Japan’s Lube Consumption Slumps


Japan’s Lube Consumption Slumps

Japan’s finished lubricants consumption and production both declined sharply in August, compared to the same period last year, according to data released yesterday by a government agency.

The country’s domestic lubricant consumption dropped 33% to 68,909 kiloliters (62,000 metric tons) in August, compared with 101,588 kL in the same month in 2020, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry reported yesterday.

That’s the lowest monthly consumption number this year, below the previous low mark of 111,525 kL in February. Monthly consumption fell below 100,000 kL for the first time since May 2020, when it was 98,100 kL.

In August, the nation’s lubricant production – including volumes that were exported – decreased 11% to 152,304 kL, down from 171,521 kL, according to the ministry’s data. The August total is the second-lowest monthly amount this year, next to 138,472 kL in May.

The August export total of 64,576 kL was down 20% from 80,930 kL. The total was in line with most of this year from March onward, when export totals ranged between 65,535 and 77,167 kL each month, aside from a dip to 38,029 kL in May.

Imports decreased 8% to 18,949 kL, compared with 20,483. It was the third-lowest monthly import volume this year, ahead of 17,096 kL in February and 14,315 kL in January.

The Japan Center for Economic Research said in a short-term forecast update yesterday that it expected Japan’s economic recovery in fiscal year 2021 to remain mild due to several factors.

“The weakening of the recovery of private consumption in response to the spread of the delta variant of COVID-19 and also to the decrease in auto production due to parts shortage will dampen the economy,” the center stated. “However, the impact of positive determinants will continue to be present, such as increases in exports and domestic production due to the robust economic growth in China and the United States, as well as a clear rebound or private capital investment.”

Japan’s government was scheduled to lift its fourth state of emergency related to the pandemic after Sept. 30. A state of emergency had been in effect in Tokyo and other prefectures since July and had been extended on Aug. 17 out to Sept. 30.

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