The global butane market stood at approximately USD 60 billion in 2015. In volume terms, global demand was nearly 138.22 million tons during the same year. This market is anticipated to expand at more than 2.7% CAGR during the forecast period (2016 to 2024).
An easily liquefiable gas, butane is highly flammable, colorless gas, and odorless. It is a byproduct that is obtained during the refining process of crude oil. Crude oil that is extracted from the reservoirs is transported to the refineries that derive products, such as jet fuel, diesel, and even gasoline. It is known as normal or n-butane when the carbon atoms are lined in a straight chain. However, when they are branched, the gas is called isobutane. N-butane is blended with gasoline to increase its volatility.
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Robust demand for Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) may favorably impact the industry. Higher standards of living and rising disposable incomes can impel the market till 2024. Most of the butane manufactured globally is used in LPG. When mixed with propane in a certain ratio, butane is often referred to as LPG.
Governments across Asia Pacific & Africa encourage the use of LPG. This is done in order to reduce carbon footprints and also to control the emission of CO2. LPG emits close to 33% lesser CO2 when compared with coal. It is used primarily in residential, commercial, and agricultural applications. It also finds use in automotives.
A major problem facing the global butane market is the issue of ground water contamination. This is due to the leakage of methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) that over a period of time affects ground water. Rising health hazards because of inhalation of butane has led to the application of rigid regulations in the global market.
The global butane market is categorized into applications and regions. Based on applications, the market is divided into refineries, petrochemicals, LPG, and others. Chemical & petrochemical, residential & commercial, auto-fuel, refinery, industrial, and others are the sub-segments of ‘LPG’. With market shares exceeding 66.6%, LPG led the industry in 2015.
Ongoing industry trends suggest that residential or commercial applications may capture more than 50% of the overall market by 2025. Isobutane can replace hazardous chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) that are used extensively in products, like propellants, deodorants, and refrigerants.
The petrochemicals segment is anticipated to register the highest growth rate during the forecast period. Automobile fuel may exhibit substantial growth because of strict emission norms and the widespread adoption of eco-friendly vehicles.
On the basis of regions, the worldwide butane market is segmented into North America, Central & South America (CSA), Europe, Asia Pacific, and Middle East & North Africa (MENA). Asia Pacific was estimated at more than USD 22 billion in 2015. It can grow at a 4.2% CAGR from 2016 to 2024. Surging demand for fuel gas can propel this region. Subsidies and governmental regulations, pertaining to multiple LPG connections will positively affect the growth of the LPG industry.
Ample supply of shale gas in the U.S. can meet the demand for natural gas liquids, thereby stimulating the global market. To reduce groundwater contamination, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) prohibits the use of MTBE for blending gasoline. The MENA butane industry contributed to more than 18% of total volumes in 2014. Greater use of LPG as a feedstock substitute for crude oil & natural gas in chemical industries and in refineries can increase the demand for butane in the region. Butane industries in Nigeria, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, and Qatar may expand significantly during the forecast period.
Prominent companies operating in the global market are Chevron Corporation, Exxon Mobil Corporation, British Petroleum (BP), and ConocoPhillips Inc. These industry participants give a lot of importance to the development of bio-based alternatives for producing niche products. They also lay emphasis on product innovative as a means to gain a higher market shares.