If ever in need of good material for a bet at the bar, try this:
How many pounds of sand do you think are pumped in US frac jobs every second?
The correct answer is 7,000.
That’s somewhere between three and four TONS of sand per SECOND.
I’m still reeling from dodging sand trucks while in the Permian Basin a couple weeks ago. In a region with 18-wheelers stacked cheek to cheek on the highways and county roads, sand trucks dominate truck traffic heading out of Midland and Odessa. While waiting in this traffic, I did a little math that you can use in an additional bar bet:
The chart below is amount of time (in seconds) between one sand truck departing for a frac job and the next.
"A sand truck heads out to the wellsite every ___ seconds."
That’s right: In the Permian Basin a loaded sand truck heads out to a frac job every 13 seconds. In the Rocky Mountains, a loaded sand truck departs every 87 seconds. And that would be day and night, everyday, weekdays, weekends, Thanksgivings…
We see three main takeaways in this:
First, that’s a lot of truck drivers. Right now growth in the Permian is restricted due to lack of truck drivers.
Second, that’s a lot of sand. With the advent of sand mines in West Texas coming on stream, there will be plenty of sand. If these in-basin sand mines hadn’t come on stream, the industry would have run short of this critical material.
Third, that’s a logistical nightmare. Big as Texas might be, there are only so many roads and so many intersections. The efficiency of the industry is already being negatively impacted by logistical challenges.
One more thing: Although capital is available and equipment is available, the inflow of people is slowing. Want more people to show up? Labor costs will have to rise. And rise a lot.