Japan’s Lube Production, Exports Steady

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Japan’s Lube Production, Exports Steady

Japan’s production and exports of lubricants both remained steady throughout the first quarter of this year, while domestic sales fell more than 10%, according to data released April 28 by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Economy.

Production of lubricants in March increased 2% compared to the same month last year to 206,243 kiloliters (185,000 metric tons), while exports jumped 20% to 84,021 kL year-on-year. 

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Domestic demand continues to be sluggish, however, as sales dropped 11% year on year to 127,465 kL, and imports fell 15% to 19,102 kL.

“Car ownership has been decreasing due to a fall in automotive ownership and the spread of car-sharing services,” Fuji Keizai Group, a Japanese market consultant based in Tokyo, said in last year’s press release on its global lubricant forecast. “The market is expected to contract.”

Japan’s evolving automotive market will affect demand for diesel engine oil. The market share of gasoline-powered passenger cars is high, and this is expected to continue. Also, in recent years, the use of hybrid vehicles, which use gasoline engine oil, has increased, so demand for diesel engine oil is expected to fall, it said. 

“In the long term, electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles, which do not use gasoline engine oil, will become widespread, but for the time being it is not expected to put pressure on demand for gasoline engine oil,” the Fuji Keizai Group said.

“Also, gasoline engine oil is used in many [hybrid] models, and this is good for the market,” it added.

Japan’s demand for industrial lubricants is expected to remain stable, while demand for lubricants for transportation remains unchanged or may decrease slightly, it added.

The group forecasted that the global lubricants market in 2035 will be 24% larger than in 2019.

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