Frack Sand Operation in SWPA is Leaking Sand into Nearby Community

frack sand

We spotted a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that concerns us. There is a transloading terminal in Stowe Township (Allegheny County, Pittsburgh area) that handles, among other things, frack sand. The facility has been there since 1969, so the neighbors can’t complain about stuff coming in by barge (or rail) and going back out by never-ending truck trips. You move to that area, you know what you’re getting. However, one thing the neighbors didn’t bargain for is sand–along roads, bridges, even inside on the furniture. Frack sand is super fine–very small–and acts like asbestos when it gets in your lungs. Not a good thing. OSHA has all sorts of rules for how to handle frack sand. And yet the sand in Stowe is leaking out of rail cars and trucks and ending up scattered throughout the nearby community of Stowe and McKees Rocks. The following story is written by Post-Gazette “reporter” Don Hopey–who is an anti-drilling propagandist. He spins whatever minor foible he can find in the shale industry into a major offense, a crime against the environment and humanity. However, in this case, the concerns Hopey writes about are warranted and should be addressed immediately…
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Former Ormet Site in OH Handles 3 Frac Sand Unit Trains at a Time

Long Ridge Energy Terminal

Back in 2014 MDN told you that the former Ormet aluminum plant in Hannibal (Monroe County), OH had been purchased out of bankruptcy by Niagara Worldwide and turned into the Center Port Transload Facility, with an emphasis on providing services for the Marcellus/Utica industry (see Center Port Transload Facility Already Up & Running in OH). In April 2017, we brought you news about plans to build a 485-megawatt Utica gas-fired electric plant at the Center Port location (see More on Gas-Fired Elec Plant Coming to Center Port Terminal). And in January we told you that most of the facility (not all) had changed hands again, selling to Fortress Transportation and Infrastructure for $30 million, changing the name to Long Ridge Energy Terminal (see Former Ormet Site in SE OH Changes Hands, Gas-Fired Plant Coming). We spotted a new announcement from Long Ridge (née Center Port) that says the facility has just completed a rail construction project that allows the terminal to accept and load/unload three different “unit trains” of frac sand–at the same time. A unit train is a train hauling all the same commodity, in this case frac sand. Typical unit trains are 70-100 cars long. With new loop tracks now in place, Long Ridge can handle way more frac sand than it previously could. And it’s a good thing, because demand for frac sand in the Utica/Marcellus is through the roof. Long Ridge is also a barge terminal, sitting on the Ohio River. In fact, Long Ridge is the only terminal in the M-U region with both unit train and barge transloading capabilities…
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Shale Support Buys 2 Frac Sand Mines in La. to Help Service M-U

Last September MDN told you that Shale Support Holdings, “a leading provider of frac sand and logistical solutions to the oil and gas proppant market” (headquartered in Texas, with an operations center in Mississippi), was stepping up its presence in the Marcellus/Utica region with a partnership with Tidewater Logistics (see Shale Support Holdings Expands M-U Frac Sand Business via Partnership). The partnership increases Shale Support’s operations in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Because Shale Support can ship sand direct from Mississippi, which is much closer than most other alternatives, the price for frac sand is cheaper for customers. Shale Support announced another important deal in May, to become the exclusive supplier for a major regional frac sand facility in Wysox (Bradford County), PA (see Shale Support Exclusive Frac Sand Supplier for NEPA Facility). Two weeks ago, in June, Shale Support made yet another announcement–they’ve just closed on a deal to buy two natural sand mines in Louisiana. The mines add another 2 million tons per year of frac sand (now totaling 5 million tons) that Shale Support will provide to plays like the Haynesville, Austin Chalk, Eagle Ford and (yes), to the Marcellus/Utica…
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Shale Support Exclusive Frac Sand Supplier for NEPA Facility

Last September MDN told you that Shale Support Holdings, “a leading provider of frac sand and logistical solutions to the oil and gas proppant market” (headquartered in Texas, with an operations center in Mississippi), was stepping up its presence in the Marcellus/Utica region with a partnership with Tidewater Logistics (see Shale Support Holdings Expands M-U Frac Sand Business via Partnership). The partnership increases Shale Support’s operations in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Because Shale Support can ship sand direct from Mississippi, which is much closer than most other alternatives, the price for frac sand is cheaper for customers. Shale Support has just announced another important deal, to become the exclusive supplier for a major regional frac sand facility in Wysox (Bradford County), PA…
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Antero Res. Considers Mining its Own Frac Sand to Cut Costs

If you hang around the business world long enough (as we have), you notice certain trends. One such trend from yesteryear is companies integrating up and down the supply chain. Like when a widget manufacturing company buys the company that supplies it the raw materials used to make the widgets. Example: a car manufacturer buys the company that supplies it with plastic dashboards–and then buys the chemical company that produces the plastic to make the dashboards. And then the same car company, on the other side, buys the credit union that makes the loans to buy their cars! The company becomes integrated. But then the pendulum swings and in recent years, the trend has been about dis-integrating–spinning things off into their own self-contained units. Better to focus on one thing and do it well, rather than be like GE and spread yourself around to multiple industries and specialties. In the oil and gas world, Chesapeake Energy once owned its own oilfield services company (Chesapeake Oilfield Services)–which they later sold. One thing you don’t hear much about is shale companies vertically integrating and buying suppliers. However, Antero Resources, one of the biggest and best drillers in the Marcellus/Utica, is actively considering such a move. Antero wants to buy its own frac sand company as a way of controlling costs. Is it a good idea, or a bad idea?…
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CIG Logistics Buys Sand Transload Terminal in WV from US Silica

CIG Logistics is a company in the business of moving sand used in fracking from point A to point B. CIG owns and operates a series of transloading terminals, along with trucks to deliver sand to well sites. A transloading terminal is a place where sand arrives via one form of transportation, say on a rail car, and leaves via another form of transportation, like a truck. U.S. Silica is the country’s largest sand producer. U.S. Silica also owns some of its own transloading terminals. CIG announced yesterday it has cut a deal to buy three U.S. Silica transloading facilities–two in Texas and one in the Marcellus, in Marshall County, West Virginia. CIG claims that with this deal they have become the “preferred transload provider to U.S. Silica” in the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford in Texas, and the Marcellus Shale via the facility in WV. Terms of the deal were not disclosed…
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Frac Sand Barge Facility Near Pittsburgh Gets $638K Grant to Expand

McKees Rocks barge facility

While we don’t (yet) have hard numbers for how many shale wells were drilled in the Marcellus/Utica in 2017 versus 2016 and 2015, we’re pretty sure the 2017 number went up–a lot. Why do we think so? Because frac sand use went through the roof in 2017. Yes, drillers are using more sand to frack each well, so the numbers could reflect drilling the same number of wells using more sand–but we don’t think that explains it all. Not this much sand. McKees Rocks Industrial Enterprises operates a barge/transloading facility on the Ohio River in McKees Rocks (Allegheny County), PA. Jim Lind, operator of the facility, says sand shipments soared 200% in 2017 over previous years. Put another way, sand shipments doubled–at just this one facility! Sand is barged in to the facility from the Midwest, then loaded onto trucks and rail cars for delivery to Marcellus/Utica well sites throughout the region. Business is good. The barge facility needs to expand. Pennsylvania recognizes the facility’s value to the shale industry, so the state has just made a $638,015 grant to allow McKees Rocks to handle more barges at the same time at the 100-acre facility. That’s good for the Marcellus/Utica, and it’s good for the regional Pittsburgh economy…
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New Federal Sand Dust Rules Affect NatGas Drillers This Year

One of the primary ingredients in fracking is sand–a special kind of very fine sand called silica. When silica gets airborne and into a person’s lungs, it’s not good news. Silica behaves like asbestos, with the potential to cause lung cancer. The shale industry is keenly aware of it and takes steps to ensure workers are not exposed. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) developed a new rule for respirable silica (tiny tiny sand) that will go into effect for the shale industry in June of this year. We have the details below…
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Dynacorp Energy & Energes Merge to Form EnerCorp Sand Solutions

Energes, an an oilfield services company providing flowback, well testing and sand management services, has just sold off its Oilfield Solutions subsidiary to Dynacorp, a Canadian designer and manufacturer sand filtration, sand cyclonic, and flowback equipment, for an undisclosed amount. The two private companies, both with a presence in the Marcellus/Utica region, are merging to form a new company: EnerCorp Sand Solutions. EnerCorp will be “a leading provider of sand management products and technologies for the oil and gas industry” according to the official announcement. Dynacorp, the company doing the buying, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intervale Capital, an energy services investment firm based in Houston, Texas. We previously wrote of another company snapped up by Intervale, back in June (see Pro Oil & Gas “Recapitalizes” with PE Firm Intervale Capital). Here’s the news of this “new” oilfield services player, with a big emphasis on sand…
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OH Sand Producer Fairmount Santrol Merging w/Unimin in $170M Deal

Fairmount Santrol, an Ohio-based sand producer that sells sand as a proppant for use in Utica and Marcellus Shale drilling, announced yesterday it has accepted an offer to sell itself to another sand company–Unimin, a subsidiary of Belgium-based SCR-Sibelco. Fairmount Santrol shareholders will get a $170 million payment and 35% ownership in the newly combined company. The new company will have revenues approaching $2 billion per year. Fairmount Santrol’s CEO, Jenniffer Deckard, is expected to become the CEO of the new company (the name of the new company has not yet been decided). However, make no mistake–Fairmount is selling itself. The board of directors for the new company will have 6 members picked by Unimim parent SCR-Sibelco and 4 members picked by Fairmount Santrol. The location of the headquarters is still up in the air. A lot of unknowns at this point. However, one thing that IS known is that this is a done deal…
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Anarchists Block Frac Sand Trains in Washington; Police Chief Complicit

Washington State is a strange place. Yes, the state has given us world-changing companies like Microsoft and Boeing. It’s also changed our coffee drinking habits by giving us Starbucks. But Washington State is also home to some seriously demented and dangerous people. We spotted a story in the Washington (DC) Post that confirms what MDN has been saying for years (not that we need confirming): anarchists are some of the core members of the anti-fossil fuel movement. An anarchist, in case you need a definition, is “a person who rebels against any authority, established order, or ruling power” (Merriam Webster). In other words, lawless. A law unto themselves. Gangs of bullies. Lord of the Flies. You get the picture. The WashPo story, using flowery and laudatory language, reports that a group of anarchists in Washington State have set up a tent village on top of railroad tracks that come out of the Port of Olympia. Ceramic proppants–artificial beads that are used in place of frac sand–are shipped to the Port and from there, loaded onto rail cars and hauled cross country, mostly to the Bakken Shale play in North Dakota, where they are used to frack shale wells. An encampment was set up on Nov. 17 to block those shipments and it’s still there–because local Police Chief Ronnie Roberts (hired to uphold the law), doesn’t like fracking and won’t arrest these whack jobs and eject them. That’s why we say Washington State is a strange place…
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Arkansas Frac Sand Getting Barged to Ohio for Marc/Utica Fracking

Click for larger version

Here’s something you don’t read about every day: frac sand being mined in Arkansas. Usually you read about sand being mined in Wisconsin or Illinois, or maybe in Oklahoma or even Texas. But we’ve never read about sand coming from Arkansas. Here’s something else you don’t read about every day: Sand from Arkansas is about to be barged up the Mississippi River, onto the Ohio River, and unloaded at a dock somewhere in Ohio. The sand, which will come from Select Sands, will be used for fracking Utica and Marcellus Shale wells. How cool is that?! Select Sands is headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada), but operates what appears to be their only mining operation (at least the only one we could find) in Arkansas. According to a company announcement, this is the first time the company has used a barge to transport frac sand. Judging from a recent slide deck on the company’s website, it appears to us this may be their very first order from the Marcellus/Utica region…
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Shale Support Holdings Expands M-U Frac Sand Business via Partnership

Shale Support Holdings, which says it is a leading provider of frac sand and logistical solutions to the oil and gas proppant market (headquartered in Texas, with an operations center in Mississippi), is stepping up its presence in the Marcellus/Utica region with a partnership with Tidewater Logistics. The partnership will increase Shale Support’s operations in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Because Shale Support can ship sand direct from Mississippi, which is much closer than most other alternatives, the price for frac sand will be cheaper for customers. Here’s the good news about a new partnership benefiting Marcellus/Utica drillers…
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Twin Eagle Sand Enters Marcellus/Utica with WV Transload Facility

Twin Eagle Resource Management, headquartered in Houston, TX, bills itself as a provider of wholesale energy and midstream services throughout North America. Twin Eagle also serves the upstream (drilling market) via a number of transloading facilities to ship and store frac sand. Currently Twin has five facilities, serving: Central Eagle Ford (Elmendorf, TX), South Eagle Ford (Laredo, TX), Powder River Basin (Douglas, WY), Permian Basin (Big Spring, TX), and DJ Basin (Evans, CO). You can now add a sixth facility–a frac sand transloading facility in Bridgeport, WV, to service the Marcellus/Utica region. Last week Twin Eagle Sand Logistics (Twin Eagle subsidiary) announced a deal to buy an existing frac sand terminal in Bridgeport from Process Transloading Bridgeport. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. “Transloading” is a simple concept. It means you ship the sand in via railroad, or barge, unload it, store it, and then load it onto trucks which haul it to well pads where it gets used to frack shale wells. Let’s give a hearty welcome to the latest entrant into the Marcellus/Utica supply chain! Here are the particulars of the Bridgeport facility…
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CONSOL Hits a Few Snags, Lowers Production Estimates for 2017

As part of a general announcement issued yesterday, CONSOL Energy provided an update on their best guesstimate (called “guidance” in the business) of how much natural gas production the company will achieve in 2017. The latest guidance reveals that production will be LOWER than previously thought. Earlier in the year CONSOL said they should see on the order of 420-440 billion cubic feet equivalent (Bcfe) of natural gas production this year. The number will be more like 405-415 Bcfe. Why the drop? Ceramic beads. When completing a well, a driller fracks the well with small charges, creating cracks (fractures) in the rock. Into those cracks the driller flows water with sand–or alternatively ceramic beads instead of sand. When the water washes out (or gets absorbed into the rock), the sand or ceramic beads stay in place, keeping the rock propped open so gas and oil can escape out into the well. That’s why sand and ceramic beads are called “proppant.” CONSOL, at least for some of its wells, uses ceramic beads. And according to yesterday’s announcement, completion designs using the beads is taking longer than they thought, slowing down progress on completing and bringing wells online. Hence the lower overall output for this year…
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Shale Drillers Using Less Frac Sand as Prices Soar

Necessity is the mother of invention. Over the past year or so we’ve chronicled the dramatic increase in the amount of sand used in fracking. Recently we told you that Chesapeake Energy drilled what we believe to be the highest-producing Marcellus well (so far), with an initial production of 61 million cubic feet per day of gas (see Chesapeake 2Q17: “Rambo” Marcellus Well Produces Record 61 MMcf/d). Chessy’s “Rambo” well used 32 million pounds of frac sand. The trend has been to increase the use of frac sand. The more sand, the better the result. Except now that’s changing. Frac sand prices have been skyrocketing. Sand is some 12% of the cost of drilling and fracking a well. Shale drillers are beginning to innovate ways to achieve the same high yield results, but using less sand. What are they using instead? Some use “chemical diverters” to spread the sand slurry more evenly. Some reduce the distance between fractures–“tight spacing.” The point is shale drillers are doing what they have to do (innovating) to stay profitable and keep drilling. And if that means using less sand in fracking, so be it…
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