Frac Sand Company Hi-Crush Emerges from Bankruptcy

In July MDN told you that frac sand company Hi-Crush, which has customers in the Marcellus/Utica, had filed for bankruptcy (see Hi-Crush, Yet Another Frac Sand Co., Files for Ch. 11 Bankruptcy. In August we shared the news that four of Hi-Crush’s top executives got $3 million in bonuses just five days before the company declared bankruptcy (see Hi-Crush Execs Get Millions in Bonuses Days Before Ch. 11 Filing). The company has just emerged from Chapter 11 with a new board and new owners.
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Hi-Crush, Yet Another Frac Sand Co., Files for Ch. 11 Bankruptcy

Hi-Crush Inc., a frac sand company headquartered in Houston, TX, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Hi-Crush provides frac sand/proppants to a number of shale plays across the country, including the Marcellus/Utica. In its filing, the company seeks to convert $450 million of its $699 million of debt into equity (shares of stock), diluting existing shares for existing stockholders. As is typical, existing shareholders get the short end of the stick.
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CARBO Ceramics Files Prepackaged Bankruptcy, Selling to Wilks

Oil billionaire Dan Wilks is going discount shopping. He’s buying up companies in the oil and gas space that are struggling. One of them is CARBO Ceramics, a company that provides a ceramic alternative to sand for use as a proppant in hydraulic fracturing. Proppants, for those new to MDN, “prop open” the fractures created during the fracking process to allow natural gas and natural gas liquids (even oil) to drain out of shale. A special kind of sand called silica, mined mostly in the Midwest is the most prevalent proppant used. However, CARBO has an innovated a ceramic substance–tiny little beads–used as an alternative.
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Tiny Ceramic Beads Boost Utica Production, but Not Marcellus

We spotted an interesting article appearing in the American Oil & Gas Reporter about results from using tiny ceramic beads as a proppant in oil and gas wells in several shale plays. Typically sand is used as a proppant to “prop open” tiny fractures to allow oil and gas to escape from shale rock. Sometimes ceramic beads are used. The article is based on a paper delivered at the Society of Petroleum Engineers’ Hydraulic Fracturing Technical Conference & Exhibition, held Feb. 4-6 in The Woodlands, Texas. Of particular interest to us are the findings for the Utica and Marcellus. The “micropropped” Utica wells showed a marked increase in oil production, while no such increase in production happened in micropropped Marcellus wells.
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Northeast PA Rail Yard Expanding to Handle More Miss. Frac Sand

Frac sand

Good news for drillers in the Marcellus/Utica: You’re about to have access to even more frac sand than before. In May 2018 Shale Support Global Holdings signed a deal to become the exclusive provider of frac sand to the Shale Rail terminal located in Wysox (Bradford County), PA (see Shale Support Exclusive Frac Sand Supplier for NEPA Facility). Shale Support and Shale Rail have just signed an extension to keep working together, and Shale Rail announced it’s adding an extra new track in their Wysox rail yard, to increase capacity of incoming shipments.
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H&H Bends Over Backwards to Reduce SWPA Well Pad Truck Traffic

Frac sand truck

Shale driller Huntley & Huntley (H&H), headquartered in Monroeville (Allegheny County), PA, leases land and drills in the Pittsburgh suburbs. They’ve picked a tough place to do business. The company works hard to win over residents who live near their shale drilling projects. The latest example is what H&H is doing to reduce truck traffic in Murrysville (Westmoreland County), PA.
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Caught on Video: Frack Sand Train Goes Off Rails Near Scranton

Derailed train in Dickson City – click for larger version

Around noon yesterday, a train moving slowly, at 10 miles per hour, was hauling lumber and frack sand from Scranton to nearby Carbondale, when a video surveillance camera caught the train leaving the rails. Ten cars derailed, with three tipping over completely (spilling sand) and one teetering on the brink. The video, taken from a police station across the street, is amazing.
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Northeast PA Railroad Traffic Surges Due to Marcellus Shale

We love a good railroad story–always have, always will. And here’s a great railroad story. The freight trains in northeastern Pennsylvania will this year, once again, set a new record. Last year the Delaware-Lackawanna Railroad, which operates 85 miles of track in Lackawanna and Monroe counties, hauled 8,572 carloads. This year they will fly by that number, to a new record. Why? Mainly due to frack sand used by Linde Corp, which supplies sand to drillers in the region. Translation: Drilling picked up again in 2018 in northeastern PA.
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Chesapeake Signs Frac Sand Deal with Hi-Crush for Marcellus

Click for larger version

Hi-Crush Partners announced yesterday they’ve gotten Chesapeake Energy to sign a new, long-term frac sand supply agreement to buy Northern White frac sand to support Chessy’s completions program in the Marcellus (in Pennsylvania) and Powder River Basin (in Wyoming). Northern White sand comes from mines in Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota. But sand is sand, right? Why schlep sand all the way from Wisconsin (via rail) to Pennsylvania? Because sand is *not* just sand. Northern White has special properties that make it superior for fracking.
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Wisconsin Frac Sand Mines Increasingly Dependent on M-U

Some of the best frac sand to be found–the finest particles–come from Wisconsin sand mines. Once upon a time Wisconsin was the primary frac sand producing state, for both the northeast and the southwest. But then Texas oil frackers began experimenting with Texas sand and found they could use it. No, the Texas sand is not quite as fine (or good) as Wisconsin sand, but it works. And it’s cheap, because transportation costs are low. Shipping sand from Wisconsin to Texas by rail costs big bucks. The northeast is not blessed with its own sand mines for fracking, so we still depend on places like Wisconsin. And now, increasingly, Wisconsin depends on us.
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Shale Support Gets Loan to Buy 2 Frac Sand Mines to Service M-U

Earlier this week CrowdOut Capital announced they have arranged a private, non-bank loan for frack sand company Shale Support to fund “the acquisition of two sand mines, spanning over 1,000 acres that contain more than 100 million tons of recoverable high-grade frac sand, which are located near the prolific shale plays in the southeastern U.S.” No details on the amount of the loan nor the names/location of the sand mines were released. However, as we reported in early July, Shale Support announced a deal to buy two sand mines in Louisiana (see Shale Support Buys 2 Frac Sand Mines in La. to Help Service M-U). Last September MDN told you that Shale Support, 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 of this year, to become the exclusive supplier for a major regional frac sand facility in Bradford County, PA (see Shale Support Exclusive Frac Sand Supplier for NEPA Facility). While the CrowdOut announcement doesn’t say it, we believe the this loan will fund the two new Louisiana sand mines previously announced. Yes, some (most?) of the sand will go for drilling in the Haynesville and other plays in the region. But some of that sand will no doubt find its way to the Marcellus/Utica, hence our interest in Shale Support and how they finance their operations…
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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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