A recent report in Houston Chronicle said the emerging sand mining industry in west Texas – virtually nonexistent a decade ago – includes seven mobile mines that save companies hundreds of thousands of dollars per well. Research firm Rystad Energy told the Chronicle west Texas now has 24 sand mines, including seven mobile, to take sand from desert dunes to nearby oil and gas wells because of the increase in hydraulic fracturing. Companies temporarily deploy mining equipment at sand deposits near drilling sites, skip the energy-intensive drying process at permanent facilities, and truck wet sand that dries naturally a few miles to drilling sites. Companies say it reduces emissions and helps overcome supply chain issues.
Rystad said operators in Permian Basin will use 66 million tons of sand this year – up from 51 million tons last year. Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy opened its first mobile sand mine in April about five miles from its wells in Delaware Basin in Loving County with Hi-Crush. It produces 2,200 tons of sand per day, and vice president John Raines told the Chronicle that Devon hopes to open more. He said it saves Devon $250,000 for each well fracked with sand from the mobile mine.