UK Frac Sand Resources

Mitchell, Clive ORCID: 2014 UK Frac Sand Resources. [Lecture] In: Extractive Industry Geology (EIG) conference, St Andrews, UK, 12-13 June 2014. (Unpublished)

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Although still just a glimmer in the gas man’s eye, the prospect of shale gas development in the UK has many companies thinking about the industrial minerals it will require. Chief amongst these is silica sand which is used as a ‘proppant’ in the hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’, of shales to help release the gas. The UK has large resources of sand and sandstone, of which only a small proportion have the necessary technical properties that classify them as ‘silica sand’. Silica sand is high purity quartz sand that is used for glass production, as foundry sand, in horticulture, leisure and other industrial uses. When used as a proppant to enhance oil and gas recovery it is commonly known as ‘frac sand’. The UK is virtually self-sufficient in meeting its silica sand needs and extracts approximately 4 million tonnes per year from 40 quarries. The resources are varied but most production comes from Carboniferous age sandstones in central Scotland, early Cretaceous marine sands in Norfolk and glaciofluvial sands in Cheshire. As there is currently no production of frac sand in the UK, and the prospect of shale gas recovery becoming a real possibility, it is timely to consider where ‘frac sand’ could be produced in the UK. Will the supply of silica sand meet demand? Will it compete with other applications for silica sand? This presentation will consider those silica sand resources in the UK that may be suitable for ‘frac sand’ production. It will draw parallels with other industrial applications, notably foundry sand, which shares some common technical requirements such as particle shape and size distribution.

Item Type: Publication - Conference Item (Lecture)
Additional Keywords: silica sand; shale gas; fracking; proppant; hydraulic fracturing
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 18 Jun 2014 15:15 +0 (UTC)

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