- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 7, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Shipments by U.S. sand mines to oil drillers are expected to decline significantly this year as the once booming frack sand industry decelerates.

Industry leaders say low oil prices and reduced drilling in shale regions are cutting demand and forcing price cuts. U.S. Silica and Superior Silica Sands set production records in 2014, but that activity has slowed.

Wisconsin, with 63 sand mines, and Minnesota with six, are leading producers. Sand is used in hydraulic fracking, a process that injects sand, water and chemicals into shale to free oil and gas.

The Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/1E08In4 ) reports the number of U.S. rigs drilling for oil and gas fell last week for the 17th consecutive week to 1,028, which is about half the number operating in November 2011.

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Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.com

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