Proppants and Gravel Packs

High-Performance Structural Granulates

Proppants are granular materials used in oil and gas extraction to stabilize artificial fissures in rock, through which the oil or gas escapes. A mixture of proppant and liquid is forced into the borehole to generate cracks in the rock. Proppants entering with the liquid remain in the cracks when the pressure is released. Thus preventing them from closing and allowing oil or gas to flow out towards the borehole.

Proppant Requirements

To be effective, proppants have to meet multiple requirements: a layer of proppant must have the porosity to allow oil or gas to flow, but also be mechanically strong enough to resist the pressure of thousands of feet of rock. Both aspects are influenced by the particle size, the particle size distribution and the shape of the particles, as well as by the nature of the material.

A narrow particle size distribution is most effective – keeping the proportion of fine particles to a minimum, the channels between the large particles remain open and transport the oil or gas more effectively.

The mechanical strength of the proppant is also critical, being highly dependent on the raw material and how it is processed. Stronger materials however are also more expensive, and the associated increased density limits the proppants effectiveness in penetrating horizontal boreholes and fractures.

Challenges and IBU-tec Experience with Proppants

The ideal balance between all these characteristics also depends on the depth of the drilling and the nature of the rock formations. In some applications, mere quartz sand is sufficient, but other situations call for a high-performance proppant made of ceramic materials, that can withstand difficult conditions in great depths.

At IBU-tec, we have vast experience in producing a range of ceramic proppants, for example from kaolin, bauxite, gibbsite and clay.

IBU-tec has developed bauxite-based proppants on par with the specifications of leading manufacturers. Depending on the raw material, it is possible to achieve an almost perfect spherical form (Krumbein roundness and sphericity both 0.9). We develop proppants in any screen cut that is required, such as 20/40 or 40/70 mesh.

If you need to develop or produce proppants, gravel packs or related materials, we will be happy to advise you.