Quest for Energy Efficiency to Fuel Refinery Catalyst Market Growth
Globally, there are more than 700 operational oil refineries. However, these refineries are not equally distributed across the world. Refineries differ by type and complexity of oil refining technologies (refinery complexity), installed and utilized oil refining capacity, and more recently by technological potential for obtaining highly purified oil products and highly treated refinery emissions. Refinery catalysts are widely used in petroleum refining operations to remove or decrease the number of impurities such as nitrogen and sulfur from crude oil as they significantly boost the reaction rate. With growing stringency of fuel efficiency regulations all over the world, the demand for refinery catalysts has been high over the recent past. The global consumption of refinery catalysts is estimated to increase at a significant rate during the forecast period.
Refinery Expansion Boosts Catalyst Demand; Stringent Emission Regulations Further Complement
The growth of the petroleum refining market is likely to be driven by the rising demand for cleaner fuels and major additions to refining capacities. Processing of heavier feedstock in the refineries is likely to have a positive impact on refinery catalysts market. Significant capacity additions are expected to take place during the next few years. Tightening environmental norms on high-speed diesel and gasoline are expected to increase the demand for refining catalysts to produce sweet fuel. Sweeter the processed oil, lesser the quantity of sulphur or other impurities, which in turn translates into the low environmental footprint. Year-on-year increase in automotive sales is likely to drive the demand for refinery catalysts as more quantity of diesel and gasoline would be required.
The swelling vehicle parc is compelling refiners to increase their production capacities, resulting in maximum sales of fuels. The trend is estimated to continue during the forecast period. This allows refineries to produce large quantity of fuels, thereby meeting the global norms such as Euro-6 and country norms such as BS-IV. Increase in sales or exports to countries, wherein fuels are high in demand is also estimated to boost the current production of refineries. Expansion in refinery capacities may act as one of the major opportunities for the refinery catalyst market. The demand for fuels, primarily cleaner fuels, is consistently rising since the past few years. Hence, increase in existing refinery capacities and establishment of new petroleum refineries in the areas of high demand may further boost the refinery catalyst market. The global shift towards biofuel/green fuel is expected to hamper the demand for fossil fuel-based products, which holds a direct impact on the consumption of refinery catalysts as lesser the refined products consumed, lesser is the utilisation of refinery catalysts.
Dominance of Molybdenum and Zeolite Catalysts Prevails in Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC) Unit
Refinery catalysts are widely employed in fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) and hydrotreating units of petroleum refineries. High-octane gasoline is the primary product of fluid catalytic cracking, while diesel and gasoline are primary products of hydrotreating. FCC primarily converts heavy gas oil (HGO), vacuum gas oil (VGO), or residue feedstock into gasoline with high octane number. The catalyst is supplied with the feedstock at the bottom. Catalyst withdrawal rates depend on the size of FCC units and the operating parameters. In terms of type, molybdenum and zeolites are widely consumed catalysts that are used in various applications, including fluid catalytic cracking. Around 95% of the zeolites produced are utilized in FCC operations. The segment is likely to create higher revenue in the market as The demand for gasoline is high in developed regions such as North America and Middle East & Africa.
Asia Pacific to Witness Surge in Demand by 2025
North America and Asia Pacific are expected to be the major consumers of refinery catalysts due to the rising demand for fuels with low levels of impurities. Developed North American countries such as the US and Canada are active in manufacturing vehicles compatible with Euro-6 norms. The increase in shale gas production in North America is likely to boost the refining capacities in the next few years, thereby propelling the demand for refinery catalysts in the region.
Regulatory restrictions on diesel in fast-developing countries such as India and China are expected to boost the demand for hydrocracking and distillate hydrotreating catalysts in Asia Pacific. From 2015-2020, several catalytic cracking units were added by various refineries in Asia Pacific. Currently, China accounts for more than 65% of total zeolites production across the globe. Many reforming units have been established in countries such as Japan, Singapore, and Malaysia in the recent past. The primary reason for these expansions is to meet the rising domestic demand for fuels. Also, increase in number of automobiles and high demand for cleaner diesels in Asia Pacific are likely to boost the refinery catalysts market in the region.
Russia to Play out as a Key Growth Lever for European Market
Refining products are underutilized in Europe as compared to that in other nations mainly due to the stringent environmental regulations, coupled with rising demand for biofuels in European countries. This trend is likely to continue during the forecast period. Many refineries in Europe were shutdown owing to the decreasing demand for diesel and gasoline. The overall refinery catalysts market in Europe is estimated to expand at a sluggish rate owing to the shifting trend toward biofuels and renewables. In Europe, various refining projects are being implemented in Russia to meet the rising demand for refinery catalysts. Over the next few years, the sulphur levels in fuels in Russia are estimated to decrease to 50 ppm, potentially making the country an attractive market for refinery catalysts in Europe.
Global Refinery Catalyst Market: Competitive Landscape
A proprietary technology is required to develop refinery catalysts, which is why the top manufacturers in the global refinery catalyst market continue to pose threat to new aspirant entrants. Some of the key players in the refinery catalyst market include W. R. Grace & Co.-Conn, Albemarle Corporation, BASF SE, Chevron Corporation, Exxon Mobil Corporation, Honeywell International Inc., Haldor Topsoe A/S, Johnson Matthey, Royal Dutch Shell plc, and China Petrochemical Corporation.