This Week’s Market Buzz

• Oil prices have slipped recently, pulling back from recent gains as exports from key OPEC producers rose and despite news of lower crude shipments from Saudi Arabia. The oil market has been in consolidation mode after a sharp rally between mid-June and late July pushed U.S. crude futures above $50 a barrel for the first time in several weeks. The price slipped back below $50 and has traded around that number as world supply has been slow to draw down. “It’s just unable to break above $50,” said Kyle Cooper, consultant for ION Energy in Houston. “It’s boring, but there’s a fundamental justification for prices being stuck between $45 and $55 without a significant geopolitical event.”

• A Texas appellate court held that non-Texas residents who acquired and sold Wisconsin frac sand mines and related rights aren’t subject to jurisdiction in Texas court in a trade secrets suit, even if Texas companies claim to rightfully own the assets and the non-residents knew the sand would be sold to Texas customers. According to the opinion, 2011 NF Holdings LLC and Northern Frac Proppants LLC – along with its subsidiaries Northern Frac Proppants Series-1 LLC and Northern Frac Proppants Series-2 LLC – launched its trade secrets lawsuit in 2015 against six parties, alleging that Jeffries Alston, a Louisiana engineer, with the help of the other parties, “embarked on a scheme to steal the frac sand business’ assets.”

• John Merva, writing for Seeking Alpha, said, “The high decline rates of shale wells have increased sand demand as more drilling needs to occur to maintain production. Operators are experimenting with completion designs, seemingly racing to see who can use the highest amount of sand per foot of horizontal well lateral. Sand per well has increased to the point where entire unit trains (75 to 125 railcars) are used to complete a single well. Higher sand intensity, longer laterals, more stages, increasing rig counts, and fewer drilling days per well create a seemingly endless demand for frac sand.”

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