A deposit of fracking sand in north-central North Dakota could be a boon to the state’s oil industry, the Grand Forks Herald reports.
The sand has been found in McHenry County, roughly 160 miles west of Grand Forks. Another has been found in Mercer County, northwest of Bismarck, North Dakota, Kallanish Energy finds.
Fred Anderson, a North Dakota Geological Survey geologist, told the Herald the sand could be a “game-changer” for the state. “The reduction in cost would be high,” Anderson said. “It’s a huge deal for the state of North Dakota.”
Asgard Resources, of Williston, North Dakota, has received a permit to dig sand in McHenry County, the auditor’s office there confirmed to the Herald. Asgard also applied for a permit to excavate sand in Mercer County, the Mercer County auditor’s office told the Herald.
The North Dakota Geological Survey began researching whether North Dakota sand could be used for fracking roughly a decade ago, and learned it was marginal, Anderson said. The North Dakota “windblown,” or quartz, sand contains minerals, so it typically is not the proppant sand preferred for fracking.
If oil companies can use North Dakota sand for fracking, it will mean they no longer must haul it in from other places, such as Minnesota and Wisconsin, Anderson said. The change could boost the margin for producers in western North Dakota.
Bakken completions can require roughly 4,000 to 5,000 tons of sand per well, the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources said. The sand can cost as much as $34 per ton, Anderson said.
Spencer Stone, vice president of business development for TracFrac Inc., told the Herald a more regional-sourced supply of sand could mean substantial savings for wells in the Bakken.
“Sand mined in North Dakota could reduce costs for new Bakken wells by $150,000 to $300,000,” Stone said. “It levels the footing between Bakken operators and its Permian counterparts, who are able to utilize sand mined in Texas.”
While the McHenry County sand has lower crush resistance than is optimal, sampling and testing work by the North Dakota Geological Survey, in conjunction with independent producer EOG Resources, showed deposits of wind-blown sand in the Hazen-Stanton area of Mercer County may be viable sources of proppant sand.
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