Sector News

Frac Sand

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  • EC adds lithium to critical raw materials list amid transition to 'green' economy

    Friday, 04 September 2020

    The European Commission unveiled an updated list of critical raw materials on Thursday September 3 that it aims to secure the supply of while avoiding over-dependence on third countries, alongside an action plan to create domestic supply chains for raw materials.

  • PRICING NOTICE: Open consultation on industrial minerals methodology

    Tuesday, 01 September 2020

    Fastmarkets is inviting feedback from the industry on its pricing methodology for its industrial minerals, as part of its annual methodology review process and compliance with the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) principles for PRAs.

  • Turkish currency comes under renewed pressure

    Monday, 10 August 2020

    The exchange rate for the Turkish lira has touched record lows against the US dollar, increasing the revenues for the Middle Eastern country’s mineral exporters.

  • Chinese barite exports slump on pandemic slowdown

    Tuesday, 28 July 2020

    Chinese barite exports in the first half of 2020 ran at less than half the pace they did in January-June 2019, reflecting low global drilling activity and the fact that India-origin material is more competitive.

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Market Brief

Based on the expanding amount of exploration taking place in both conventional oil and gas markets, as well as the burgeoning shale energy industry, the demand for oilfield minerals is expected to rise.


The increased call for minerals used during oilfield processes has caused price volatility over the past years – especially following the US shale gas boom, which took place from 2011 and is still having an im­pact on the market today.


Spikes in the price of barite (barytes), potash and silica sand (frac sand) over the last seven years have caused key buyers of raw materials – drilling fluid manufacturers such as Halliburton, Baker Hughes, Schlumberger and Weatherford – to take a hit of up to $160m in one year.


Freight costs, lack of suitable raw material supply, and China’s pro­duction domination have all been blamed for pricespikes seen in oil­field minerals, particularly barite and potash.


Elsewhere, rising demand for ceramic proppants derived from bauxite and kaolin has sparked a raft of plant expansions in the US.


The supply and demand situation has alsoincreased the call for drill­ing minerals such as bentonite and barite.


Volatility in the oilfield market will remain,and the only way to overcome the gap that may open up in the supply and demandchain is to keep a close eye on industry developments.

How are industrial minerals used in fracking?

  • Drilling mud which consists of bentonite with additives such as barite, calcium carbonate and graphite is used to lubricate the drill bit.

  • Fracking fluid which consists of silica sand (1.959%) and water (97.85%) and a chemical mix (0.5%) including organic phosphonate, diatomite, calcium chloride, sodium chloride, calcium carbonate and magnesium chloride is sent down a well to ‘prop’ open fissures in the shale rock