Frack Sand Demand Leads to Booming Mines

Frack sand, used in hydraulic fracturing operations, is in high demand as shale gas and oil plays grow in the U.S. The Eagle Ford is one of the major hot spots for sand demand. A lot of the sand used in the South Texas play is brought in from Central Texas where sand is easy to mine and has favorable characteristics.  That means it’s uniform, relatively smooth, and round. Good sand can cost upwards of $100 per ton and an operation in the Eagle Ford can used more than 2,000 tons in one well. If you’re counting, that’s $200,000 for sand to complete one well.

It’s truly a boom and as many as 1,000 people are employed in McCulloch County in the sand mines alone. That doesn’t include truckers and other support needed to keep the mines running.  For reference, that is a couple hundred miles away from the closest Eagle Ford production. The Eagle Ford job machine continues on…….. 

Ron Jordan picked up a handful of damp sand as it cascaded off a broad conveyor belt, eventually bound for trucks or railcars that will take it to eager buyers in South Texas and around the country.

“This is the good stuff,” Jordan said as he fingered the golden-colored sand. “This is what everybody wants.” The sand felt more grainy than the sand on your average Texas beach.

It was beach sand, though, that two days earlier had been mined from sandstone formed from an ancient sea that lapped what was shoreline here more than 500 million years ago. Sand mining is booming in Central Texas, as drilling companies are demanding tons of it. Sand aids in getting the best production from wells drilled in the Eagle Ford shale of South Texas and other tight rock formations.

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Kenneth E. DuBose

Kenneth E. DuBose

Kenneth DuBose is the past President of Cheyenne Minerals Inc., an independent oil and gas operator. He began his energy industry career with ARCO Oil & Gas. Mr. DuBose then directed development of natural gas storage projects with Tejas Power Corp. He was a founding member of U.S. Minerals, (acquired by Torch Energy in 1999) a provider of internet based education for America’s mineral owners. Mr. DuBose holds a BS in Petroleum Engineering from Mississippi State University. He has served on various industry steering committees, non-profit boards, and is an active member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, the National Association of Royalty Owners, the American Association of Professional Landmen, as well as being a Registered Investment Advisor. He writes on topics of oil and gas investing, wealth management and personal finance, having appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Houston Business Journal, Financial Advisor and various radio and TV outlets.

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