Sand on the move: Frac sand being transported at
Preferred Sands plant in Woodbury, Minnesota
As North American hydrocarbon exploration shifts towards natural gas trapped in shale deposits, the importance of hydraulic fracturing sand (frac sand) has never been so pronounced. By 2018, it has been estimated that if hydraulic fracturing were eliminated, the US would suffer a 23% reduction in oil production, and a 57% reduction in natural gas production (Measuring the Economic and Energy Impacts of Proposals to Regulate Hydraulic Fracturing, IHS Global Insight, 2009).
Frac sand is a proppant used in oil and gas exploration and extraction, and represents silica sands second largest market by volume in the US after glassmaking. According to the latest estimates of Thomas Dolley, mineral commodity specialist at the US Geological Survey (USGS), frac sand could account for as much as 50% of the total industrial sand and gravel produced...