Japans Lube Exports Rise as Domestic Sales Fall


Japans domestic lubricant sales volumes fell by more than 10 percent in 2018, but exports increased by 30 percent, according to data released recently by the countrys Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Production of lubricants increased 10.9 percent to 2.2 million metric tons, while export volumes increased 23 percent to 883,000 tons. Asia was the largest export market, taking 841,000 tons. Within Asia, South Korea, China and Taiwan were Japans largest buyers. Exports to Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia also increased, but volumes to the United States fell from 4,700 tons to 3,870 tons.

Despite a drop of 11 percent in domestic lubricant sales to 1.4 million tons, imported lubricant volumes increased 30 percent to almost 203,000 tons. Asia is the source of 92 percent of Japans imported lubricants, and the United States and the rest of the world accounts for the remaining 8 percent.

Marine lubricant sales volumes remained almost unchanged at close to 126,600 tons, while industrial lubricant sales volumes fell 1 percent to 301,200 tons and metal processing oil fell 5 percent to 141,160 tons. According to the Japan Metal Fluid Association, Japanese steel production fell 2 percent last year.

Grease imports increased 39.6 percent to 1,711 tons last year. Japan imported 811 tons of grease from the U.S. and 671 tons from Asia, with the rest of the world accounting for the remainder. Japans exports of grease fell 31 percent to 841 tons last year. Export volumes slumped to its major Asian markets, such as South Korea, China and Taiwan.

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