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Proppant Providers Launch Technologies to Improve Output, Reduce Costs

Three North American proppant providers, Fairmount Santrol, U.S. Silica Holdings Inc. and Preferred Sands, said Monday technology discoveries are helping each of them to reduce the cost of drilling wells while still producing more oil and gas.

The operators introduced innovations at the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition in Houston.

Ohio-based Fairmount, one of the largest sand and resin-coated sand (RCS) providers in the U.S. onshore, has launched a self-suspending proppant technology. Researchers highlighted in a technical paper how the proppant and fluid system has maximized the effective fracture half-length more efficiently than slickwater and cross-linked gel-based fluids, which damage the proppant pack and formation.

"Applying self-suspending proppant, some operators in initial field trials are recording hydrocarbon production increases of greater than 50% within six months," Fairmount noted.

Fairmount said its PowerProp pre-cured RCS was tested in three horizontal wells in the Bakken Shale, which "increased average production 67% after seven months" versus comparisons with competitors. In the Permian Basin's Wolfberry play, the OptiProp G2 curable RCS also recorded higher well net present value in 14 horizontal wells after nine months. In addition, the Super LC curable RCS increased average output in the Wolfberry by 460% in six vertical wells after nine months.

"We're continuing to document compelling well performance that supports completions with resin-coated sand and self-suspending proppant," said Fairmount Vice President of Marketing Nick Johnson.

U.S. Silica introduced InnoProp Python RCS, also designed to increase production. InnoProp uses a proprietary white sand formula available in all mesh sizes used in today’s fracture designs.

"With the  pressures of today's oil and gas pricing environment, completion engineers are seeking economical means to increase well performance without sacrificing quality or utilizing  less superior products,” said U.S. Silica Vice President Don Weinheimer.

Radnor, PA-based Preferred Sands has fracture sand processing plants in Nebraska, Minnesota, Arizona and Wisconsin. Its innovation is an expansion to its flagship MultiPRO service, FloPRO PTT, which is designed to enhance proppant distribution and increase production. FloPRO uses proppant transport technology with a hydrophobic coating that is designed to remain on the proppant after transfer. In tests, the technology has improved water flowback and increased oil mobility -- enhancing a formation's relative permeability to hydrocarbons.

"In today's challenging marketplace we developed FloPRO to provide proppant transport associated with a gelled or cross-linked fluid without unreliable breakers and the associated gel damage or cost," said Preferred Sands CEO Michael O'Neill.

Field tests have been completed in the Mississippian Lime formation with Gore Nitrogen Pumping Service. During the field tests, the proppant decreased pumping times by 20%, the company said.

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