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Winona County Bans Frac Sand Mining

Winona County became the first county in Minnesota to pass a total ban on frac sand mining. Experts on both sides of the issue said Winona County is likely the first county in the nation to do so. The victory for environmentalists came after years of citizen activism against frac sand generally and a more than one-year-long campaign for this ban specifically. Ban supporters celebrated their achievement. Ban opponents promised to sue the county.

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Sand Demand Could Surpass Historical Peak Levels

In a recent investor presentation, Emerge Energy Services (EMES) said, “Recently revised estimates from Wall Street analysts indicate sand demand will surpass historical peak levels by 2017.”

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Sand Prices Boosted by Addition of Drill Rigs

Shale drillers have added 158 rigs since May, according to Baker Hughes Inc. At the same time, companies such as Chesapeake Energy Corp. and EOG Resources Inc. have been increasing their efficiency by cramming more and more sand into individual wells, aiming to extend their reach miles further. That’s boosted sand prices roughly 25 percent to about $24 a ton, according to IHS Inc.

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USGS Estimates Wolfcamp Shale is a Monster

The Wolfcamp shale play in the Midland Basin portion of Texas’ Permian Basin province contains an estimated mean of 20 billion barrels of oil, 16 trillion cu. ft. of associated natural gas, and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids, according to an assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). This estimate is for continuous (unconventional) oil, and consists of undiscovered, technically recoverable resources. 

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This Week’s Market Buzz

• The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) reached a deal to cut back on oil production by 1.2 million barrels per day to raise global prices. OPEC nations currently produce about 33.7 million barrels of oil per day. Under the deal, they’ll bring that down to 32.5 million barrels per day, with Saudi Arabia, Iraq, UAE and Kuwait making the biggest cuts. Global oil prices rose nearly 9 percent on the news, with Brent crude rising from $46 per barrel up to $51 per barrel.

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