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On Track With Frac


Southern Ohio Sand Sets Up a System to Make Mountains of Material.

By Mark S. Kuhar

In the rolling hills of Ohio, there is an abundant supply of sand and gravel. The owners of Southern Ohio Sand, headquartered in Beaver, Ohio, chose that location to produce quality silica sand and gravel products for various applications.

  • Southern Ohio Sand was founded in 2006 by Jon Paglio, Ron Vaughn and Frank DeMilta. They began to produce sand for industrial and construction purposes, but they ultimately determined that their site gave them an edge in the frac industry for three reasons:
  • The area was rich with product.
  • The product was quite pure.
  • The central Ohio location made it ideal to transport the product to both the Midwest and East Coast.

"When we started up, we began to see an increase in activity in the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio," Paglio said. "We originally hoped frac sand would make up 10 percent of our production, but as we looked ahead, we determined it could be much more."

Setting Up Shop
Some of the first equipment at the plant was purchased through Reliable Asphalt Products. "I first started talking to Jon Paglio about four years ago," said Jim Grida, a sales rep for the company. "After looking at numerous plants around the country he made a decision on one and then the work started, from teardown to shipping, Southern Ohio Sand did all of the setup themselves. I helped them with the startup and adjusting, and since then we have provided them with other pieces of equipment. I can say that Jon has put together a top-notch facility."

In 2007, the partners initiated their plan to maximize frac sand production. "In the past, making frac sand was done by taking the wet product and putting it through a dryer, then some type of high frequency screen to help with the blinding," Paglio said. "But there was a need to increase the tons per hour produced. So as we began to set up our plant, we wanted to use some kind of water separation process."

The first step was to get in touch with McLanahan Corp., from which they bought a "Hydrosizer." According to McLanahan, when extremely sharp classification is needed to separate granular material by size, the Hydrosizer is comparable to screening but at only a fraction of the footprint and cost.

"For specific gravity separation, the Hydrosizer offers
the best, most efficient and cost-effective solution. Proven over a period of more than 30 years in applications as diverse as construction and specialty sand, aggregates, iron ore, phosphate, coal, mineral sand and many other ore concentrates, the Hydrosizer is the simple, robust and reliable way to maintain tight control over product size fractions," the company said.

"It actually floats the sand and you can peel off different grades," said Paglio. "It gets us to within 2.5 percent of the American Petroleum Institute (API) spec. From that process on, we produce multiple grades of wet product in different piles, and we can select which product we send to the dryer. Then we run it across just one bank of screen rather than multiples to keep the product in spec, and make sure there are no overs or unders. This allows us to produce up to 250 tph."

Power Production
Production at the plant begins with Volvo loaders feeding material over a Kolberg-Pioneer scalping screen, which removes oversize material and any tramp metal. The material is then conveyed to the plant's screening tower.

"We installed a large Deister screening operation and a couple of McLanahan classifiers," Paglio said. "With those in place, coupled with the Hydrosizer, we are able to produce multiple grades of frac sand." Water from the production process goes to a settling pond, and is recycled back into use.

As part of a recent expansion, Southern Ohio Sand decided to erect a new building to contain its drying processes and testing lab to ensure a clean, consistent and dry product.

The new building, which is 300 x 86 ft. with a height of 53 ft., encompasses two rotary dryers and screening as well as some storage. Bagging operations are also located inside this building. The company can bag sand and gravel from super sacking to 50-lb. bags.
Finished product is conveyed to storage silos where it is kept dry while waiting for loadout. "We have been very pleased with how the plant we set up has worked out for us," Paglio said.

Transportation Logistics
Producing frac sand is one thing, getting the product to market is another. "Our plant is in a rural area, as many are, so we truck material out of the plant," Paglio said. "We load trucks out, and serve a 600-mile radius, delivering either directly to the site where hydraulic fracturing is occurring, or to storage depots."

In some cases the company trucks material out to its rail head, which is about seven miles from its facility, where they have an off-loading unit. But they primarily deliver material by truck.

The company works closely with nearby towns on issues such as adequate roads and truck noise. "We sometimes run 100 truckloads a day, so you have to address the people in the neighborhood, and not stir the pot," Paglio said.

Southern Ohio Sand believes strongly in plant safety. It received an Industrial Minerals Association – North America (IMA-NA) safety award for 2011. The company was recognized in the Small Category and went 12,131 hours without a reportable injury. Company management was congratulated for this achievement during a Safety Recognition Luncheon which was held in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, April 26, 2012, in conjunction with the 2012 IMA-NA Spring Meeting.