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Hydraulic Fracturing Techbook 2018

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66 | August 2018 | hartenergy.com HYDRAULIC FRACTURING: LOGISTICS Shale Bonanza Pinches Water and Sand B y the middle of 2018 Mammoth Energy Ser- vices expected to have completed all of its Wisconsin frack-sand expansion projects, taking total production to 4.4 million tons per year (mtpa). If all six of its pressure-pumping teams are in action—as they were at midyear with three in the Marcellus-Utica, two in the Scoop/Stack and one in the Permian—then they consume about half the new total sand production. Another 1.3 mtpa is sold to third parties on a contract basis, with the 700,000 tons/year moved on the spot market. The growth has been remarkable over just about 18 months. At the start of 2017 Mammoth had total sand production of just 700,000 tons/year, and only three pressure-pumping crews. Today six crews have 50,000 hp at their disposal. "We have differentiated ourselves from the pure- play pressure pumpers and sand suppliers," said Don Crist, director of investor relations for Mammoth. "We targeted sand as a necessary input, and we pride ourselves on security of supply. Last winter when there were serious logistics and supply problems with sand, all of our projects were kept supplied and completed their jobs on time." According to several sources, the primary problem with deliveries of Northern White sand over the winter was not so much severe weather, although that was a factor. Mostly it was a shortage of locomotives and crews, especially on the Canadian National Railway, which operates the Wisconsin Central Railroad. "That situation was better in June than it was in February or March," said Crist, "but it has not been fully resolved. There have also been delays with some of the in-basin mines coming into service in West Texas, but even when all that is resolved, there will still be the matter of availability of trucks and drivers, and congestion in the last mile." The shortage of truck drivers is a long-standing nationwide issue that has affected all segments of the road-freight sector. Crist said Mammoth expanded its last-mile operations in 2017, and noted that every driver hauling water or oil is one not available to move sand. Ironically, even with the driver shortage, there are traffic jams in the sparsely populated Permian that rival those in major metropolitan areas. "All the in-basin sand mines are within about 30 miles of each other," Crist said. "There are intersections where hundreds of trucks take hours to get through. And that is all trucks, sand, water, oil and rigs. The Scoop and Stack, closer to our base in Oklahoma City, is not so congested, but it is still a challenge to find trucks and drivers." Sand types are shifting as much as sources and logistics. Frack sand sizes run from coarse, 20/40 to 30/50, to finer 40/70, and then 100 mesh. When gel fractures were prevalent, the thicker matrix could support coarser sand. With the industry standard shifting to slick water, coarse grains won't stay in suspension. "For 100 mesh, it really doesn't matter if it is Northern White or in-basin, because it is basically just sandblasting the formation," Crist said. "Most 40/70 is Northern White, and that is most in demand for slick water. The 30/50 is also Northern White. That will work about half the time in slick water. In many of our jobs, about a quarter of the initial stage is 100 mesh to scour the formation and make the breaks. After that comes the 40/70, which is used to prop the formation open." In-basin mines and area water banks relieve some strains, but long-term concerns remain. By Gregory DL Morris Contributing Editor

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