New report examines the future of high performance polymers

A new report from Smithers Rapra, The Future of High-Performance Polymers for Oil and Gas to 2020, examines the prospects of high performance polymers within a rapidly changing energy landscape.

Although in global terms traditional sources of oil and gas are starting to deplete, there are exciting new discoveries every year, which require more technically versatile materials. The vast reserves of energy in deep water reservoirs accounted for over 50% of all new discoveries between 2010 and 2014. As the industry is forced to go deeper, so the occurrence of major corrosion problems to steel pipes and other metallic components increases.

This scenario presents a major opportunity for suppliers of high-performance polymers to produce a corrosion resistant alternative.

According to the report, demand for high-performance polymers in oil and gas applications is estimated to be some 17,000 tonnes, with a material value of $430 million. Growth has been steady in recent years. In the four years between 2010 and 2014, while global oil and gas production grew by around 1.5% per annum, the use of high performance polymers increased by some 4.6% per annum, indicating a reasonable level of steel substitution.

Industry figures suggest there are around 950,000 oil wells in production across the globe, each with ongoing needs for new and replacement parts. If the oil companies are forced to save money by reducing the number of new projects, more attention will be placed on extending the life and productivity of existing wells.

In the US, shale gas exploitation is providing a major impetus to an otherwise mature and declining sector.

The energy debate will inevitably cast a shadow over longer term developments. However, although there are 83 signatories to the Kyoto Protocol, major countries such as China, India and the US remain outside and several others are lukewarm in their commitment. As such, it is clear that oil and natural gas will remain as significant parts of the global energy mix well into the future.

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