Barite Extraction Activities Forecast to Rise Owing to High Demand from Nuclear Industry

The burgeoning oil, gas, and mineral exploration and drilling activities across the globe have substantially enhanced the demand for barite. Barite is an important mineral required for the completion of the drilling process. The unique specific gravity (sp gr) of barite enables characteristics such as combating high pressure scenarios and restricting the surplus flow of liquid. As a result of the rising demand from drilling industries, manufacturers of barite are focusing on providing end users with high quality drilling barite.

According to a report published by Transparency Market Research (TMR), the global barite market is expected to expand at a 5.8% CAGR from 2015 to 2023. In 2014, the market was valued at US$1.11 bn and is likely to witness stable growth by rising to a valuation of US$1.84 bn by the end of 2023. North America dominated the global barite market in 2014 with a share of over 40%. The growth of the barite market in North America can be attributed to the significant rise in the oil and gas exploration activities in the region. North America is anticipated to maintain a lead until 2023 followed closely by Asia Pacific and Europe.

How is the application of barite expected to increase in future?

Barite has applications across various end-use industries. Specific features of barite such as insolubility in water and chemical inactivity qualify it as a potential mineral for the completion of manufacturing and drilling process. It is used as a weighting agent in the oil and gas industry due to its high specific gravity. Barite also has applications in the medical and commercial sectors owing to its use in the production of barium containing salts and compounds. It is a possible candidate for the preparation of barium meal, a diagnostic test used for the detection of anomalies of the esophagus and stomach.

To meet the mounting demand for barite from various end users, barite manufacturers are seeking opportunities for barite exploration in untapped regions. For instance, a leading drilling company in the U.K., M-I SWACO, recently started exploration and drilling activities in the Duntanlich orebody, the barite abundant region of the U.K. With the success of several drilling processes, the United Kingdom is expected to become self-sufficient in barite, which is a highly vital mineral for the oil and gas industry in the North Sea.

How are substitute minerals likely to impact the demand for barite?

Minerals such as ilmenite, hematite, celestite, iron ore, and itabirite are likely to restrain the growth of the global barite market over the next couple of years. These minerals have similar characteristics to barite and are more easily. As these minerals have a higher density in comparison to that of barite, they are being preferred as weighting agents by drilling companies. The increasing application of these minerals across several industries is likely to considerably hinder the demand for barite.

On which sector are manufacturers required to focus in order to extend the consumer base?

The ability of barite to absorb gamma rays enables its addition in concrete aggregate used in the construction of atomic reactors. Barite added concrete is also used as material to build shielding radiation and other nuclear devices, and is also used for medical purposes in which radiation therapy is involved. Thus, manufacturers of barite are likely to gain profitable opportunities from the rising application of barite in the nuclear and medical industries. In order to meet the demands arising from these industries, manufacturers are expanding their production units. 


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