American Oil and Gas Reporter - August 2017 - 51

SpecialReport: Hydraulic Fracturing Technology
FIGURE 2
Proppant Delivery using Gravity-Fed Mobile
Containers (Left) versus Pneumatic System (Right)

trucking standby charges. Because the mobile containers
discharge sand onto a conveyor through a gravity-fed opening
in the container rather than through an air blower, these systems
are far quieter and stir far less dust than pneumatic sand discharge.
Moreover, since a significant volume of sand can be prestaged on the well site and empty containers on the conveyor
system can be replaced quickly by a forklift, systems with
high-capacity conveyors can deliver sand more quickly to the
wellhead than a typical arrangement with multiple sand kings
feeding a T-belt. A single frac crew recently pumped almost
9.3 million pounds of sand in a 24-hour period, a throughput
feat unheard of with legacy pneumatic systems and quite
possibly a daily record for a single frac crew.
Because trucking standby charges are minimized and flatbed
hauling is typically more competitively priced than pneumatic
transports or custom trailers, the cost per pound-mile to deliver
sand can be significantly cheaper. Compared with the cost of
legacy pneumatic sand hauling, mobile containers save money,
reduce truck traffic, and are cleaner and quieter. In many cases,
in fact, a pumping service company can stack any sand kings
and pneumatic trailers it owns and recover enough cost savings
through lower-cost trucking of mobile containers to more than
compensate for the depreciation on entire fleets of older stacked
sand moving equipment.
Figure 2 shows pneumatic delivery without dust control
(right) compared with gravity-fed mobile containers (left). Both
photos were taken during pumping operations. The graph at
bottom right shows measured exposures by the same industrial
hygienist during frac operations with pneumatic transfer
equipment and during a mobile container operation. The 2018
OSHA standard is shown in the dashed line.
The Way Forward

If frac sand intensity continues to grow and the number of
lateral feet to be stimulated continues to increase, the domestic
industry likely will require an "all of the above" solution to the
proppant supply chain.

Given their legacy market share and availability, pneumatics
will remain in use, albeit with more stringent dust capture requirements to meet the new OSHA regulations. They will be
most effective in remote areas where noise and truck traffic
concerns are less of an issue than in more urbanized and
populated areas. On-site silo storage can be particularly effective
during the first few days of a large frac operation and are
generally able to deliver large amounts of proppant to the
blender if they can be replenished efficiently. Mobile containers
will fill the remaining void to ensure that last-mile logistics do
not become a major pinch-point in the supply chain.
Other technologies are being employed to assist in the
overall proppant supply chain in addition to unit train-capable
mines and transload facilities, which have proven far more
efficient than manifest shipments of partial trains that must be
broken up during the journey. Technologies such as tracking
shipments on rails, and now even on trucks carrying the proppant
to the well site, provide visibility into the "just-in-time" delivery
of proppants so that a frac crew always knows how much
proppant volume is stored on site and how many truckloads are
in transit from a given terminal (along with their expected
arrival times). This allows for a more efficient staging of supply
to eliminate truck traffic backups and supply shortages.
This is being accomplished with friendly smart phone applications connected to cloud-based databases, reducing the amount
of time a crew member spends calling dispatchers, logistics
partners, truckers and terminals to track proppant shipments.
The ideal technology is a combination of Amazon Prime for
shipment ordering and tracking, Uber for selecting optimum
carriers and drivers based on U.S. Department of Transportation
ratings, weight permits and current location, plus Google Maps
for route optimization.
r

KEVIN
FISHER

Kevin Fisher is chief executive officer of Denver-based
PropX LLC, which provides last-mile proppant delivery solutions. Before joining the company in 2016, he served as
president of Liberty Oilfield Services and as executive vice
president of business development at Flotek Industries.
Fisher began his career in 1979 with Halliburton, and
served for 14 years as a logging engineer, field supervisor,
log analyst, U.S. sales manager and global technical marketing manager. He joined ProTechnics in 1993 as director
of sales and marketing, and moved to Pinnacle in 2000, ultimately serving as chief executive officer. He has a B.S. in
natural science and physics from Cameron University and
is a graduate of Harvard Business School.
AUGUST 2017 51



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