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Fracking Sand Shortage Leads To New Texas Sand Mines

A resurgence in oil and gas drilling is underway in Texas, but drillers are running short of sand. It’s a certain grade of sand that’s needed, and most of it comes from Minnesota and Wisconsin. Because of the shortages, companies are now mining West Texas sand

Energy analysts Evercore said the sand shortage is a temporary blip before new mines open in West Texas. Steve Swanson is with Northern Industrial Sands in Wayzata, Minnesota.

“Yes, there currently is. We’re running out of certain gradations. Sand predominantly comes in four sizes, and the finest two sizes are consistently running into shortage.”

A close-up of the “20/40” mix of sand preferred in fracking.

Most fracking sand comes from the fine-grain “northern white” sand from Minnesota and Wisconsin, but demand and longer travel distance has led to more Texas sand mines. The amount of sand per well has surged in the past decade because of deeper and longer wells.

“An average well that was fracked would use maybe 500 or 1,000 tons of sand. Now we are constantly pushing five to ten thousand tons, and that is causing a shortage on the two finest grades of sand.”

Swanson said the best fracking sand is clean, round and strong, for propping up the micro fissures of a fracked well.

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