The number of oil and gas wells is rapidly rising in North America, with the increase in the exploration and production (E&P) activities. Following in the footsteps of the U.S., which is home almost 80% of the new wells in the region, Canada too is opening its shale reserves for commercial production.
Major oil and gas companies, including Royal Dutch Shell plc, BP plc, Chevron Corporation, and ConocoPhillips, are quickly getting the license to produce oil and gas from new wells. With the increase in E&P activities, the global low strength proppants market is predicted to reach $5,294.8 million by 2030, from $3,713.3 million in 2019, at a 9.8% CAGR between 2020 and 2030. This is because proppants help increase the production of gas and oil, by keeping the hydraulic fractures in the rock bed open.
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However, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been quite negative on the oil and gas sector. With a partial or complete lockdown on industrial activities and public transit imposed in numerous countries, in order to contain the virus, the demand for petroleum products has fallen sharply. Between December 31, 2019 and April 30, 2020, the trading price of crude oil fell from $61.0 to $18.8 per barrel, according to the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) Crude Futures.
Moreover, due to the low demand, a large number of onshore wells and offshore rigs have stopped production; compared to 2,073 rigs in January 2020, 1,514 rigs were operational in April 2020. This has severely ill-affected the demand for low strength proppants, but, with the ongoing research to find an effective antiviral and adoption of plasma therapy, the lockdown is predicted to be lifted gradually, thereby leading to the resumption of E&P activities.
Presently, the largest demand for such materials comes from the oil and gas industry of North America, and the situation is expected to remain the same till 2030. This is ascribed to the rising number of oil wells and increasing E&P activities for unconventional oil and gas in the region. In 2017, the U.S. housed 990,677 oil and gas wells, and the number is set to increase, with the rising E&P investments by BP plc, ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell plc,and Chevron Corporation. In addition, the focus of regional energy firms on tight gas and shale gas, primarily in the U.S., is surging.
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Though North America was home to only 13.3% of the global crude oil reserves and just 7.0%of the worldwide natural gas reserves in 2018, as per the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2019, it accounted for 20.7% crude oil and 26.2% natural gas production in the world, owing to its advanced technologies, such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Apart from advanced drilling methods and better frack designs, the use of proppants is also instrumental in driving the regional oil and gas production.
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