Despite the challenging economic environment amid the debt crisis in Europe, demand for industrial gases continues to remain modest driven by increased investments in infrastructure development and petroleum reserves in emerging markets. Traditionally, the sector is known to be surging ahead regardless of economic factors, owing to the evolving multiplicity of new applications both in conventional and novel domains. The long-term nature of the contracts and the diverse portfolio of end-user industries abate the hypersensitivity to market conditions for this industry. Consolidation, concentric diversification, strategic business alliances and divestitures are the key strategies being adopted worldwide to improve producer margins and market penetration.
The industry is expected to gain momentum post 2012, following anticipated turn around in economic situation, increased production and inventory levels and greater demand as consumer confidence stabilizes. Over the long term, annual growth rate in the industrial gas market is expected to significantly exceed the rate of industrial production driven by multitude of factors including opening of new start ups, rapid industrialization of emerging economies, increasing demand for energy, environment regulations, improving healthcare sector, and advancements in industrial technology. In addition, intense R&D activity focused on new application areas, minimizing operating expenditure and reduction in cycle times will propel fast track growth in the global market.
As stated by the new market research report on Industrial and Specialty Gases, the US continues to remain the largest regional market. Region-wise, Asia-Pacific is projected to witness maximum growth prospects for industrial gases, followed by Latin America and the Middle East. India and China offer high growth potential for industrial gases owing to rapid infrastructure developments and increasing concentration of the semiconductor, electronics and food processing industries in these regions. Leading industrial gas producers are investing in construction of projects, joint ventures and acquisition/ franchising of local firms in these economies lured by strong potential for growth. Growing environmental consciousness also presents an emerging avenue for the industrial gases in the industrializing economies.
Segment-wise, Hydrogen is projected to be the fastest growing product segment. In petroleum refining sector, the drive for low-sulfur and cleaner burning fuels is expected to fuel the demand for hydrogen. Demand for hydrogen is further expected to increase, with adoption of clean fuel norms in other countries. The drive towards energy diversity provides long-term opportunities for oxygen market. With gas-to-liquids, oil sands projects in the Middle East, as well as coal gasification projects requiring huge quantities of oxygen, the market for this segment is portended to witness significant growth. Metal fabrication and production sector is expected to remain the second-major sector for industrial gases, next to petroleum refining. Growth in this sector primarily stems from increased utilization of electric arc furnaces, enhanced demand for products manufactured using stainless steel and other advanced production methods requiring greater usage of industrial gases.
On the other hand, growth in electronics sector and rising demand for ICs and semiconductors is forecast to drive the consumption of bulk gases. In recent years there has been significant development in the high technology markets including semiconductor, flat panel display, solar panels and photovoltaic cells which continues to drive the demand for high purity industrial gases. Further demand is expected to emanate from development of other alternate energy sources such as hydrogen fuel cell technology which is being pursued to replace fossil fuels for automobiles and electricity generation. In addition, the increasing demand for homecare solutions amidst contraction of healthcare budgets is expected to augur well for consumption of gases such as oxygen which is used in respiratory therapies.
Leading players profiled in the report include Air Liquide, American Air Liquide Holdings, Inc., Air Products and Chemicals, Inc, Airgas, Inc, Praxair, Inc., Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation and The Linde Group.
The research report titled “Industrial and Specialty Gases: A Global Strategic Business Report” announced by Global Industry Analysts, Inc., provides a comprehensive review of trends, issues, strategic industry activities, and profiles of major companies worldwide. The report provides market estimates and projections by volume (Cubic Feet) for global and major geographic markets including the US, Canada, Japan, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Latin America. Product segments analyzed include Acetylene, Argon, Carbon Dioxide, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Oxygen, and Other Industrial and Specialty Gases.