Sub-sea thermal insulation is a thermal insulation coating applied to components and structures that are immersed in cold deep water. This type of insulation provides thermal stability and enables smooth operation of sub-sea components. Most sub-sea pipes, components, and systems are used for oil & gas applications. Without proper thermal insulation, the oil flowing through these equipment and components cools and starts to hydrate, forming waxy deposits and obstructing the oil flow. Led by the ever-increasing demand for oil & gas, exploration companies are venturing into arctic environments and deep-water regions. Thus, the usage of thermal insulation has become mandatory in several drilling applications. Sub-sea thermal insulation is primarily made up of polyurethane, polypropylene, and epoxy. Several other materials such as aerogels and silicone rubber are also being developed and used.
The sub-sea thermal insulation materials market is largely driven by high demand from the oil & gas industry. Oil exploration companies are compelled to drill deeper for crude oil and gas due to the rising demand for energy and depleting oil & gas reserves. This has boosted the demand for sturdy, reliable, and versatile insulation materials. With no viable alternative to the existing insulation techniques, the demand for sub-sea thermal insulation is estimated to rise during the forecast period. Despite the excellent thermal insulating properties, some of these insulations are brittle, while some exhibit high water absorption rate. Others have high thermal expansion after curing or are costlier. This may restrain their growth. Furthermore, the installation process is lengthy, time consuming, and costly. This hampers the market. The repair of the damaged insulation section is also difficult and expensive.
Based on material, the sub-sea thermal insulation material market has been segmented into silicone rubber, polyurethane, polypropylene, aerogels, epoxy, and others. Polyurethane foam is a widely used commercial insulation material due to its low thermal conductivity and flexibility. Furthermore, installation of polyurethane foam is easier and cheaper. Syntactic polypropylene is also a close alternative to polyurethane foam insulation due to its high melt strength and resistance to creep. Based on application, the sub-sea thermal insulation materials market has been divided into pipe, joints, pipe cover, equipment, and others.
Sub-sea thermal insulation materials can be used as pipe-in-pipe insulation, wet insulated pipes, and flexible insulated pipes. Wet insulated pipe is the preferred type of insulation, as it is lighter, cheaper, reliable, and can be applied easily to intricate joints, equipment, and pipe bends. On the other hand, the insulation material is well protected in between the pipes in pipe-in-pipe insulation. This increases the overall lifespan of the pipe.
Geographically, the sub-sea thermal insulation materials market has been segmented into Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. Middle East & Africa and Europe are the major markets for sub-sea thermal insulation materials due to the high number of offshore oil & gas exploration and drilling activities. However, Asia Pacific is likely to witness significant demand for sub-sea thermal insulation materials in the near future due to the increasing demand for oil & gas in China, India, and ASEAN. Rise in demand for energy in North America is projected to propel the demand for sub-sea thermal insulation materials in oil & gas production during the forecast period.
Key manufacturers of sub-sea thermal insulating materials are Dow Corning Corporation, Armacell, BASF SE, Bayer, Kaneka, and Covestro AG.