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Barite Market Overview
The major trend being witnessed in the global barite market is increased investments by companies to boost the exploration and production of the mineral (barite). Owing to the large-scale application of the mineral in various industries, a large number of market players engaged in the processing of the mineral are focusing on expanding their production capacity. Thus, investments by these companies are resulting in the exploration of new mines, upgradation of existing mines, development and expansion of production facilities, and geographical expansion in new markets.
Based on grade, the market has been categorized into barite of specific gravity (Sp. Gr.) up to 3.9, 4.0–4.3, and above 4.3. Different grades of the mineral have different applications. The 4.0–4.3 Sp. Gr. category held a significant share in the barite market during the historical period. This category of the mineral is considered suitable for use as a weighting agent for different chemicals in the oil and gas industry. Other grades of barite are used in paints and coatings, and plastic and rubber formulations.
On the basis of application, the barite market has been categorized into drilling mud, pharmaceuticals, and rubber and plastics. The mineral is essentially used as a weighting agent in drilling fluids during oil and gas exploration activities. This can be mainly ascribed to the mineral’s higher density in addition to lower tendency to absorb oil. Moreover, the mineral is used as key filler agent in the formulation of paints, coatings, and rubber due to its high specific density.
On the basis of region, the barite market has been classified into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East and Africa. Among all the regions, the market demand for the mineral was the highest in North America during the historical period. This can be mainly attributed to the fact that oil and gas exploration activities (primarily, shale gas discovery) are on the rise in the U.S. Barite, which is mainly used as a weighting agent in the drilling of oil and gas wells, is thus expected to continue witnessing increased demand from the regional oil and gas industry in the coming years.
Barite Market Dynamics
The major factor driving the growth of the barite market is the rising demand for oil and gas across the world. Due to the increasing energy demand, conventional oil and gas resources are being used up and, therefore, depleting at a fast pace. Thus, in order to meet the ever-increasing demand for energy, major oil companies are shifting their focus toward the exploration of unconventional sources of energy, such as shale oil, shale gas, tight oil, tight gas, and coal bed methane, which involves the use of barite-based weighting agents.
This shift toward unconventional resources has primarily been witnessed in the U.S., in recent years, with the shale gas boom. Thus, the increasing exploration and production activities for the recovery of unconventional hydrocarbon sources are expected to result in increased demand for weighting agents made up of barite in the near future.
Major restraints identified in the barite market are the fluctuation in oil prices and the requirement for high capital for the exploration of oil wells. Over the past few years, the prices of oil have declined sharply, thereby eroding the profitability of oil companies. Moreover, political uncertainty in major oil-producing countries, such as Russia, Venezuela, and Iran, is adding to the woes of oil and gas companies, which are now wary of inducing fresh capital to expand their production capacity. The growing uncertainty is resulting in the reduced demand for barite-based weighting agents in the industry, which, in turn, is hindering the market growth.
The barite market is expected to witness significant growth in emerging oil-producing regions, particularly Africa and the Pacific Ocean. These regions have vast unexplored reserves of oil and gas, which are sufficient to meet the growing energy demand. The untapped oil reserves in these regions, therefore, offer lucrative opportunities to the players manufacturing barite-based weighting agents used in the oil and gas industry.
Barite Market Competitive Landscape
The barite industry is highly consolidated in nature, as few players control the production of the mineral. Some of the major companies operating in the global barite market are Mil-Spec Industries Corporation, Milwhite Inc., International Earth Products LLC, Seaforth Mineral & Ore Co. Inc., Ashapura Minechem Ltd., and Kaomin Industries.
The study provides the historical as well the forecast market size data for various countries, including the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, the U.K., Italy, Spain, Japan, China, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa.