Sand is a key ingredient in the hydraulic fracturing process. A special kind of sand, referred to as crystalline sand, is injected into cracks made during fracturing and stays in the cracks, propping them open so the gas can continue to come out (which is why it’s called a “proppant”). More sand will be on the way to the Marcellus and Utica region due to a new agreement between U.S. Silica, the nation’s second-largest sand producer, and Canadian Pacific Railway (CP). CP will be the exclusive rail shipper for U.S. Silica’s new frack sand facility being constructed in Wisconsin.
From the CP press release announcing the exclusive deal with U.S. Silica:
U.S. Silica Holdings, Inc., today announced a multi-year agreement for the movement of frac sand from U.S. Silica’s newest mining and processing facility in Sparta, Wisconsin.
U.S. Silica is the second largest domestic producer of commercial silica, a specialized mineral that is a critical input into oil and gas shale production and various industrial and specialty products. The Company is building a new frac sand facility located on the CP’s rail line in Sparta, Wisconsin that will produce high quality Northern White sand for use in shale basins across the United States and Canada.
Under the agreement, CP will become the exclusive rail service provider at this facility for the movement of U.S. Silica’s frac sand to destination markets. The design of the Sparta facility will allow U.S. Silica to build unit trains of frac sand with a focus on shipments into the Bakken shale in North Dakota to support the area’s growing need for proppant. The facility will produce and ship three different grades of dry sand and is expected to be fully operational in the first quarter of 2013.
Bryan Shinn, U.S. Silica’s President and Chief Executive Officer, said the company is "very excited to partner with the Canadian Pacific to further enhance our extensive logistics capabilities. We plan to deliver unit trains of high quality frac sand into the Bakken shale and other basins throughout the U.S. and Canada. This new partnership will provide U.S. Silica greater access to critical, rapidly growing markets, and will significantly strengthen our overall offering."
"Canadian Pacific has proven expertise and has been serving the energy industry in North America for many years. We are pleased to continue to grow this important market through our partnership with U.S. Silica," said Jane O’Hagan, Canadian Pacific Executive Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer, who noted CP’s agreement with U.S. Silica is an important component of the railway’s growing energy strategy, which focuses not just on outbound crude oil, but also on the flow of input materials into shale and other energy developments."
"Our agreement with U.S. Silica leverages the strength of CP’s network through Wisconsin with service to key energy regions throughout North America" said O’Hagan. "We are pleased to be in a position to provide the capacity to our partners like U.S. Silica to respond to the strong growth in the energy-related markets."
Canadian Pacific is the only North American railroad to serve the Bakken Formation, the Alberta Industrial Heartland and the Marcellus Shale. In addition, CP is the only Class I railway to connect the energy hubs of the U.S. Midwest, Alberta and Saskatchewan to the Northeast U.S. Through its network to the Northeast U.S. and through the Kansas City gateway to the U.S. Gulf Coast, CP is able to partner with the energy industry to facilitate growth in moving oil and energy-related materials. Each year, CP moves hundreds of thousands of carloads of energy-related products, including crude oil, sulphur, fuels, diluents and materials key to the energy industry, such as pipe and frac sand.*
*Canadian Pacific Railway (Jun 22, 2012) – Canadian Pacific and U.S. Silica Holdings, Inc. announce multi-year agreement for the transport of frac sand