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Hydraulic Fracturing Techbook 2018

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EPmag.com | August 2018 | 67 HYDRAULIC FRACTURING: LOGISTICS Laterals doubled, stages halved In pressure pumping Crist noted that as lateral lengths have doubled, the average length of stages has diminished by more than half from a norm of 400 ft to 500 ft per stage, to 150 ft to 200 ft per stage. As recently as 2015 a big frack would have been considered 270,000 lb of sand per stage. Today the norm is twice that, 500,000 lb or 550,000 lb of sand per stage. Anything much beyond that now counts as a big frack. Typical pressures, however, have been little changed, although they vary by basin. In the Scoop/ Stack typical pressures run 7,000 psi to 10,000 psi, to as much as 12,000 psi, with deeper formations requir- ing greater pressure. The Utica generally requires high pressure, 11,000 psi to 12,000 psi. There is not really an upper limit to pressure, Crist explained, only a matter of cost versus return. Pressure pumpers use a manifold, called a missile, to equalize pressure across a battery of pumps and the fluid downhole. Mammoth tends to use a 20-port missile, with 18 ports in active service and two for flexibility. It is uncommon for a sector to see broad growth and a plethora of new entries, along with consolida- tion at the same time. But that is what 2018 looks like in the North American frack sand business. The most notable combination was completed June 1, when two of the larger suppliers, Unimin and Fairmont Santrol combined, with the new entity now called Covia. A month before U.S. Silica bought EP Minerals. Most of those companies have their production concentrated in and around the northern Midwest, which has led to long supply chains and some logistics problems getting that sand to the Permian and Eagle Ford. As a result, quite a few in-basin mines have been coming into service. Some of the big companies are involved, but many of the new pits are ventures, and most have experienced delays in coming into service. The in-basin trend is expanding to other shale plays, said Todd Bush, founder of consultancy Ener- gent Group. "We are tracking eight mines being devel- oped in the Eagle Ford, with more expected. We are tracking nine in Oklahoma, with more expected." He added that U.S. Silica and Covia already have mines in Oklahoma, but that those are not as close to the most active drilling areas of the Scoop/Stack. In effect the boom in new sand operations is akin to growth in other sectors of the industry, upstream and midstream. The majors certainly could fund new facilities, and some have. But in general the big boys in all segments let the venture-capital folks take the lead, take the lumps and then buy into the survivors. The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese. "In the next 12 to 18 months we will see a host of consolidation," said Bush. "The in-basin mines that are being built now are likely to have shorter ramp-up periods than the ones in the Permian, but there are still delays to be expected. Even mines that were active have had delays in expansions. That will continue to be a challenge but we do expect it to get smoother." The Taylor Sand subsidiary processing facility is in Taylor, Wisc. (Photo courtesy of Mammoth Energy Services)

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