The US frac sand market could see a period of undersupply once operators again ramp up horizontal well completions with what seems to be perpetually increasing proppant volumes per well during hydraulic fracturing, reports The Land Rig Newsletter.
Rapidly increasing demand for frac sand through 2014 stemming from expanded unconventional well drilling, drove silica sand miners to increase capacity. Not only was the number of wells being fracked rising, but the volume of proppant used per well saw significant increases as well. In 2008, the average fracked well used about 900 tons of frac sand. In 2010, the average amount of proppant used per well was near 2,300 tons. In 2014, the average horizontal well used 4,000–5,000 tons/well.
After oil prices collapsed, silica sand production capacity shriveled when shrinking demand forced mine sales and closures. Whether the frac sand industry can quickly ramp up again to accommodate a rebound in US unconventional oil and gas drilling and completion activity, as well as exponential growth in frac job intensity, remains to be seen.
Subscribe to RigData’s Land Rig Newsletter, the leading oil and gas industry publication focused on current and long-term trends impacting the land contract drilling sector.