The Industrial Gases sector services a large number of industry sectors including metals, the oil and gas industry, LNG, solar, chemicals, manufacturing, medical, electronics, transportation, glass, agriculture, food and beverages. The industry has evolved to include the supply of a wide variety of gases ranging from oxygen, nitrogen, argon, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and helium to chemical gases such as acetylene, ethylene oxide, and nitrous oxide. Industrial gas suppliers now also supply a variety of exotic gases and provide specialty gases with ever-higher levels of purity. The industry has faced a significantly changing business environment in recent years due to outside forces ranging from increased demand for medical oxygen to the growing importance of hydrogen as an energy source.
Companies directly involved in the supply of industrial gases range from large multinational companies producing a variety of gases on a global scale to small and medium-sized gas suppliers focused on regions, product types, and end markets. The industry’s supply includes equipment manufacturers who supply storage vessels, portable tanks, valves, vaporizers, pumps, and associated processing and handling equipment, companies who construct and service plants, and transporters of industrial gases. The US has seen significant investment in industrial gas supply driven by the petrochemical industry in recent years. However, as petrochemical construction declines, new growth will be driven by other industries. Food grade growth should continue as companies look to meet consumers’ demand for preservative reduction, without further compromising supply chains. As the country’s growing industrial gases infrastructure continues to age, companies that repair, service, and allow producers to increase efficiency are growing in importance. The industrial gas industry remains one of the most capital-intensive sub-sectors of the chemical industry. Transportation and distribution of industrial gases are typically expensive as the physical properties of industrial gases require specialized shipping equipment, including in some cases the need for refrigeration. Industrial gas companies may also seek to convert private fleets to common carriers due to increasing challenges in the trucking market. Finally, industrial gas companies and their suppliers need to identify their role in the hydrogen market, as rapid growth in demand for hydrogen as an energy source disrupts traditional hydrogen supply chains as new energy-focused players enter the market.