Asia-Pacific Predicted to Lead Industry Growth


SINGAPORE – Lubricant demand in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to grow out to 2035, driven by an expanding middle class in India and Southeast Asia, officials from ExxonMobil said during a presentation at the ICIS Asian Base Oils and Lubricants Conference held here recently.

“Passenger vehicle [lubricant] demand will continue to grow, potentially peaking within the next 10 years,” Shwu-Hoon Ong, Asia Pacific fuels vice president at ExxonMobil Asia Pacific Pte. told attendees at the conference. “In 2030, it is expected to reach a plateau and then decline due to fuel efficiency and electric vehicles.”

Asia-Pacific demand for marine lubricants is expected to remain relatively flat between 2020 and 2035, while industrial and commercial vehicles lubricant consumption is expected to grow.

“Commercial vehicle and industrial lubricants growth [is] driven by demand for durable goods,” she added.

ExxonMobil says Asia-Pacific will continue to be the growth engine for the global lube market. The company forecasts demand in the region to increase a cumulative 20% from 2010 to 2035, while predicting that markets in the Americas and a combination of Europe, Africa and the Middle East will remain flat or shrink slightly over the same period.

Against this backdrop, the company expects base stock demand to grow and continue to shift to higher quality API Group II and Group III. It also says growing emphasis on operational efficiency in the commercial and marine transportation and industrial segments will drive demand for light, heavy and extra heavy neutral grades.

“Innovation is needed to meet the supply and demand gap for heavy and extra heavy markets with new processing technology for Group II material,” Pascal de Bast Thiers, business readiness manager for a residual upgrade project at the company’s refining complex in Singapore, told attendees. “Group I is blended into high-viscosity lubricants and is under pressure. Group II is needed to fill that demand.”

He added that global supply of extra heavy neutrals is constrained, with limited substitution and the rationalization of Group I plants affecting availability. 

“A wide viscosity range of base stocks is needed, and heavy lubricant growth [is] resilient,” he said.

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