Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras is seeking to add API Group II base oil production in the country through new installations at its Comperj petrochemical complex in the city of Itaborai, located in the state of Rio de Janeiro.
“We are looking forward to completing the construction of a catalytic hydrocracking unit at Comperj with new tanks and auxiliary units. Once the [unit] is up and running, it will enable us to produce 1,300 cubic meters per day of Group II base oil, as well as [low sulfur content] diesel, aviation kerosene and naphtha,” Anelise Lara, Petrobras director of refining and natural gas, told Lube Report. This would amount to around 1,170 metric tons per day, or about 427,000 tons per year. Feedstock would come from the company’s Duque de Caxias refinery, known as Reduc, the spokesperson said. That refinery has a Group I plant with about 11,200 barrels per day production capacity.
The only domestic source of API Group II base oils in Brazil is the Lwart rerefinery in Lencois Paulista, which can produce 78,000 t/y. Finished lubricant demand in Brazil sat at 1.35 million cubic meters in 2018, according to Thiago Ferreira Veiga of Lubrax, Petrobras’ finished lubricants brand, speaking at the ICIS Pan American Base Oils & Lubricants Conference in December.
With Group II base oil production, Petrobras will better position itself in higher-value finished lubricant products. This goes hand in hand with increasing demand for higher quality lubricants in Brazil, stemming from both regulations and engine evolution, according to the executive.
A related project will integrate the company’s Duque de Caxias Refinery, with unused units at Comperj. The idea is to produce basic lubricants and high quality fuels at the Reduc facility, then send these products through pipelines and for processing at Comperj.
As the company is still analyzing the situation, nothing concrete has been decided. There is no cost estimate for the project, and no construction works have been started, Lara said.
Reduc currently produces approximately 2,200 cubic meters per day of Group I base oil, Lara confirmed.
Before moving forward on Comperj, Petrobras is prioritizing the selling of its eight refineries announced in mid-2019. Scheduled in two phases – four refineries apiece – bid offers for phase I are due in March and phase II will follow thereafter. All refineries are expected to be sold by July 2021. This includes two facilities that have base oil plants. Landulpho Alves refinery in Mataripe in the northeastern state of Bahia has 1,750 b/d Group I production capacity, and Lubrificantes e Derivados de Petroleo do Nordeste – known as Lubnor – in Fortaleza in the northeastern state of Ceara has a 1,290 b/d naphthenic base oil plant, according to the Lubes’n’Greases 2019 Guide to Global Base Oil Refining.
Groups showing interest so far are Mubadala Investment, Ultrapar Participacoes, and Raizen, the latter being a joint venture between Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Brazilian ethanol producer and lubricants distributor Cosan.