China Needs Synthetic Base Oils


BEIJING – China will continue to tighten regulations limiting emission of air pollutants, creating challenges for automakers and lubricant suppliers alike, a high profile speaker from CNPC told the CBI China Lubricant Market Focus conference here last month.

The auto industry, for example, is in great need of more energy-efficient synthetic oils that are catered to the advanced engine designed to comply with new emission standards, said the official, who insisted on not being identified, referring to National V standards for light vehicles. The current standard was introduced in September by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

Equivalent to EURO 5 standards, National V demands 25 percent less nitrous oxide emissions for gasoline-powered vehicles and 28 percent less for diesel passenger cars compared with the previous National IV standard. National V also reduces limits for particulate matter by 82 percent.

Under the National V standard, the durability required of the pollution control system in a vehicle is increased to 160,000 kilometers, doubled from the National IV standard.

The environmental ministry requires national implementation of the new standard by the end of 2017, but some regions are already one step ahead. For example, Shanghai and Tianjin will implement National V this year and gradually eliminate millions of vehicles that cannot meet the standard.

Also, consumers are demanding high-speed engines that can work under high temperature and high pressure, offering more opportunities for synthetic oils, said the CNPC speaker.

In China, she said, the market for synthetic lubes made with polyalphaolefin base stocks is dominated by foreign brands, including Shell, Mobil and Castrol. Growing demand worldwide for PAO oils and greases has spurred global players to invest in more production capacity. Shell, for example, said last year that it will add another unit to produce linear alpha olefins, a building block for PAOs, at its plant in Geismar, Louisiana, United States.

The CNPC speaker urged Chinese companies to develop their own LAO technology, rather than relying on foreign companies. So far, she said, Chinese PAO lube manufacturers get alpha olefins by thermally cracking paraffin wax, which often leads to poor purity and thus poor PAO lube quality.

CNPC has 12 lubricant and grease plants in China, and its production capacity of base stocks, including API Group I, II, III and IV oils, accounts for 67 percent of total domestic capacity.

Related Topics

Asia    Base Stocks    Business    China    Finished Lubricants    Region