Shale Gas Expansion Drives Oilfield Chemicals Growth

Global sales expected to reach $19 billion by 2015, but regulations could mar future gains.

The global market for chemicals used in oil and gas drilling and production is expected grow at an average annual rate of 3.5% through 2015 as the industry continues to benefit from the expansion of shale gas drilling in North America, according to an IHS Chemical study released March 5.

IHS projects worldwide oilfield chemical sales will reach nearly $19 billion, up from $16 billion in 2010.

The United States and Canada accounted for 52% of the overall market in 2010.

Expanding shale gas resources in North America has brought record quantities of natural gas to the U.S. market, said Ray Will, principal analyst at IHS Chemical and co-author of the report.

"Increased supplies of natural gas have caused price declines, making gas more competitive both for electricity production and as a raw material for chemicals production here in the U.S.," said Will in a prepared statement.

But environmental and safety regulations related to offshore discharges during oil field operations could negatively impact future industry growth, Will said.

Political instability in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East could also impact industry growth.

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