Plug-n-perf is the most common technique and accounts for more than 85% share of the hydraulic fracturing market in which composite frac plugs and balls are the most preferred choices. The global composite frac plugs and balls market is likely to experience an excellent CAGR over the next five years to reach US$ 2,837.1 million in 2024. Rebounding crude oil prices; recovering rigs count, especially of North America; increasing share of hydraulically fractured oil & gas in the USA; increasing share of horizontal wells drilling in the USA; increasing average lateral length of wells; and increasing average number of frac stages are some of the major factors that are driving the demand for frac plugs and balls.
Composite frac plugs and balls are designed to provide zonal isolation of the wellbore between multistage stimulation treatments during the hydraulic fracturing. These composite balls and plugs are made from glass fiber with epoxy or phenolic resin and are easier to mill out than metal plugs and balls. They can withstand higher pressures and temperatures than traditional plastic and dissolvable salt balls. Frac plugs are generally in the range from 4.5 to 5.5 inches in diameter and 22 to 30 inches in length, whereas frac balls typically measure from 1.0 to 5.75 inches in diameter. A single wellbore requires 10 to 40 multi-part frac plugs to pressurize and perforate multiple oil and gas producing layers, also known as stages.
Insights based on technology
Hydraulic fracturing is considered to be the most promising technology for oil & gas production, where composite frac plugs and balls have a proven track record of more than three decades. The market for composite frac plugs and balls is highly dependent on the hydraulic fracturing activity which in turn, is dependent on the volatility of crude oil prices. Despite the short-term fluctuations in composite frac plugs and balls demand in North America caused by dropping new shale oil & gas activities that is a result of the decreasing crude oil prices, the long-term business outlook seems promising with good growth potential in the foreseen future.
Insights based on product type
The market is firstly bifurcated into frac plugs and frac balls. Both, composite frac plugs as well as balls, play a pivotal role in the plug-and-perf operation in the hydraulic fracturing. However, in terms of market size, frac plug dominates the total market and is expected to remain the larger and faster-growing segment of the market over the next five years, as composite frac plug is the highly-used technology in the plug-n-perf method, which optimizes the entire lifecycle of extraction of natural gas from run, set, test, hold, and mill.
Insights based on region
In terms of region, North America is expected to remain the largest as well as the fastest-growing market during the forecast period. The major players such as Haliburton, Schlumberger Limited, Downhole technology Ltd. , Weatherford International, and Baker Hughes, are based in North America only. The USA is the growth engine of the North American as well as the global composite frac plugs and balls market and will continue to drive the region’s market over the next five years. It is estimated that hydraulic fracturing accounts for about 70% share of the new oil and natural gas wells drilled in the USA, where plug-n-perf is the most dominant method. This is assuring a huge demand for composite frac plugs and balls in the country.
The supply chain of this market comprises raw material manufacturers, composite frac plugs and balls manufacturers, drilling contractors, EPC contractors and operators (oil & gas companies). The key oil & gas service companies are Baker Hughes, Halliburton (Houston), Schlumberger (Houston) and Weatherford International (Zug, Switzerland). The key oil & gas companies are British Petroleum, Shell, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips.
The composite frac plugs and balls market is marked by the presence of both, service companies manufacturing composite frac plugs and balls in-house as well as independent frac plug and ball manufacturers. The key well completion companies manufacturing composite frac plugs and balls are Baker Hughes, Halliburton, Schlumberger, and Weatherford, whereas the key independent manufacturers are Magnum Oil Tools, Downhole Technology, and Team Oil Tools. New product development, collaboration with customers, and regional expansion are the key strategies adopted by the key players to gain a competitive edge in the market.
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