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Texas Sand Mines Starting to Edge Out Midwestern Counterparts

Demand for sand is growing with increased Permian Basin drilling, but the West Texas sand market could become oversupplied.

Machines harvest frac sand at a mine in Kermit, Texas.

Texas mines that produce sand used in the hydraulic fracturing process are gaining ground against their Midwestern counterparts.

With oil and gas drillers increasingly using sand mined in Texas, analysts say prices for sand from states like Wisconsin are tumbling. That’s partly because it’s just cheaper and easier to use West Texas sand, even if it’s lesser quality.

Analyst Joseph Triepke, with Infill Thinking, has tracked the huge growth in Permian Basin sand mining. He says the risk is that there will be too many Texas mines, possibly as soon as the end of this year, and that they’ll start competing with each other.

“Right now they’re displacing disadvantaged sand from far away, tomorrow there’s a chance they could be displaced,” he says. “You’re entering this period where we do see the potential for kind of a knife fight.”

Some Texas mines could go out of business. One oil executive told The Wall Street Journal that oversupply will “educate the market” on which of the mines are built to last.

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Travis Bubenik

Travis Bubenik

Energy & Environment Reporter

Travis Bubenik reports on the tangled intersections of energy and the environment in Houston and across Texas. A Houston native and proud Longhorn, he returned to the Bayou City after serving as the Morning Edition Host & Reporter for Marfa Public Radio in Far West Texas. Bubenik was previously the...

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