Saudi Arabia Running out of Sand

saudi arabia peak sand crisis photo

al shaybah oil field, via

Sounds crazy, that's what the place is made of. Who would think that Saudi Arabia could be running out of sand? Yet the Kingdom has halted exports of the stuff, a major component of concrete, and it is causing problems in Bahrain and other countries that depend on imports of high quality Saudi sand.

Evidently the stuff is in the wrong place; Stuart Burns in MetalMiner reports that "Saudi Arabia has more sand than oil but unlike it's oil, the sand and gravel are predominantly in rather inaccessible areas and the cost of transport for such a comparatively low value product is uneconomically high." So the Saudis are keeping what they've got to themselves.

Who knows, might they do the same for oil when the time comes?

saudi arabia peak sand crisis photo lawrence of arabia

Lawrence of Arabia

Burns continues:

The material shortages have become so bad in the gulf region around Bahrain, that building work has had to slow for lack of material. Apparently steel and aluminum producers are reporting a drop in sales as projects are slowed and developers seek alternative supplies. Metal Bulletin has reported in a recent weekly news report that the lack of sand and gravel, coming on top of a recent ban on export of Saudi cement across the causeway to Bahrain, is adding to the woes of an already depressed gulf construction industry that the travails of Dubai will do nothing to improve.

In Bahrain they have started importing from the United Arab Emirates and are mixing it with their own marine sand. The head of the contractor's committee says:

"The quality of this will not be as good but we shall make do with it."

One would have thought that with construction in Dubai at a halt, there would have been more than enough cement and sand to go around.

More in Metalminer, and Gulf Daily News via Green Sheet