Diesel will experience higher future demand than gasoline, fuel oil

David Nakamura
Refining-Petrochemical Editor

Houston, June 5 -- Future worldwide demand growth for motor fuels will focus on diesel, while demand growth for gasoline and fuel oil will stagnate. This is according to Jean Sentenac, Chairman and CEO of Axens, Rueil-Malmaison, France, in the keynote address to the CatCon2002 Conference here.

The trend will be even more pronounced in Europe, where refiners will have to deal with more-stringent fuel regulations and clean air standards. Sentenac said that, in combustion engines, diesel is a more efficient fuel and creates fewer emissions.

The ratio of gasoline to diesel demand growth in motor fuels has steadily decreased in the past 15 years. In Europe, this ratio has declined from 1.6:1 in 1986 to less than 1:1 in 2000. While gasoline demand is still growing, it is at a lesser rate than that of diesel demand.

In the meantime, fuel oil is steadily losing market share to diesel and kerosine, and will continue to do so for the next 10 years. Sentenac predicts that diesel and kerosine will account for 37% of worldwide oil consumption in 2010, up from less than 35% in 2000.

Government-mandated fuel-sulfur reductions will be the largest factor affecting future fuel usage, Sentenac predicted. Other fuel specifications that will also impact refinery operations including polyaromatic hydrocarbons, olefins, and total aromatics.

After sulfur, however, refiners' biggest concern will be carbon dioxide emissions. Sentenac predicts a 25% increase in global CO2 emissions from 2000 to 2010 due to increased use of hydrocarbons. Higher demand for hydrodesulfurization will create an additional need for hydrogen from hydrocarbons, which could increase CO2 emissions even further.

According to Sentenac, conventional diesel emits less CO2 emissions than gasoline, diesel from Fischer-Tropsch gas-to-liquids processes, and even LPG. Compressed natural gas has lower emissions but does not yet have the infrastructure to widely compete with diesel fuel.

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