Proppant demand to grow steadily through decade’s end

By |  October 1, 2015

Demand for proppants in North America is forecast to increase 7.6 percent annually through 2019 to 162 billion lbs., according to a Freedonia Group Inc. study. The Freedonia Group values the demand at $8.2 billion.

The market research firm says demand for proppants will decelerate from the extremely rapid growth posted between 2004 and 2014. Future gains will result primarily from increases in proppant loadings in unconventional well completions.

These and other trends are presented in “Proppants in North America,” the Freedonia Group’s study.

In addition to growth in unconventional drilling and completion activity, dramatic increases in the volume of proppants used per well have also supported rising proppant demand and a changing product mix.

“As oil and gas companies have gained experience in optimizing hydraulic fracturing design, they have increasingly shifted away from premium resin-coated sand and ceramic proppants toward using much larger volumes of raw frac sand,” says Jason Carnovale, a Freedonia Group analyst.

While a period of high and relatively stable oil prices between 2011 and 2014 led to growth in well completion and hydraulic fracturing activity in the United States and Canada, prices have fallen substantially since, the firm says. Prices are not expected to fully recover until after 2019, according to the Freedonia Group.

As a result, drilling activity in liquids rich unconventional plays will be constrained through 2019, says the market research firm.

A number of specific unconventional resource plays are expected to see significant future growth in well completions, the Freedonia Group adds. This will create above-average opportunities for proppants.

Colorado, North Dakota and Oklahoma – which are among the largest proppant markets in the U.S. – are expected to hold the best short-term prospects for volume demand growth, according to the firm. Texas and Pennsylvania are forecast to grow more slowly.

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Kevin Yanik

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Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or

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