Monday, July 31, 2017

Sand mining growth in Texas

A recent Houston Chronicle report explains that booming Permian Basin oil production in Texas is fueling demand for frac sand. It claims that the "largest wells now consume up to 25,000 tons" of sand, or 50 million pounds each, up from 1,500 tons several years ago. More sand has typically meant more productivity when a well is fracked.

Availability of sand, however, is temporarily limited. Due to high transportation costs, companies such as Fairmount Santrol, Hi-Crush, Smart Sand, Preferred Sand, U.S. Silica, and Emerge Energy -- all active in recent years in western Wisconsin -- are opening new mines or expanding existing operations in Texas.

Although "northern white sand" from Wisconsin is considered to be higher quality, "Texas brown sand" is "cheaper and closer."

Energy companies such as Halliburton also claim they are "developing injection chemicals that can help increase the oil flow from wells as opposed to simply blasting more sand."

The report quotes industry analysts, however, who believe that fracking will still require increasing amounts of sand.

See Jordan Blum, "Has fracking reached peak sand?," Houston Chronicle, July 25, 2017.

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