Drilling Good For Sand Outfits

AKRON, Ohio (AP) – The boom in drilling for natural gas trapped in layers of shale has been good news for a handful of Ohio companies that supply the type of sand needed for such drilling.

Rob Sidley’s family-owned company in Thompson in northeast Ohio processes sand that is perfect for the drilling pro-cess because it’s nearly 100 percent quartz as well as round, hard and water resistant.

It flows like liquid and can survive heavy pressures underground.

Companies like Sidley’s have a valuable commodity since 6,000 to 8,000 tons of sand are needed to drill one well. A decade ago, such sand sold for about $35 a ton, compared to $60 to $80 a ton today.

The process for releasing gas in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations blasts thousands of gallons of sand- and chemical-laced water into the shale, a process known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

Sands suitable for fracking are found only in three counties, Geauga, Knox and Ross.

Most Ohio sands are too soft, the wrong shape or too prone to react with water and chemicals.

Forty percent of industrial sand production in the United States in 2010 went to hydraulic fracturing, according to geological survey estimates. Most fracking sands come from Arkansas, Illinois, Minnesota, Texas and Wisconsin.