New shale tech: mobile resin coated proppant plant in Permian

By Luke Geiver | February 12, 2018

The oilfield technology group of Hexion Inc. has great timing. The oil and gas arm of the greater chemical product developer recently unveiled a mobile resin-coated proppant manufacturing facility. Complete with a lab and silo storage options, the unit has a relatively small footprint and can be placed anywhere along the logistics line from the transload facility to the field.

Jerry Kurinsky, senior vice president and general manager for Hexion’s OTG, said the unconventional oil and gas industry is shifting its view towards the long-term development of its wells, making the flexible go-anywhere system well-suited for the needs of industry. The shift puts a greater emphasis on resin-coated proppants. Resin-coated proppants hold-up under downhole pressure better than untreated sand. The treated proppant also prevents flowback issues, Kurinsky said. Since mid-2016, the number of wells being completed with treated proppant has been growing. “The primary benefit of resin-coated proppant is to prevent flowback. When proppant is coated the grains bond together and form a pack that doesn’t flow back into the well,” he said. Sometimes, when fractures start to close the pressure shears off untreated sand which reduces the permeability and the ability of oil to flow properly.

Hexion’s answer to all of that is the Voyager, an in-basin option to create better proppant. The first version capable of proppant treatment and coating has been deployed in the Permian Basin. Kurinsky said the push for in-basin sand in the Permian made the decision on where to place the first Voyager easy. “One of the big costs with proppant transport and resin costs is linked to transportation,” he said. “Being able to put the coating capacity where the proppant is already traveling helps reduce logistics costs.”

The system can treat nearly an entire well’s worth of sand in roughly two days if the system isn’t already working to treat other sand. Silos on site store the sand and a lab next to the treatment facility is used to ensure the quality of the outgoing sand. Feedback on the system has been good to date, Kurinsky said, and the company is already working on its second unit to meet customer demands.

Compared to a traditional coating facility, the Voyager requires less personnel. Local sand mines have liked the idea of the mobile treatment option and service companies have said they would like to integrate it into their own supply chains.