

Another one of our miners is testing a product on his water, that precipitates the particulate, chemicals and out of the water so that he can recycle it or return it to natural waterways cleaner than when it was taken out!

And, we have one mine dredging for sand, who is now using a green product that we introduced that is cleaning out his dredge of calcium buildup. A few years ago, they burned up a diesel because it was running hot all the time. We sent them some samples and the first time he used it, his equipment was cleaned out in a matter of a few hours and running at normal temps. He swears by this green product, so much so, that he is willing to share his testimony, if you are interested!

Yep, change is here. And some of the sandmen are forging new ways of doing business.
Oh, and remember the previous article we did on portable containers?

Well, they are gradually entering the market and end users are experiencing sand that is only loaded twice: a) into a container, and b) out of the container into the well. The result is a much higher quality sand going down hole, which equates to increased flowback/production. Each time the sand is transloaded, the sand grinds against itself creating dust and powder, which can ultimately slow down flow back in the well by clogging up openings. Apparently, the improved results are getting serious attention in the field from some engineers.

And further, one group is purchasing a frac sand mine completely off the logistics grid because the economics are so much better with a portable container. They can secure a lower cost reserve and still save money on the end point of delivery using portable containers. It is hard to say that this is a trend now, but we may begin to see an unrealized value in frac sand mines that don’t come with the high costs of rail spurs, barge access, and expensive transload facilities, gaining popularity as companies find savings by directing dollars to portable container leases or purchases rather than infrastructure. We have a few portable container companies to recommend, if you are interested.

Clearly, low priced oil is motivating change for the good in this industry!

These days I admire the confidence of anyone who predict oil prices, market trends, commodities futures or anything else related to oil and gas. You can make just about any declaration and be somewhat accurate as long as you don’t put a time frame on it!

So, for all of you who have confidently predicted that oil prices will return, I predict that when they do, some of the sand men will well positioned for success attained through innovative changes and improvements engaged in leaner times!

Have a great week!


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