Houston-area sand company files for IPO as industry prospers


By Mike D. Smith

Smart Sand, The Woodlands-based company that produces sand for hydraulic fracturing, plans to go public.

The company on Friday filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering, documents show.

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Smart Sand operates two white sand processing sites in Wisconsin with a combined 344 million tons of “proven recoverable” sand reserves. In its SEC filing, the company said the two sites give it a large reserve base of sand with good access to Class I railroads.

Company officials also stated they could likely expand capacity of their larger processing facility to meet increased demand, citing projections that demand for frac sand will grow 23 percent per year through 2020.

In hydraulic fracturing, drillers shoot millions of gallons of water into horizontal wells to fracture the rock and free the hydrocarbons. To keep those fractures open, they add “proppant” — sand.

Analysts at the investment firm Tudor Pickering Holt say they are “increasingly convinced” that U.S. drillers are going to use more sand in the near future. Sand use has already exploded, rising from 3 million pounds per well in 2013 to 5 million in 2014 to 8 million pounds per well now.

Smart Sand plans to raise up to $100 million during its IPO, according to Renaissance Capital.