SK Promises Green Strategy

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The parent company of SK Lubricants is looking for partners for base oil and chemical joint ventures, according to a New Year’s address by its CEO. He added that the company aims to introduce environmentally benign finished lubricants and to further develop technology that recycles waste plastics into products such as base oils.

SK Innovation President and CEO made the comments in a Jan. 4 address to employees, which was posted on the company’s website. His main theme was that a global trend toward sustainability is forcing businesses to alter operations so as to have more favorable impacts on the environment and their communities and to be more progressive in the way they are managed. The need to reduce environmental impact is especially urgent for petroleum-based businesses, he said.

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“These changes are, in particular, posing existential threats to carbon-focused businesses,” he said. “For us to rise above these challenging times and secure sustainable growth, SK Innovation must adapt holistically and in all aspects, but time is not in our favor.”

“Going forward,” he continued, “SK Innovation will make fundamental changes to our identity, business portfolio and asset structure with focus on green initiatives, and transform itself into a green energy and materials company that achieves green balance by 2030.”

Kim said that one of SK Innovation’s main foci will be its battery business, which is ramping up to supply electric vehicles. He said the company will also “seek out both domestic and foreign partnership opportunities” including joint ventures for its lubricant and chemicals businesses. The core activity of SK Lubricants is the supply of API Group III base stocks, of which it is by far the world’s largest supplier.

Those oils are produced at one wholly owned facility and two joint ventures. Previous news reports have indicated that the company was considering at least one additional joint venture, possibly to produce Group III in North America.

SK Lubricants also supplies finished lubricants and is a significant player in markets ranging from South Korea to Russia and Pakistan. Kim said the company will expand its offering of green lubricants, though he did not indicate whether he was referring to the raw materials they use or their effects on the environment or both.

He also said that SK Innovation’s chemicals business, SK Global Chemical, will work to expand recycling of plastics. The company recently announced that it had developed a technology that uses pyrolysis to process waste plastics into base oils.