The searing heat of Abu Dhabi played host to the great and
the good of the Middle East oil and gas
business, who convened at the 15th Abu Dhabi
International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference for four days
of meeting, mingling, and much discussion this week.
Yours truly was in attendance, navigating ADIPECs huge
exhibition with clientele from all aspects of the oil and gas
Chief targets were of course the oilfield service companies with all the
usual suspects there in high profile, but especially
interesting were some new and emerging local oilfield players
keen to break into this regional growth market.
The event was possibly too universal in the oil and gas
space for specific oilfield mineral suppliers, but typically
that didnt stop a smattering of Chinese proppant suppliers peddling their wares and
the odd Indian barite (barytes) supplier in evidence
but I was still surprised there werent a few
And Ill tell you why.
The talk of the town was the keen pursuit of natural gas
reserves in the region, and in particular through
unconventional resources, which appeared to be on the agenda of
every oil and gas explorer and producer as well as the oilfield
services companies present.
This can only be good news for potential future market
demand for oilfield mineral suppliers working in the Middle
Already the market is very tight here for barite.
Saudi Aramco, the worlds largest oil company, on its own
demands some 700,000 tpa barite for its requirements.
But looking ahead, and with unconventional resources in
mind, it is especially those that are supplying hydraulic
fracturing operations that should take note so
were talking frac sand and ceramic proppants (thus the
Chinese present at ADIPEC, in advance as ever).
The thing is were at the early stages here. Actually,
amazing as it might seem, there is little, if any, fracking
going on in the region right now, apart from in certain regions
of Iraq, according to the dominant oilfield service player
This was echoed earlier in the year, when talking with
leading Saudi silica sand producers who assured me they could
produce frac sand, but as yet there was no domestic market for
So why bother?
Indeed, Adwan Chemicals, which makes the grade, was at the
time exporting frac sand to overseas markets.
This all looks set to change in the near-to-medium future.
Aramco is steaming ahead to focus on developing
unconventional gas resources in the region and is making no
bones about getting its staff up to speed on fracking
techniques and other innovations pioneered by US oilfield
experts by sending them over to the US to soak up the knowledge
for application back in the Kingdom.
Aramco has formed a new division to specifically target
unconventional gas resources, and its chief exploration
manager, Saleh M. Saleh, summed up the situation beautifully in
this months issue of Petroleum Economist:
This is a good time for companies to come to Saudi
Arabia. We are learning from the North American
experience...success is our only option, he said.
Salehs last point underlines the pressure now on Saudi
Arabia to secure new and large energy sources to meet its
soaring demand for power led by rising domestic, rather
than industrial, consumption, mainly in air conditioning.
Surely the time is ripe for oilfield mineral suppliers to
check out their resources and logistics for a new wave of
proppant demand in the Middle East. This will certainly be a
major discussion point at IMs upcoming
Oilfield Minerals Outlook: Middle East, Dubai,
Opportunities down the Danube
Proppant logistics also came up in conversation
with Austrian oil and gas explorer OMV,
busy fracking Romanias Black Sea offshore fields, but
also active in the Middle East.
A keen consumer of proppants for its Romanian operations,
exploration staff at OMV mused whether given the interest in
developing Poland and Romanias shale
gas (and other potential fields in central and eastern
Europe), potential frac sand (silica sand producers) and
ceramic proppant players (kaolin, bauxite producers) with
proximity to the Danube might not consider their excellent
logistical position to supply these new markets.
Check out the route of the mighty river, its highly
instructive, which reminds me that leading Bulgarian kaolin
producer, Kaolin JSC, was in attendance at this years Oilfield Minerals Outlook in Houston (which
IM is repeating next June).
Its possible to make a ceramic proppant from calcined
kaolin so a new ceramic proppant producer centrally
located in Bulgaria near the Danube? Now thats an idea.
Any silica sand producers around there as well?
Global Head of Research and Consultant Editor at Industrial
Minerals, previously he was Editor of IM
+44 20 7827 6444;