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Regionally Quarried Sand—New Challenges for Proppant Suppliers

Released on July 4, 2017

Over the past few years, proppant users and traders began to experiment with quartz monocrystalline varieties offered by what we will refer to in this article as regional quarries. These regional or substitute materials differed greatly from what had become the decades-old norm in the proppant business: Northern White quartz-microcrystalline and Brady Brown quartzmicrocrystalline— hereafter referred to as traditional silica. It is important to note that some regionally-quarried sands can be defined as traditional silica. As the silica proppant industry suffered shortages during the last expansion of hydraulic fracturing—a shortage of supply at first, then later a soft silica market—users were forced to look further afield (albeit closer to the well) for suitable materials. Sands that previously would most likely have been deemed too fine or too graded, too irregularly shaped or not quite up to compressive strengths were making their way through the supply chain and reported by end users to be providing results that were “good enough” or “just as good”. Gas producers who were forced to find economic offsets were some of the first to attempt substitute sand with its lower pricing. Many reported the results for their particular needs were “even better”. All of this got the attention of the proppant supply chain to say the least...

 

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Submitted by Robert Ober of Robert Ober & Associates, LLC