Frack sand suppliers adding scale, new tracking capabilities

By North American Shale magazine staff | February 09, 2018

Frack sand suppliers are not sticking to the status quo. As operators continue to push the known limits of sand placed per-lateral-foot and suppliers reimagine ways to offer more economical and efficient proppant supply networks, source mine locations are morphing and technology used to track shipments is increasing.

The merger of Unimin Corp. and Fairmount Santrol has created the largest proppant and sand supplier in the U.S. The recently merged entity now has more than 45 million tons of annual production capacity with a presence in every major U.S. shale basin. Matthew LeBaron, chairman of the Fairmount Santrol board, said the merger has come at an opportune time in the industry.

Unimin’s team felt the new joint effort matched its plan to blanket the Permian with sand mines and proppant locations. At the end of the year, there could be up to four operating mines in Texas run by the merged group.

Jenniffer Deckard, president and CEO of the new entity, said frack sand customers are asking for more from suppliers in both scale and efficiencies at a time when demand is rapidly growing.

Alfonso Olvera knows how great the demand on frack sand supplies has been and continues to be. In 2010, Olvera was featured in Inc. Magazine’s Coolest College Startups of the Year story. In late 2017, proppant supplier and transload facility operator Solaris Oilfield Infrastructure purchased Olvera’s company Railtronix. The company designed and created by Olvera helps to provide operators and others with sophisticated information of the inventory levels and tracking of proppant. The information set provided from Railtronix gives updates on railcars, warehouse inventory, railcar originations, railcar maintenance schedules, status of shipments and other data.

Solaris, which is less than five years old as a company and went public in 2017, will combine the new data with its own software. Olvera has become the Senior Vice President of Technology with a goal of lowering the cost of delivered proppant to operators in the Eagle Ford, Permian and SCOOP/STACK plays by minimizing downtime and inefficiency along the route from the mine to the wellsite storage center.