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Just Add Water: Why US Shale’s Next Big Supply-Chain Revolution Is Wet Sand

Source: PropX.
New wet-sand systems such as the one shown here may be the next big cost-cutting step for the unconventional sand sector. By eliminating the drying step, US operators can save up to $10 per ton of sand.

Sand is mined. It is washed. It is dried. Then it gets wet again.

Such is the unassuming life cycle of most every grain of sand ever pumped down a horizontal well along with millions of gallons of water and into the freshly opened fractures of a tight-rock formation in the US.

But what if the sand never had to be dried?

To start with, the unconventional sector could save tens or hundreds of millions of dollars a year, simply by cutting out the capital-intensive drying process.

That might mean mines of the future could be made small enough to follow operators as they sail slowly across their vast acreages.

Wet sand also lends itself to safer and more regulatory-friendly worksites, an important consideration given that more-stringent air-quality standards are coming into effect in the US next year.

A wet-sand revolution may also represent a major boon for the industrywide effort to reduce CO2 emissions—making each horizontal well completed with wet sand a bit greener than one that used dry sand.

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Just Add Water: Why US Shale’s Next Big Supply-Chain Revolution Is Wet Sand

Trent Jacobs, JPT Digital Editor

01 December 2020

Volume: 72 | Issue: 12

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