Study: Catalyst demand to reach $19.5 billion in 2016

Global demand for petroleum refining, chemical synthesis, and polymerization catalysts will rise 5.8%/year to $19.5 billion in 2016, according to World Catalysts, a new study from the Freedonia Group Inc., Cleveland, Ohio.

The study further says growth will result from rising output of refining, chemical, and polymer industries, particularly in developing nations, as well as from an ongoing shift in catalyst product mix toward higher value, more efficient catalysts.

Polymerization catalysts, says the study, will grow the strongest, with gains in large developing economies, as well as in the Middle East. In developed economies, catalyst demand will grow moderately, restrained by weak demand for motor fuels.

Rapid growth through 2016 will occur in both Asia and the Middle East.

In Asia, China and India will lead the growth, which will result from rapid industrialization and expansion of the refining, chemical, and polymer industries. China’s rising income levels, vehicle ownership, and industrial activity will all contribute to strong demand growth for catalysts.

In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and other large oil and natural gas producers will continue efforts to expand and diversify their economies by investing in new chemical and petroleum refining capacity. Polymer producers in the Middle East will increasingly compete globally.

Brazil will lead strong growth in Central and South America as it begins to develop its natural gas and oil resources. The study says this will provide a competitive advantage for chemical and polymer producers, while the nation’s large population will provide a strong market for products manufactured with the use of catalysts.

Catalyst demand in North America, says the study, will growth healthily as well, due largely to a rebound in chemical and polymer production as companies take advantage of comparatively low natural gas prices. These have fallen from the historical highs observed during 2006-11. Low gas prices will also encourage further development of catalyst technologies involved in converting natural gas to liquid fuels and other products.

Demand for refining catalysts in North America will be flat, the study says, as motor vehicle fuel demand stagnates in the face of competition from biofuels and increasing fuel efficiency of vehicles. In addition, intense competition among global export markets will depress margins for North American refiners.

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