Necessity of Zonal Isolation in Oil and Gas Industry Driving Demand

Zonal isolation refers to the process of placing a cement sheath between casing and wellbore. This process helps isolate fluids such as water and gas in a zone from mixing with oil in another zone. According to a study by Transparency Market Research (TMR), the global market for zonal isolation stood at US$14.80 bn in 2014 and is estimated to reach a valuation of US$27.88 bn by 2024, rising at a healthy CAGR of 6.6% during the forecast period of 2016–2024.

Why is zonal isolation so essential for well operators?

Well operators employ several methods to isolate a particular zone at the production site. Typically, cement is used to fill the gaps between casings and well bores to act as an isolation shield. However, with technological advancements in the recent past, several chemical and mechanical techniques have been developed to prevent the cross flow of water, oil, or gas between different formations. Zonal isolation not only helps a well to reach its full potential, but also insures against losing reserves, lower production rates, and start-up delays caused by repairing a faulty cement job.

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It has been noted that the market for zonal isolation is gaining popularity, with the exploration of unconventional energy resources on the rise across the globe, particularly in offshore areas. For example, shale gas production has grown exponentially in the past few years and well operators are banking on zonal isolation technologies such as packers and plugs to ensure full-scale production.

What enables the segment of chemical zonal isolation to dominate the market?

According to the TMR report, chemical zonal isolation holds the most formidable market share in terms of technology. This is because of the decreasing prices of crude oil, which have a direct impact on the chemicals used for zonal isolation. Well operators generally deploy multiple technologies besides primary cementing to isolate a specific zone during well completion and intervention. The technique used depends on several factors such as depth of the well, type of producing zone, temperate of the wellbore, and wellbore geometry.

Which regions are likely to be most lucrative for zonal isolation?

North America was the leading market for zonal isolation in 2014, as per TMR, which attributes it to the extensive exploration of unconventional resources in the region along with favorable government initiatives for safe energy and aggressive investments by key players. Europe and the Middle East were the next two prominent markets in 2014.

However, the zonal isolation market in Asia Pacific is expected to expand at the most robust rate in the near future, owing to consistent economic development and an increasing focus on the adoption of unconventional reserves. Drilling activities are rising in the region on the heels of supportive regulations in several countries, including China and India.

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