In 2016, the US market was valued at around $20bn. This is an increase from 2015 revenues, which stood at $19.6bn.

The gas business

In 2015, the largest domestic player was Airgas, representing the second-largest company overall. However, in May 2016, Air Liquide completed the acquisition of the company. Air Liquide’s equivalent revenues amounted to around $4.8bn in 2016, making the company the market leader in the US market. Air Liquide’s revenue is set to increase again after a full year of consolidated results are posted in 2017.

Praxair is the second-largest company active in the US, with a market share of around 20%. The third-largest company in 2016 was Linde, with revenues amounting to around $3.1bn (this figure includes the gas element of Lincare). Since Linde’s acquisition of BOC in 2006, the company has continued to invest heavily in the US. The proposed merger between the two companies will create a new leader in the market. However, the new merged company will have to divest of a sizeable portfolio of assets, which generated an estimated $800m in annual revenue in 2016.

Air Products ranks fourth in the gases market in the US. The company expanded into the CO2 business in 2013 with the acquisition of EPCO Carbon Dioxide Products. The company’s revenues equalled $2.7bn, in 2016.

MATHESON, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Japanese gas producer Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corp. (TNSC), is the sixth-largest company, with revenues of approximately $985m in 2016. A new merchant ASU was added to the company’s portfolio in 2014, located in Dickinson, North Dakota – and was subsequently expanded in 2015 to meet local demand. MATHESON acquired all-but two of the divested assets from the Airgas/Air Liquide deal. This has helped expand the company’s presence in the US, with a resultant market share of 5%.

The remainder of the US industrial gases market is made up of a large number (over 700) of independent producers and distributors. Larger independents, such as Norco, Tech Air and NexAir have been noticeably active in relation to acquiring smaller independent distributors over the past few years. Independent producers, such as Aspen Air (who acquired two CO2 plants through the Airgas/Air Liquide deal), have also made gains through the expansion of installed capacity.

Air gases generated around 45% of total revenue, whilst carbon dioxide accounted for a further 15%. Sales of hydrogen, chiefly tonnage volumes, created an additional 17% of sales.

By end-user, the chemical and refining sector combined accounted for around 30%, with metallurgy at 16% and cutting and welding applications at 14%. Other end-users with a share over 10% include food and beverage (12%) and healthcare (10%).

The future

gasworld’s five-year forecast for the US has been lowered from 4-5% p.a., down to 1.5%-3% p.a., up to 2021 - chiefly due to the ongoing lower energy prices and lower demand for industrial gases. The forecast for 2017 is at the higher end of this scale, as evidenced by the better Q1 earnings reports published by the major gas and equipment companies.

US regional reports

gasworld Business Intelligence has produced a series of eight regional reports covering the US industrial gas market, for more information please contact, or call +44 1872 225031