Prices of food grade guar gum, normally below $1 per lb, have risen above $2.50 per lb because of the oilfield industry’s use of guar gum, according to a July 28 “Hydrocolloid News” e-mailed report from IMR International, a hydrocolloid consulting company. According to the report, buyers of food grade guar gum are facing prices of more than $5.75 per kilogram ($2.61 per lb), delivery times of four to six months and, in some cases, demands to pay in advance.“The guar situation has reached dire circumstances,” the report said. “Unless there is a paradigm shift in technology for the oilfield industry or a shift in policy away from hydraulic fracturing, there is no end in sight for the current guar shortage. In the meantime, both producers and users of food guar are scrambling to find substitutes or extenders to guar.”The oil industry always has used guar gum and started using a much larger volume in 2010 because of horizontal drilling techniques in shale gas and oil formations, said Dennis Seisun, founder of San Diego-based IMR International. Guar gum comes from plants, most of which are grown in India and Pakistan, he said.“Basically the oil people are big buyers, big spenders,” he said. “They go to the guar suppliers and say, ‘What’s your price, and give me all you got.’ The food industry is getting left behind.”
The area under guar seed cultivation in Rajasthan this season stands at 2.76 million hectares, compared to 3 million hectares last season. In Haryana the area under guar has come down from 256,000 hectares registered last year to 215,000 hectares this year.