Company’s 115 Plant turns West Texas sand into high-quality, cost-effective fracking products for oil and gas customers
High-quality sand is one of the main components necessary for the hydraulic fracturing process. Until relatively recently, oil and gas companies in West Texas imported the material from as far away as Wisconsin, which came with a sizable price tag.
When High Roller Sand opened its 1,000-acre 115 Plant near Kermit, Texas, its products were immediately in demand. Every ton produced by the approximately 70-member staff has been spoken for. To meet customers’ needs, the plant operates 24 hours a day.
“About 90% of our sand goes to repeat customers,” indicated Roy Perez, plant manager. “Their loyalty stems from our ability to locally produce quality materials at an affordable price. Our process takes what was previously considered unsuitable and turns it into useable products that allow fracking companies to access oil and gas at a lower cost and higher profitability.”
Site preparation for High Roller Sand’s 115 Plant began about four years ago with excavation to build the processing facilities necessary to transform the sand. The first load went out in April of 2019.
“We wash the sand to remove any organics and clays, then dry and screen it to give customers the cleanliness, size and gradation they require for the fracking process,” said Jack Parmley, production superintendent. “In total, we produce about 4 million tons per year. Customers want two particular products: a 40/70 mesh hydraulic fracturing sand with a 60:40 grade split, which is a course gradation, and a 100 mesh, which is finer. We’re producing both and doing so in a very unique way from others in the area. Over the course of a few years, the idea went from ‘this will never work’ to ‘we can’t get enough.’ You really don’t hear much about importing sand anymore.”
Bill Scott, assistant plant manager, said that the location just outside of Kermit is ideal.
“It’s the heart of the Permian Basin,” explained Scott. “We’re centrally located to a tremendous amount of activity. If you think about it, this makes perfect sense. West Texas is a sand foundation, so figuring out how to turn the sand into a product oil and gas companies can use seemed inevitable. High Roller is pleased to be involved in the process, and we’re doing it in an eco-friendly way.”
Perez credits the staff with the ability to make it happen. “They are very skilled and committed to quality, and we have one of the lowest turnover rates in the Permian Basin — 90% of them have been with us since the first day. We believe that’s the top reason for our success, followed by our products, our processes and our tremendous ownership group.”
High Roller Sand is an extension of the High Roller Group, located in Center, Texas. The name High Roller came about after Terry Bailey and James Butler purchased rights to a northern white-tail deer named “High Roller” that was known as the largest white-tail buck in existence. The partners decided to name their white-tail breeding operation High Roller Whitetails. As they added new companies over the years, each one included High Roller in the name.
“This is a company brand that continues to be recognized throughout the country for its integrity and commitment to growth with total consideration and respect for the people and communities where they live and operate,” stated the High Roller Group. “High Roller Sand continues the valued and respected practices of quality, consistency and reliability in every aspect of our business.”
A fleet of Komatsu loaders
High Roller Sand immediately turned to Kirby-Smith Machinery Inc. (KSM) and Territory Manager Kevin Demel to build its equipment fleet for the 115 Plant. Demel and KSM had previously helped High Roller Sand with machinery purchases for another location.
“I can tell you unequivocally that Kevin and Kirby-Smith provide the best service in the Permian Basin,” stated Parmley. “They understand timely maintenance and repairs, and getting us parts as quickly as possible keeps downtime to a minimum, so they work hard to ensure we’re taken care of. That factored into our decision to buy Komatsu equipment, along with the fact that I had great experience with it from a previous place I worked at.
“We also like that scheduled maintenance on new machines is covered under Komatsu Care for 2,000 hours or three years, and the work is done by Kirby’s techs,” Parmley added. “We worked together on a contract to extend service to 10,000 hours. They track the machines through My Komatsu and call me when the services are due to schedule them. If I need to place a parts order, I do it through My Komatsu, which allows me to track it.”
The 115 Plant’s first machine was a Komatsu WA480 wheel loader it inherited from the previous location. Subsequently, High Roller Sand purchased four WA500s, followed by two WA600-8s with 10-yard buckets.
“Our production increased dramatically with the WA600s,” said Parmley. “The larger bucket makes keeping the hoppers full easier, and we can do that with two loaders as opposed to four. That efficiency allowed us to move two people back into the plant, which was a big help. We continue to use the WA500s for various tasks such as loading trucks as needed. They are great machines, so when we upgraded to the WA600s, we kept them because we knew based on our experience with the WA480, that they were durable and would last. The WA480 is really the perfect size for cleanup, especially when there is an occasional spill on the scale. It runs right down the middle and picks the materials up, which keeps us from having a bunch of guys out there with shovels.
“Across the board, the Komatsu loaders have been the most cost-effective machines we have ever used,” Parmley added. “We run them in some harsh conditions — sand, extreme heat — almost nonstop, 24 hours a day, with little to no issues.”
High Roller Sand relies on Takeuchi TL10V2 compact track loaders to clean up around conveyors and hoppers. “They run constantly with no issues,” said Parmley. “Additionally, we have a Takeuchi compact excavator that we use occasionally to clean out drainage ditches and for utility work. We’re pleased that Kirby-Smith carries that line too, as well as the JLG telehandler we run for moving various items around.”
Second parcel now open
About a year ago, High Roller Sand opened up its second parcel of land, which is comprised of 640 acres. Perez said that will extend the life of the plant for many years to come.
“Estimates show there are 40 million to 50 million tons of sand in that parcel,” Perez explained. “That puts us on the path to longevity. We expect to be here for a long time to come.”