Shale Support hires more employees with expansion

Published 7:00 am Friday, April 13, 2018

Shale Support, a local proppant producer, recently announced installation of a new dryer at the Picayune processing plant, which will not only more than double production capacity but also add a slew of new jobs to the area.

According to previous coverage, proppant is a material, usually sand, used in the frac mining process. This sand is injected into a mine after the initial drilling to help gas and oil flow more freely through rock fissures created in the fracking process. To work effectively, proppant sand must be thoroughly sorted and dried, which is where companies such as Shale Support come into play.

Shale Support mines and sells a product called Delta Pearl proppant.

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According to Shale Support’s website, Delta Pearl is a white proppant popular for its low turbidity and its reputation as being, “one of the cleanest proppants on the market today.”

Turning mined sand into Delta Pearl in part requires the use of a specialized industrial dryer. To expand production and capacity, Shale Support recently purchased a new dryer. According to a Shale Support press release, this has allowed the company to increase its annual capacity by 2 million tons, raising yearly production to a total of 3 million tons.

President and co-founder Jeff Bartlam, said the expansion was a long-term goal. Executives began planning in March 2017, but it was not until the beginning of this year that final approval was given and the dryer was installed. Bartlam said while the dryer was a relatively large investment, the investment will allow Shale Support to provide more services to its clients.

HSE and Quality Control Director Scotti Bayman, said the new dryer is a fluid bed dryer, which is more cost-effective and easier to maintain than the rotary dryer alternative. The way sand is processed within a fluid bed dryer is very eco-friendly, and Bayman said there are no chemicals of any kind involved in the process. Instead, the only byproducts include water vapor from the drying process and dust particles, which are disposed off-site.

Bayman said while both of the company’s dryers are fluid beds, the new dryer incorporates new technology, which will make the systems easier to control and help the company cut costs while functioning at peak performance.

Bayman said executives at Shale Support are currently considering the potential for expanding even further, and are discussing the possibility of purchasing a third dryer.

“We’re constantly thinking about expanding,” Bayman said.

Bartlam said as a part of this expansion, the company has been able to hire new employees, including 50 direct hires and 15 to 20 indirect hires. While that is just the immediate effect of the expansion, Bartlam said those numbers will likely rise in the future. Bartlam said he hopes by providing local jobs, this expansion will help the local economy and surrounding communities.

Bartlam said he wanted to express his thanks to community leaders in Pearl River County, Hancock County and Picayune, for being helpful, cooperative, and playing a large role in helping the company move forward.

“We’re excited to be a part of this community. They have been a big part of our success,” Bartlam said.