Petroleum waxes are soft colorless solids obtained from petroleum. Petroleum waxes are of three types, namely paraffin wax, microcrystalline wax, and petroleum jelly. Although these waxes are slightly translucent, addition of some chemicals can impart color to these waxes. It is tasteless and odorless. Also, it is insoluble in water, slightly soluble in ethanol, and sparingly soluble in solvents such as diethyl ether and hexane. Petroleum waxes are formed as a byproduct when lubricating oil is sent for refining process. Purity or grade of petroleum wax is based on the amount oil content present in the wax.
Increasing application of petroleum waxes in industrial coatings, candles, defoaming agent, surface finishing agents, cosmetics, plastic & rubber processing aids, pharmaceuticals, and electrical insulations is expected to drive the demand for petroleum waxes. This in turn is expected to fuel growth of the petroleum waxes market over the forecast period. It is also used in lubricants, preservatives for histology (tissue) samples, friction reducers on surfaces, and in solid-propellant for hybrid rocket-motors.
In 2015, 41.5% of the market revenue was generated by sales of candles, which is one of the major applications of petroleum waxes. This is owing to its increasing use for aromatherapy in spa, hotels, and other commercial buildings. However, volatile prices of crude oil and harmful emissions are major factors that are expected to restrain the petroleum waxes market growth.
On the basis of region, the global petroleum waxes market is segmented into North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa. Asia Pacific holds dominant position in the petroleum waxes market, owing to increasing demand for products such as candles, lubricants, and cosmetics in the region. China, India, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand are the major consumers of petroleum waxes, as it has wide range of applications in a variety of industries including automotive, chemicals, and construction. Moreover, increasing population and rising disposable income in emerging economies such as China and India in the region is expected to increase demand for consumer goods using petroleum waxes. This in turn is expected to fuel growth of the petroleum waxes market over the forecast period.
North America is another major consumer for petroleum waxes, especially in rubber latex for automotive industry and coatings for construction and furniture industry. Due to economic meltdown, Europe is expected to witness comparatively slower growth than other regions.
Some of the major players operating the global petroleum waxes market include BASF SE, Clariant International Ltd., Evonik Industries AG, Exxon Mobil Fuels & Lubricants, Honeywell International, Lubrizol Corp., Dow Corning, and Blended Waxes Inc. among others.
Key players are introducing in-organic growth strategies such as new product launches, product development, business expansion in-order to gain market share in the global petroleum waxes market.
For instance, in 2015, Cepsa, a multinational oil and gas company started its paraffin molding plant in the Gibraltar-San Roque refinery, an oil refinery in Spain. Paraffin is a wax which is extracted from crude oil and used in the production of a different variety of products in the food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry. In food industry, it is used to coat cheese, in cosmetics industry it is used as a component for lipstick, creams and ointments, and in the pharmaceutical industry it is used for the coating of tablets.
In April 2019, Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) launched its new food grade wax named as Pristene in the Indian market. The launch of Pristene will help company to strengthen its position the Indian wax market. This new product is the purest form of paraffin wax which passes through very stringent quality tests by Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) to make it safe for use in food packaging, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.