Industrial Minerals: Expanded Organoclay Plant

RPMinerals expands organoclay plant as Egyptian group rebrands

-Published in the November, 2011 issue of Industrial Minerals magazine.

Bentonite, barytes, and chemicals group grows to serve oilfield & other markets

The Rasheed family group of companies in Egypt has rebranded its business under the name of Rasheed Performance Minerals (RPMinerals), supplying speciality mineral and chemical products to serve a range of markets including oilfield, civil engineering, metal casting, and papermaking.

Among the recent changes is a plant expansion at wholly owned subsidiary IDIC Specialty Drilling Chemicals, at its facility in the Amreya Free Trade Zone, near Alexandria.

IDIC manufactures organophyllic bentonite and organophyllic lignite products used in oil-based drilling fluids under the trade names, BENTOIL and LIGNOIL, respectively.

The company has just completed a multi-million dollar expansion of its manufacturing facilities to a “practical capacity” of 25,000 tpa.

IDIC also mills and packages Gilsonite, sourced from the USA, “as a contingency supplier” for the oilfield market.

Ahmed Rasheed, managing director at IDIC told IM: “The Egyptian oilfield business, which is growing, was largely unaffected by the recent unrest. While the export business was affected by port congestion during the first few weeks of unrest, port operations throughout Egypt have returned to normal.”

While demand is healthy for organoclays in the region’s oilfield market, organoclay producers are bearing the brunt of increased prices for a key organoclay ingredient, quaternary amines, oil wetting agents used to coat the clay for its use in drilling muds.

Rebranded as RPMinerals

The Rasheed family group of companies, founded since the late 1980s by Atef Rasheed, comprises four joint ventures specialised in the production of bentonite and barytes products, and two wholly owned companies that manufacture and trade speciality drilling chemicals.

These companies are now collectively branded under RPMinerals.

Noteworthy is that after 26 years of oilfield experience, Atef Rasheed was the first to commercially develop Egyptian bentonite, initially for the oilfield market.

In addition to IDIC, and also located in the Amreya Free Trade Zone, RPMineral’s other wholly owned subsidiary is Industrial Chemicals & Environmental Materials Co. (ICEMCO), a trading company operating as a contingency supplier of a wide range of speciality drilling chemicals.

ICEMCO is also an authorised distributor and repair centre for Halliburton’s FANN® testing equipment, used primarily in the oilfield market.

Three of the joint venture companies are: Egypt Mining & Chemicals Co. (EMIDC), Egypt Bentonite Derivatives Co. (EBDC), and Egypt Nano Technologies (ENT).

Since 1998, US bentonite producer Amcol International Inc. has owned 31%, 31%, and 27% interests in EMIDC, EBDC, and ENT, respectively.

These companies have plants in Borg El Arab, 65km west of Alexandria, and mines 110km south-west of Borg El Arab, which supply bentonite for a range of markets.

Combined bentonite sales in 2010 exceeded 125,000 tonnes of which 55% was exported.

Rasheed commented: “Egyptian bentonite, owing to its natural viscosity, is unique with regard to its applications in civil engineering, such as in tunneling, horizontal directional drilling, and piling projects, while its high activity and large surface area made it also unique in papermaking applications.”

The civil engineering market typically accounts for 30% of RP Minerals’ combined bentonite sales, followed by oilfield, 18%, and papermaking, 17%.

The fourth joint venture company is Alexandria Mining & Petroleum Services Co. (AMCO), which sources barytes from mines in southern Egypt, imports barytes, and processes the material at Borg El Arab, supplying the oilfield market.

A new ball mill recently came online and production for 2011 is expected to reach 30,000 tonnes barytes. Current capacity is 60,000 tpa.