The global air core drilling market is poised to grow at a robust pace during the forecast period (2016 - 2022) on account of increasing requirement for effective techniques for extraction in applications such as mines and oil and gas wells. Additionally, factors such as increasing energy demands, rising investments in exploration and production (E&P) activities and advancement in air core drilling technology are further expected to drive the market for air core drilling, globally.
Air core drilling is suitable for soft rock and soil formations that do not require heavy machineries to drill to the desired depth. This technology is used by mining companies as it provides instant switch between complementary drill bits, continuous sample returns and reduced times in moving between boreholes, which maintain the ore grade of the mineral samples. This process is more accurate than other conventional techniques, is preferred for providing drilled-cuttings faster and incurs minimal sample damages. However, these technologies are limited to mature geographic areas devoid of water and hydrogen sulfide zones.
The growing application of air core drilling in the commercial and industrial sectors, and the diminishing ore grades are expected to boost extensive mineral exploration and mining activities. However, the political economy, labor costs, access to land and environmental regulations are expected to negatively impact the global mining industry during the forecast period. Increasing number of mergers and acquisitions in the mining industry is poised to increase the number of global mineral exploration and mining projects during the forecast period.
In terms of application, the dust application creates the maximum demand in the global air core drilling market. This technology is used to reduce hydrostatic pressure in the wellbore and is widely used in mature sedimentary basins that have consolidated hard rock formations. Additionally, nitrogen membrane method is expected to exhibit the fastest growth, during the forecast period, driven by reduced operating costs, minimal chances of down hole fire and reduced transportation problems when compared to other cryogenic nitrogen drilling.
Geographically, North America has been the largest market in the global air core drilling market, in terms of value. The major factors fueling the growth of the North American market include technological advancements and growing applications of efficient drilling techniques for loose soil hydrocarbon regions. Additionally, the increasing energy requirements in the North American region, including the U.S., have pushed industry participants to explore unconventional reserves. Such trends are expected to spur the growth of air core drilling market in the region, during the forecast period.
Asia-Pacific is expected to witness the fastest growth rate in the global air core drilling market, in terms of value, during the forecast period, followed by Middle East and Africa. Upcoming E&P projects coupled with large unexplored hydrocarbon reserves, particularly in South-East Asia, are expected to propel the demand for air core drilling in the Asia-Pacific region, during the forecast period. On the other hand, large sand hydrocarbon reserves, especially in Nigeria and Egypt, are forecasted to foster the growth of air core drilling market in Middle East and Africa, during the forecast period.
The key players operating in the global air core drilling market include Schlumberger, Halliburton, Baker Hughes, Weatherford International Inc., Atlas Copco, Allis Chalmers and Archer Limited, among others.