Barytes, the

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 79, No. 891, 1986

JOHN H. FOWLER, Nova Scotia Department of Mines and Energy Halifax, Nova Scotia

Barytes is one of the major components of drilling fluids used in oil and gas well drilling. This mineral's close association with the petroleum industry bestows it with a commodity status not enjoyed by many other industrial minerals. Approximately 85% of world barytes production is used as a weighting agent in oil and gas well drilling while the remaining 15% is consumed mainly in the manufacture of barium chemicals, glass and as a pigment, filler or extender. Barytes mining began in Nova Scotia around 1865 and has continued until the present. Currently there are three barytes producers in the province, one exporting pharmaceutical-grade barium sulphate and the other two supplying drilling mud-grade barytes to the offshore. Several barytes exploration and development programs are underway with excellent possibilities that Nova Scoria deposits will supply a significantly larger share of the drilling mud-grade barytes used in east coast drilling programs. Currently there is renewed interest in barytes activities in Nova Scotia because of its use as a weighting agent in drilling fluids used in offshore oil and gas drilling programs. This paper reviews the use of barytes by the well drilling industry; outlines the history of barytes mining in the province, progressing to present-day exploration, development and production activities underway in Nova Scotia; and concludes with the market potential for Nova Scotia barytes.
Keywords: Industrial minerals, Barytes, Drilling fluids, Weighting agents, Well drilling, Offshore drilling, Petroleum industry, Production, Exploration, Markets.