At the recent ConExpo-Con/Agg show in Las Vegas, Rock Products sponsored an educational session entitled “Frac Sand: How Technology and Market Dynamics will Drive Future Success.” The session – moderated by Editor Mark S. Kuhar – included presentations by:
- Joel Schneyer, managing director, Headwaters MB.
- Mark Krumenacher senior principal/senior vice president, GZA Geoenvironmental.
- Matthew Lear, regional sales manager, McLanahan Corp.
“Rig counts, company budgets and frac sand forecasts have turned a corner, and there are a number of positive developments in the marketplace,” said Schneyer in his presentation “Shifting Sands.”
Drilling activity is on the upswing driven by horizontal wells, according to Schneyer, and new completion trends are creating demand drivers for frac sand. “Operators are using more sand, and are finding finer and lower-quality sand fits the needs as well as their tight budgets,” he said.
Schneyer cited a number of factors in the proppant market, leading to the conclusion that U.S. sand demand is poised for a market resurgence.
Krumenacher addressed the challenges frac sand producers face obtaining special use permits for nonmetallic mining operations. In preaching the importance of community outreach, he recommended:
- Engaging multiple stakeholders.
- Understanding the regulatory environment, ongoing research and education.
- Addressing concerns in technically sound, straightforward documentation that supports a permit application.
“The overwhelming public information concerning the impacts of mining is negative,” Krumenacher said. “Their concerns are based on real issues, but the science is intentionally ignored.”
He preached strategies for success, including joining professional associations; getting involved in the community; developing a strong technical team; and addressing concerns early.
Lear detailed some of the equipment and technical expertise that is required for a successful frac sand operation.
“The goal is to liberate individual silica particles, remove non-silica contaminants, liberate and remove clay impurities, remove non frac sand size fractions and break up clusters,” Lear said. “Depending on your deposit, you need the right kind of equipment.”
He spoke about single-stage frac sand plants; slurry pumps; cyclones; separators; hydrosizers; clarifiers; and other equipment designed to maximize production efficiencies and increase profitability.