American Oil and Gas Reporter - February 2018 - 62

SpecialReport: Advancing Shale Science
radius of core Eagle Ford activity and a
seven-hour ride by rails to Midland.
"The mine had been producing sand
for the building and sports markets. We
immediately converted it to frac sand and
began building a new facility with a capacity
of 4 million tons a year. It should be operating by May," he updates. "The sand reserves consist of 40/70- and 100-mesh."
Already one of the largest northern
white sand producers with five mines offering a combined annual capacity of 7.2
million tons, the San Antonio site expands
Superior's Texas footprint, adding to an
existing "native brown" sand mine near
Kosse, as well as regional transload and
distribution facilities throughout West
and South Texas.
As with West Texas sand, the brown
sand produced at San Antonio does not
have the properties of high-purity quartz
northern white, but it meets API specifications for all grades, according to Shearer.
"Operator interest has been very strong.
We expect to soon have all of the mine's
capacity contracted," he reports.

Shearer says expectations for proppant
demand in the Eagle Ford are growing
almost by the day. "The picture looks
very good for 2018. We have customers
adding rigs and frac crews in the Eagle
Ford that were not part of their plans
only three months ago," he relates. "Eagle
Ford economics are strong in their own
right, but with services getting so tight in
the Permian, some operators with assets
in both plays are taking the opportunity
to shift activity to the Eagle Ford."
Even with Eagle Ford demand on the
rise, Shearer says sand from the San Antonio plant will find its way into the Permian thanks to on-site rail access to the
Union Pacific mainline, providing low
transportation costs for the short haul
northwest. "It may sound surprising, but
modeling shows that sand from San Antonio can be delivered by rail into the
Delaware Basin at a lower cost than sand
trucked from some West Texas mines,"
he reveals.
Within the Permian, Superior Silica
Sands has opened a new transload terminal

near Big Lake-its sixth West Texas terminal.
The 98-acre facility is on the Texas Pacifico
Railroad with connections to major regional
rail lines. The Big Lake terminal commenced operations last July, but Shearer
says expansions are already under way.
"The in-basin mines are going to do
very well, especially the early movers in
opening West Texas mines. But we think
northern white will hold serve in the Permian and demand will remain strong,"
Shearer offers. "Not only are operators
telling us they intend to continue using
northern white, but multiple companies
have signed long-term take-or-pay agreements for northern white deliveries at
Big Lake. We expect to be bringing dual
unit trains of northern white into Big
Lake for a long time to come."
Shearer says hybrid designs that combine finer-mesh West Texas brown with
northern white eventually will become
common. "A growing number of operators
are using 100-mesh and feathering in
coarser 40/70 or even 30/50-mesh sands.
The market always is fluctuating, but

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