With depleting onshore reserves, oil and gas companies are increasingly focusing on offshore areas. In offshore drilling, a wellbore is drilled below the seabed. Zonal isolation is one of the most critical steps in well completion and intervention activity. The oil or gas producing zone of the well is isolated from its surroundings to restrict the cross flow of gas, oil, and water. The global zonal isolation market is witnessing significant growth with the introduction of new technologies, especially for offshore exploration activities.
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Earlier, cement was filled between casings and well bore to provide zonal isolation throughout the life of the well. In the past couple of years, several chemical and mechanical techniques have been developed to prevent cross flow of gas, oil, or water between different formations. Adoption of any of these techniques depends on several parameters such as depth of well, type of producing zone (gas or oil), temperature of well bore, and depth of well.
Though Expensive, Chemical Zonal Isolation Techniques are more in Demand
In mechanical zonal isolation equipment such as packers, sliding sleeves, plugs, and perforated/slotted liners are deployed. Chemical zonal isolation techniques include the usage of monomer systems, bio polymers, polymer gels, elastomers, and others. It is interesting to note that even though chemical zonal isolation techniques are expensive than the mechanical ones, they hold a majority share in the market. Usually, the cost of zonal isolation varies according to types of zones and is about 2%-5% of the total well completion cost. As chemical zonal isolation techniques utilize various polymers derived from crude oil, the pricing of chemical zonal isolation is highly volatile.
Crude Oil Prices to Largely Affect Global Zonal Isolation Market
Since the start of this year, oil prices have ranged between US$27 and US$42 per barrel. The current price of crude oil is just a quarter of the 2008 peak price of crude oil at US$145 per barrel. Fluctuations in the global crude oil prices are expected to negatively affect the growth of the global zonal isolation market. However, the growing adoption of natural gas as an ideal replacement for high-emission fuels such as coal and oil has facilitated the market’s growth. In the U.S., natural gas obtained from shale has the potential to significantly address the country’s growing demand of energy. In fact, shale gas currently accounts for 16% of the total natural gas production in the U.S. The increasing exploration of shale gas reserves will boost the demand for zonal isolation in the near future.
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North America led Global Zonal Isolation Market in 2014
The key regions in the global zonal isolation market include Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Rest of the World. In 2014, North America was the largest region in the market owing to extensive shale gas exploration activities. However, in the coming years, Asia Pacific is anticipated to significantly contribute towards the growth of the market with increasing drilling activities and supporting regulations in countries such as India and China.