North Dakota oil companies use a lot of sand in their fracing operations. The state’s Department of Mineral Resources puts that at 2,500 to 5,000 tons per well. And that demand is expected to increase.
As it is, companies import their sand by train from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois at some cost. North Dakota geologists are looking into the issue and are assessing whether locally sourced could be used for fracing. Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, said if it can, it “would be absolutely another game-changer for the Bakken.”
Sand is used to keep fractures made by the fracing process open so that oil moves from the rock formation to the wellbore.
Fred Anderson, a geologist with the North Dakota Geological Survey, said the state’s sand is near industry standards for fracing, although not as high in quality as other sources.
“We’re trying to test and characterize our sand resource so that industry can decide whether or not we have a usable alternative,” Anderson said.