Internal olefins are high-value chemicals, produced by dehydrochlorination or chlorination of linear paraffins. It is used in various applications such as lubricants, oil drilling, surfactants, and agrochemicals. Internal olefins are valuable intermediate for processes such as synthesis of linear alkyl benzenes and oxo alcohols. It is also used during drilling mud, paper sizing, and for lubrication-based oil.

Lubricants application segment is expected to show a significant growth in global internal olefins market in 2018. This is attributed to increasing number of motor vehicles, as lubricants reduce the friction between surfaces. According to U.S. International Trade Organization (ITA), in the U.S., the sales of light vehicle reached 17.1 million units in 2017. Also, the U.S. is the world’s second largest market for production and sales of vehicles.

Oil drilling segment is the fastest growing application segment in global internal olefins market in 2018, owing to increasing number of oil drilling activities. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), around 330 units of crude oil rotary rigs were in operation in June 2016, which increased to 861 units of crude oil rotary rigs in July 2018, in the U.S.

North America held significant market share in the global internal olefins market in 2017, owing to increasing oil and gas exploration due to shale gas revolution, which in turn expanded drilling activities in the region. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, production of shale gas in the U.S. increased from 1.3 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) to 15.8 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) during 2007 to 2016.

However, easy availability of internal olefins substitutes such as poly-alpha-olefins is expected to hinder growth of internal olefins market. Furthermore, fluctuating prices of ethylene is also hampering growth of the internal olefins market. For instance, in December 2012, the ethylene price was US$ 1175 per metric tons and reached up to US$ 1265 per metric tons in January 2013.

The global internal olefins market was valued at US$ 1.64 billion in 2017 and is anticipated to register a CAGR of 4.7% in terms of revenue, over the forecast period (2019 – 2026), to reach US$ 2.46 billion by 2026.

Figure 1. Global Internal Olefins Market Share, By Region, 2017

Asia Pacific is the fastest growing region and held the highest market share of 24% in 2017, owing to increasing automotive production coupled with increasing use of synthetic lubricants in automotive application. According to the U.S. International Trade Administration (ITA), in 2016, China was the world’s largest vehicle market with the sales of over 28 million units. The automobile output in China is expected to reach 35 million units by 2025.

Furthermore, various key players are focused towards increasing production of ethylene, the raw material for manufacturing internal olefins, which is a key factor for driving growth of the internal olefin market. For instance, in April 2016, Korea Petrochemical Ind. Co., Ltd. (KPIC) aimed to expand its ethylene production capacity with the addition of 330,000 tons/year and its current capacity reached up to 800,000 tons/year.

Figure 2. Global Internal Olefins Market Share, By Application, 2017

Players operating in the global internal olefins market are adopting various growth strategies such as plant’s capacity expansion to cater to increasing demand for internal olefins. For instance, in June 2017, Shell Chemical LP, expanded its linear alpha olefins plant capacity (based in Louisiana) up to 425,000 metric tons per year to meet growing demand for plasticizer alcohols and surfactants.

Major players operating in the global internal olefins market include, INEOS Group Limited, Sasol Limited, Royal Dutch Shell plc, Elevance Renewable Sciences, Inc., Chevron Corporation, SABIC, Halliburton Company, Schlumberger Limited, Shrieve Chemical Company, and Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd.

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