Refinery catalysts are specialty chemicals that are used in petroleum refineries to convert heavy petroleum fractions such as crude oil into lighter, more useful fuels like gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. The most common refinery catalysts include FCC catalysts, hydrotreating catalysts, hydrocracking catalysts, and catalytic reforming catalysts. FCC catalysts find major application for producing gasoline and LPG from vacuum residues in fluid catalytic cracking units, while hydrotreating catalysts are used to remove sulfur, nitrogen, and oxygen from petroleum feedstock.
Increasing demand for cleaner fuels with lower sulfur content owing to stringent environmental regulations around the world is a major factor driving the refinery catalyst market. Regulatory bodies such as REACH and EPA have mandated a significant reduction in the sulfur content of automotive fuels over the years. This is increasing the demand for desulfurization processes such as hydrotreating in refineries, thereby fueling the need for hydrotreating catalysts. Furthermore, with rising energy demand worldwide, refineries are focusing on producing more gasoline and diesel from heavy feedstock through processes such as FCC and hydrocracking. This is augmenting the consumption of FCC and hydrocracking catalysts. However, volatile crude oil prices and the emergence of alternative fuels may hamper market growth over the forecast period.
The refinery catalyst market is dominated by the FCC catalyst segment. FCC, or fluid catalytic cracking, is the dominant conversion process used in petroleum refineries. FCC catalysts account for over 30% of the global refinery catalyst demand. FCC units are used in petroleum refineries to convert the high-boiling hydrocarbon fractions of crude oil, known as the long residue fraction, into gasoline, olefinic gases and other products. The process yields a higher octane barrel of crude, which can be further refined into high-value light products of gasoline and LPG. This makes FCC crucial for a refinery to produce high-quality gasoline.
The global Refinery Catalyst Market Demand is estimated to be valued at US$ 6.75 Billion in 2023 and is expected to exhibit a CAGR of 5.0% over the forecast period 2023-2030, as highlighted in a new report published by Coherent Market Insights.
Political: Environmental regulations push refiners to reduce sulfur content in gasoline and diesel. This drives demand for specialty refinery catalysts that enable deeper desulfurization.
Economic: Recovering crude oil prices increases refining margins, incentivizing investments in expanding refining capacity and capability upgrades, boosting catalyst demand.
Social: stricter fuel efficiency norms increase the need for ultra-low sulfur fuels, necessitating advanced catalyst technologies.
Technological: New catalyst compositions and nanotechnology enable refineries to meet stringent product specs in a cost-effective manner while minimizing emissions.
The global refinery catalyst market is expected to witness high growth, exhibiting a CAGR of 5.0% over the forecast period, due to increasing stringent fuel quality regulations worldwide. Tightening environmental protection rules mandate reducing the sulfur content in automotive fuels. This drives demand for advanced refinery catalysts that facilitate deep desulfurization of crudes during conversion processes.
The Asia Pacific region is poised to be the fastest-growing as well as the largest market for refinery catalysts during the forecast period. China and India account for the major share of the region’s refining capacity additions aimed at catering to increasing fuel demand from the transportation and industrial sectors. Moreover, governments of countries in the region are also implementing stringent environmental standards for automotive fuels to curb emissions, thereby boosting the regional market.
Key players operating in the refinery catalyst market include BP Global and Royal Dutch Shell. BP Global is a British multinational oil and gas company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is one of the world’s seven oil and gas “supermajors” with a multibillion-dollar turnover. Royal Dutch Shell is a British-Dutch multinational oil and gas company headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands and with its registered office in London, United Kingdom. Shell is one of the seven oil and gas “supermajors”.
- Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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