Asian Shippers Consume Most Marine Lubes


Asian shipping companies account for just over half of global demand for marine lubricants, an industry insider said during a conference in Amsterdam recently.

UniMarine Lubricants Managing Director Caroline Huot also told the ICIS and ELGI Industrial Lubricants Conference Nov. 21 that supply of marine lubes is dominated by five European and United States marketers. But she added that numerous other players are trying to grab market share, including several from Asia.

Global marine lubricant demand is 2.7 million metric tons per year, Huot estimated, and companies based in the Asia-Pacific region, India and Bangladesh consume 1.4 million of those tons. (She noted that the statistics in her presentation did not consider where lubricants are dispersed.)

Huot explained that nine of the worlds 15 largest shipping companies are based in Asia. She did not name them, but industry sources identify six Asian shipping companies among the top 10: Evergreen Marine Corp., of Taiwan; China Ocean Shipping Container Line (Coscol), China; Hanjin Shipping Co., South Korea; Nippon Yusan Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK), Japan; Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. (MOL), Japan; and Orient Overseas Container Line, China.

BP is the leading supplier with 25 percent of the global market, Huot said, followed by ExxonMobil (23 percent), Shell (16 percent), Totals Lubmarine (10 percent) and Chevron (7 percent). She added that marine lubricants are a profitable business and identified 19 other firms or alliances that are pushing to increase sales. Asian companies in that list included Sinopec and PetroChina, of Taiwan; CPC Corp. and Feoso, of Taiwan; Malaysias Petronas; SK Lubricants, of South Korea; and Singapore-based UniMarine.

Some newcomers have ambitious goals but lack strategy, she said. The most important requirements for success in the marine market, she said, are to attain a global reach.

To reach critical size a global player should have the capability of federating local initiatives into a global network and to conciliate all parties interests to fill in supply gaps, she said.