Asia Grows into Base Oil Behemoth


Asia Grows into Base Oil Behemoth

In the past decade, Asia-Pacific has seen a net increase of around 10 million metric tons in its base oil capacity, making it by far the largest regional supply source. Chinese refiner PetroChina increased its capacity in the past five years and is now the worlds second-largest supplier.

Capacity in Asia-Pacific rose to 23.2 million t/y in 2015, accounting for 41 percent of the global total of 56.9 million t/y, Lutz Lindemann, an executive board member with Fuchs Petrolub SE, told the International Colloquium on Tribology in Esslingen, Germany, Jan. 12. The second-largest region, North America, accounts for 24 percent. Western Europe as 12 percent, while Eastern Europe and the Middle East both account for 9 percent.

Photo: S-Oil

Expansions to the base oil plant at S-Oil’s massive Onsan, South Korea, fuels refinery were among the large number of base oil investments in Asia in recent years.

The increase of approximately 10 million t/y in capacity for Asia-Pacific was mainly due to the opening of new API Group II and Group III plants in Malaysia, Indonesia and China, along with expansions of existing Group II and III plants in South Korea, China and Singapore, according to co-author Apu Gosalia, vice president sustainability and global competitive intelligence at Fuchs.

The growth in Asia-Pacific matches the roughly 10 million t/y surge in global capacity since 2005, but not all of the growth was in Asia-Pacific. Capacity also rose in the Middle East and North America, but Western and Eastern Europe saw significant declines.

State-owned PetroChina increased its base oil capacity by roughly 700,000 t/y since 2010, moving just past Shell to become the worlds second-largest supplier with capacity of approximately 3.25 million t/y, Gosalia said. ExxonMobils capacity increased by roughly 800,000 t/y during that period, and it remains by far the largest supplier with capacity of close to 7.5 million t/y.

JX Nippon Oil and CNOOC (China National Offshore Oil Co.) were the other big Asian movers during the past five years on Fuchs list of the 20 largest base oil suppliers. Japans JX Nippon Oil moved into the eighth slot thanks to a joint venture expansion at SKs massive plant in Ulsan, South Korea. State-owned CNOOC opened a couple new plants and now ranks 11th.

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