U.S. demand for oilfield chemicals to exceed $10 billion in 2019


CLEVELAND, Ohio -- U.S. demand for oilfield chemicals is forecast to increase to $10.3 billion in 2019, with healthy growth overcoming declines expected in 2015 and 2016. Although low oil prices in 2015 have led to sharp reductions in exploration and development spending, a recovery in prices should bring about a rebound by 2019, allowing the market for chemicals used in drilling, completion, cementing, hydraulic fracturing, and enhanced oil recovery (EOR) to see increases in demand by the end of the period. These and other trends are presented in Oilfield Chemicals, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry market research firm.

The boom in U.S. unconventional drilling has been the most important development in the world’s oil and gas industry since the 1970s, altering the balance of supply and demand at a global level and ultimately contributing to the collapse of oil prices in 2014. Analyst Jason Carnovale also notes, “At the same time, unconventional oil and gas have dramatically changed the market for oilfield chemicals as higher costs and a greater level of complexity associated with each well have led to rapid demand growth.”

Key trends over the next several years will include the ongoing shift toward slickwater fracturing fluids and high-performance drilling muds. Environmental concerns and the development of chemical formulations that can address these concerns will also have an increasing impact on the market during the forecast period, promoting additional demand for more environmentally friendly chemicals. Offshore activity is expected to remain an important contributor to the overall market as well, and the need for environmentally compatible fluids and chemicals will be greatest in offshore environments.

Hydraulic fracturing has emerged as the largest application for oilfield chemicals. Despite the low oil price environment, continued growth in the average volume of fluids used per well will sustain growth in chemical demand. However, this positive factor will be partially offset by the rising use of slickwater fluids with reduced chemical loadings, which will hold back stronger advances. Guar gum will remain the most significant chemical in hydraulic fracturing, although others, such as friction reducers, acid and surfactants, will also see a high level of use.

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