U.S. proppant companies look toward innovation in a tough market

Sand heaps
Source: DollarPhotoClub

The low commodity prices have decimated the proppant industry – so buoyant just a year ago. Nowadays, the E&P companies are cutting costs and often are looking toward cheaper proppants such as brown sand rather than more expensive options. However not everybody is willing to compromise on quality, Acknowledging that, the bigger proppant companies like Farimount Santrol, U.S. Silica Holdings, and Preferred Sands are betting on innovation and increased performance rather than price-cutting.

At the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE) on Monday, Fairmount Santrol announced the company’s self-suspending proppant technology in initial field trials and resin-coated sand are continuing to reduce the cost per barrel of oil equivalent (BOE) while producing more oil and gas.

On the first day of the conference, the company is presenting a technical paper, Self-Suspending Proppant Transport Technology Increases Stimulated Reservoir Volume. The paper highlights how this proppant and fluid system maximizes the effective fracture half-length more efficiently than slickwater and crosslinked gel-based fluids, which damage the proppant pack and formation. Applying self-suspending proppant, some operators in initial field trials are recording hydrocarbon production increases of greater than 50% within 6 months.

In the Bakken formation, PowerProp® precured resin-coated sand in 3 horizontal wells increased average production 67% after 7 months based on better conductivity compared with a competitor’s ceramic proppant in 2 horizontal wells.

In the Permian Basin’s Wolfberry Play, OptiProp G2® curable resin-coated sand recorded approximately $4.3 million greater well NPV in 14 horizontal wells after 9 months compared with 15 other horizontal wells completed with a competitor’s resin-coated sand, a competitor’s ceramic proppant, and frac sand wells. OptiProp curable resin-coated sand eliminated proppant flowback and embedment to maintain superior fracture width.

In the Permian Basin’s Wolfberry Play, Super LC® curable resin-coated sand increased average production approximately 460% in 6 vertical wells after 9 months by setting in the fractures to form a tough proppant pack, ensuring proppant flowback prevention, compared with 8 vertical wells completed with frac sand.

“We’re continuing to document compelling well performance that supports completions with resin-coated sand and self-suspending proppant,” said Nick Johnson, vice president of Marketing. “These performance examples underscore the value of choosing innovative proppant technology manufactured to the highest industry standards.”

Meanwhile, Fairmount’s competition, U.S. Silica is not far behind with their innovative solution InnoProp Python RCS, a new high-performance resin coated proppant designed to increase the production of oil and gas wells, and Preferred Sands is expanding its MultiPRO service with FloPRO PTT, which also significantly reduces the cost per BOE.

FloPRO PTT combines proprietary proppant transport technology with a long-lasting hydrophobic coating designed to cost-effectively maximize well performance by increasing the propped frac volume and reducing sand settling experienced during slickwater fracs. FloPRO™’s hydrophobic coating is designed to remain on the proppant after transfer, improving water flowback, and providing a cleaner proppant pack to increase oil mobility and enhance the formation’s relative permeability to hydrocarbons.

FloPRO™ field tests have been successfully completed in the Mississippi Lime Formation with Gore Nitrogen Pumping Service, a well service operator headquartered in Oklahoma. During the field tests, the low-density FloPRO™ proppant decreased pumping times by approximately 20% while the coating’s dust prevention technology provided a clean and safe working environment for employees on-site.

“In today’s market, we are always looking for ways to minimize costs and increase production, FloPRO™ provides an exciting new proppant technology at a competitive price,” said Gary Gore, president and CEO, Gore Nitrogen Pumping Service.

“With the pressures of today’s oil and gas pricing environment, completion engineers are seeking economical means to increase well performance without sacrificing quality or utilizing less superior products. U.S. Silica has a long history of producing and delivering high-quality proppants and InnoProp® Python RCS is no exception,” said Don Weinheimer, vice president and general manager of U.S. Silica’s Oil and Gas division.

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