The Story of Texas Sand

Since 2009, it has been estimated that hydraulic fracturing has tripled crude oil production in Texas, and this number continues to climb as our state is home to two of the most prolific basins in the world today – the Midland and Delaware Basins.1

The hydraulic fracturing process relies on high quality industrial sand, which is pumped into the cracked shale of the basins, holding the fissures open as oil is extracted. Prior to 2017, most sand was imported from Wisconsin and Illinois at an increased cost due to transportation costs. Today, however, much of this sand is being mined locally and much closer to the wellhead, eliminating that shipping cost and causing an economic boom in communities where sand mining companies have made their homes.

It is anticipated that there will be as many as 15 to 20 sand plants built and producing sand in 2019. At an approximate cost of $100 million each, as much as $2 billion will be spent on plant construction alone. Each of these sand plants will need approximately 60 to 80 employees, totaling nearly 1,600 good-paying, long-term job throughout rural Texas. Additionally, numerous indirect jobs are created by the industry, providing an even larger economic benefit to local areas and our state overall.

In an effort to improve traffic flow and safety, many sand mining companies are also helping directly improve the infrastructure of their communities. Since the expansion began, more than $26 million dollars has already been committed by sand companies for road projects in the Odessa Transportation.2

While the size of our industry’s growth may seem large to our local communities, the actual sand mining footprint is surprisingly small compared to other industries.  Depending on the capacity of the sand mine and the depth of its sand deposits, each mine should affect no more than 25 to 50 acres per year.

Bringing sand mining closer to the well production area significantly reduces the cost of the wells, making our Texas basins more competitive. This also provides more stability to the region, making the state more resilient, even during lower oil price environments.

In 2018, realizing that the industrial sand mining industry was growing at such a fast rate, members of the industry decided to come together to form the Industrial Sand Producers of Texas (ISPOT), an association committed to showcasing the benefits our industry brings to the state of Texas and our local communities. While we are all individual companies, we still have common goals in many areas, including with the environment, health, and safety. With strength in numbers, we hope to grow our association to include even more industrial sand miners and others related to our industry. Our industry stands ready to work together on issues that will ensure safe facilities, improved infrastructure, stronger communities and environmental stewardship — continuing to fuel the robust Texas oil and gas economy.

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1 Railroad Commission of Texas

2 Odessa American