TECHNOLOGY company LWP Technologies has reported positive results from the ongoing fly-ash test work being undertaken at the company’s Brisbane-based pilot plant.

LWP’s research and development (R&D) team has been testing Queensland-sourced fly-ash at the pilot plant with laboratory results validating LWP’s path to commercialising cost effective, fly-ash based proppants for use in oil and gas hydraulic fracturing.

To date, LWP has been focused on competing in the ceramic proppants market, however, the ability to deliver a product and compete on price with imported mined frack sand gives the company access to a large portion of the proppants market not previously envisaged, it said.

The focus is on developing proppants using minimal bauxite to compete in Australian markets where mined frack sand is often imported, LWP said.

The high transport and logistics costs of importing frack sand to Australia from the United States provides an opportunity for an LWP licensee to manufacture and sell a product at a similar price point to mined frac sand.

Further, LWP said the more that proppants are handled during the transportation process, the more they degrade, which may result in the proppants received at the unconventional oil and gas well bearing little resemblance to the proppants that left the mine gate.

These proppants also may contain more than the 10 per cent fines specified as the maximum allowable in the API and ISO standards.

Potential end users have shown interest in being able to obtain pristine, spherical proppants that conform to the API and ISO standards, provided they are available at a price point that was competitive with mined frac sand, the company said.

LWP said its primary objectives for its R&D team were to formulate a financial model to evaluate whether LWP proppants are able to be manufactured at a price point to compete with imported mined sand proppants.

Research concluded that the financial model indicates proppants made from Australian fly-ash are able to be locally produced for less than the transportation and handling costs of importing frack sand proppants from the USA.

A key focus for LWP was to optimise the proppant mix design to minimise bauxite required to achieve a minimum 6,000 Psi proppant.

LWP said 6,000 Psi is significantly higher in compressive strength than most mined frac sand proppants delivered to Australian unconventional oil and gas wells.

In-house test results according to LWP confirm this objective has been exceeded.

Determining the maximum compressive strength ceramic proppants achievable using Australian fly-ash with 10% bauxite or less in the mix design was another key aspect of the company’s testing.

LWP’s R&D team is confident that given further time for optimisation, the proppants produced in the pilot plant will achieve even higher compressive strength proppants.

LWP’s chairman Siegfried Konig was pleased with the test work in Brisbane.

“The fact that the pilot plant can produce a proppant of compressive strength of above 6,000 Psi is clear and further validation of our technology. We are confident of improving these results as test work continues.”

“The unconventional oil and gas industry is aggressively assessing technology that delivers lower finding and development costs for hydraulic fractured horizontal and vertical wells.”

Mr Konig said while the US remains the biggest market, interested parties from a number of countries are assessing the company’s fly-ash based proppants.

“We continue to negotiate with a range of parties and are encouraged by the growing interest which are at various stages of negotiation.”