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Source of in basin sand saves oil companies money

Published: Jul. 27, 2020 at 9:15 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Usable oil sands have been found in ND and can cut down some of the costs that oil companies are facing at a time when money is getting tight.

North Dakota geologists have found usable sand in the dunes of Mercer and McHenry counties, but this isn’t for laying on at the beach.

Oil producers need this specialized sand for the fracking process. It needs to have a high percentage of quartz, and this material has up to 80% of the mineral.

“It’s encouraging that the sands that we’ve been investigating are favorable for use as propant sand,” said Fred Anderson, NDGS.

The fracking process uses the sand to prop open fractures in order to get oil out. This will cut down on costs, because it’s locally produced.

Most of the sand used today is imported from Ottawa, which can get pricey.

“The Bakken is going to struggle to come back with COVID and all of the collapse of oil demand across the globe, and anything that will save some money will be good for this industry,” said Kari Cutting, North Dakota Petroleum Council VP.

Last fall, the first batch of North Dakota sand went into the ground. Geologists hope it’s a sign of things to come.

“We have appreciable amounts of sand with good quality and good mineralogical character that could supply thousands of wells over the lifetime of the Bakken,” said Anderson.

Anderson says companies will likely mix the North Dakota sand with Ottawa white, which is up to 99% quartz, to get better bang for their buck.

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