Fracking sand mining in West Texas is reducing the cost of shale wells
One of the U.S. oil industry's biggest bottlenecks in West Texas will soon clear up dramatically as new sand mines open in the oil-rich Permian Basin.This is yet another way that shale producers are becoming more efficient and more competitive with OPEC. It will also make the Permian wells more competitive with other shale plays within the US.
Sand suppliers like U.S. Silica and Fairmount Santrol plan to build several local mines in the region over the next 18 months, with a combined annual output of roughly 55 million tons of sand, which is a critical ingredient in the slurry that frackers fire underground to snap dense oil-bearing rock formations.
For many U.S. drillers, the construction of these West Texas sand mines would eliminate the need for expensive rail transportation from white sand mines in Wisconsin, shedding up to 40 percent of the cost of getting sand to fracking sites scattered across the Permian, according to oil field service company Halliburton and consultancy IHS Markit.