Company eyes Texas-New Mexico fracking sand transport system

LOVING, N.M. (AP) — A company is seeking to build a multi-mile conveyor belt system that could bring sand for hydraulic fracturing from West Texas into southeast New Mexico.

The Atlas Sand Company wants to erect a 16.5-mile (10.4 kilometer) covered conveyor belt system to carry the sand from an offloading facility in Loving County, Texas, to a proposed 140-acre (56.6 hectare) loadout facility near Loving, New Mexico, the Carlsbad Current-Argus reports.

The company is seeking a permanent, 70-foot-wide (21.3-meter-wide) right of way across an area managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The project was intended to reduce truck traffic in the area, the main method of transporting sand to well sites.

The conveyor system could reduce the number of miles driven by sand-hauling trucks by about 47%, or 25 million miles (40.2 million kilometers), according to the Bureau of Land Management.

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“The project objective is to carry sand into New Mexico for use in hydraulic fracturing operations, by means other than heavy vehicle trucking, the current method to transport sand in New Mexico,” the agency said in a statement.

Atlas’ sand facility in Kermit, Texas, went into full capacity in 2018, producing about 11,000 tons per day, and about 4 million tons annually.

The facility served up to 500 trucks per day.

Fracking is used to break up underground shale rock by pumping water and sand underground so that oil and gas can be extracted.

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Each shale well uses millions of pounds of sand or other components for the fracking process.

“There is so much positive going on out in West Texas right now, and we’re very happy to be doing our part to add to the fantastic economic growth taking place in the Permian Basin,” said Atlas Chairman Ben Brigham.

Another facility in Monahans, Texas, was opened by Atlas in October 2018. It also was expected to produce 4 million tons per year of fracking sand when at full capacity.

“Much like what we saw at Atlas Kermit, we expect this facility to ramp to full production capacity very quickly, due to the efficiencies and redundancies that we designed into the plant,” said Atlas Chief Operations Officer Hunter Wallace.

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Information from: Carlsbad Current-Argus,