US refinery chemical demand will exceed $7 billion in 2014

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, May 5
-- Demand for chemicals used in US refineries will expand 5%/year to $7.1 billion in 2014. Although refined-product output will likely decline through the period, demand for refinery chemicals will be supported by use of new, higher value products that enhance performance.

Those are among the findings of a new study from the industry research firm Freedonia Group Inc., Cleveland.

In addition, said the firm in its announcement, refiners will continue to subject their products to higher levels of chemical treatment in order to remove more impurities. That trend will also support chemical demand in refineries.

The study finds that market gains will result primarily from above-average increases in the large merchant-hydrogen segment, due to rising use by refiners trying to supplement their captive hydrogen production. “Merchant hydrogen will remain the largest and fastest growing product in the US refinery chemical market,” according to the Freedonia announcement.

Environmental regulations to reduce sulfur in fuels will continue to promote the use of hydrotreating, the largest application for merchant hydrogen. Hydrocracking represents another growth application for merchant hydrogen, said the announcement.

Catalysts also account for a large share of the market and are commonly used in refining to improve energy efficiency and process productivity. Metal catalysts will maintain their position as the largest refinery catalyst type, said the report.

Through 2014, these catalysts will provide the fastest gains in the catalyst segment. Advances will be based on rising use in hydrotreating applications, as noted. Zeolites represent another leading type of catalyst used in the refining industry, said the announcement.

Among conversion processes, hydrocracking could also see considerable growth. Hydrocracking benefits from its ability to boost production yields and increase refiner profitability.

In water-treatment processes, said the Freedonia announcement, market value will expand due to a shift from commodity water-treatment chemicals to more expensive environmentally acceptable alternatives.

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