ExxonMobil to Raise High-vis PAO Capacity

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ExxonMobil Synthetics today announced plans to expand the production capacity of its metallocene high viscosity polyalphaolefin plant in Baytown, Texas, by 20% in response to customer needs. The cost and projected completion date of the project were not disclosed.

The company said it confirmed the feasibility of significantly increasing production by conducting a trial at the plant. The project would raise the plant’s capacity from 50,000 metric tons per year to 60,000 t/y. “We are actively procuring the feedstock required to enable the higher production capacity to be brought online as customer demand requires it,” the company told Lube Report in an emailed statement.

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Metallocene PAO base stocks are considered particularly well suited for industrial lubricants requiring high stability under severe operating conditions. They can also be used in combination with lower-viscosity fluids – such as lighter PAOs and mineral oils – to formulate a wide range of industrial and automotive lubricants and greases. Metallocene PAOs are manufactured through a process that uses metallocene catalysts to achieve higher viscosity index, improved shear stability and enhanced low-temperature properties, ExxonMobil claims.

“Investing in our production facilities and responding to market drivers allows us to stay at the forefront of the base stocks industry,” Kerrie-Anne Lanigan, vice president of ExxonMobil Synthetics, said in a news release. “As adoption of the metallocene synthetic base stock platform increases across industrial, automotive and wind turbine markets, we’ve invested over half a billion dollars in plant capacity improvements in the last decade.”

The Baytown plant was opened in 2014.

The ExxonMobil Synthetics Business unit has four Group IV and V base stock manufacturing facilities supplying over 375,000 tons across all grades. Group IV refers to PAOs, while Group V includes base fluids such as esters, alkylated naphthalenes and polkyalylene glycols. According to the company’s announcement, it has 209,000 t/y of low viscosity PAO, 102,000 t/y of high-viscosity PAO and 67,000 t/y of esters capacities.

The company noted that consultancy and market intelligence company Kline & Co. forecasted the global synthetic lubricant market to grow by more than 25% between 2020 and 2025, with a further upside in the industrial lubricant space.