Select silica sands play a key role in production of oil and gas from US shale formations. Silica sand is the primary material used as proppants, or frac sand, in shale oil and gas production wells. Northern White sands, primarily from the north central US, have historically been considered high quality and value proppant sands for hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Recently, the Northern White sands have come under increasing competitive pressure from regional, “in-basin” sands.
The sand mine employee-hours and WTI price chart shows recent historical frac sand mine trends based on Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and Energy Information Agency (EIA) data. Using employee-hours as a proxy for production, a comparison of Northern White sand from Wisconsin and Minnesota with West Texas (regional sand for Permian Basin) shows a marked rise in West Texas produced sand displacing Northern White sand. Declines after 2018 are primarily due to declining oil prices as well as over capacity in both sand sources. Stay connected with BOYD to learn how the COVID 19 pandemic will effect sand demand and supply.