Santrol opens $5 million research center in Sugar Land

Santrol announced the opening of its $5 million technology center in Sugar Land this week, saying the move from its former space in Fresno will allow it to expand its work on proppants used in hydraulic fracturing.

Santrol — the name is a hybrid of “sand” and “control” — was founded in 1976 to produce resin-coated sand.

It now sells sand, resin-coated sand and resin-coated ceramic proppant, among other products.

The new space will allow the company to do primary research in Sugar Land, close to many of its customers, said Nick Johnson, director of marketing for Santrol.

Santrol’s manufacturing facilities are in Oklahoma and Illinois. It’s sand mines are in Illinois and Wisconsin, he said.

Scott Greenbauer, product manager for Santrol, said the new space was designed around new equipment for the research.

Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing allow producers to pull oil and natural gas from dense rock formations by pushing a mix of chemicals and millions of gallons of water, mixed with proppant — a term used to describe sand, resin-coated sand or tiny ceramic beads — deep underground to break up rock and release the hydrocarbons trapped inside.

The sand or ceramic proppant keeps the cracks in the rock open, allowing the oil or gas to flow into the well.

Santrol has about 50 employees in the Houston area and about 750 globally.