Asia Tops in Grease Output

Nearly six out of every 10 kilos of lubricating grease produced worldwide during 2013 were made in the Asia-Pacific region, according to newly released data from the National Lubricating Grease Institute.

Tyler Jark, who is on the Institutes Board of Directors, reviewed the results of the 2013 NLGI Grease Production Survey at the groups annual meeting in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, United States.

In his June 17 presentation, Jark said Chinas grease producers reported making a total of 992 million pounds - roughly 450,000 metric tons, converted at 2.2046 pounds/kilo - for the year.

Thats somewhat more than the 931 million pounds that Chinas producers reported for 2012, but not quite up to the high-water marks set in 2011 and 2010, when reported output topped 1 billion pounds.

Production data was submitted for 80 companies in China, observed Jark, who is with Lubricating Specialties Co. in Pico Rivera, California, U.S.A. Sixteen companies that make grease in Japan participated, 13 from India, and nine others from Southeast Asia and around the Pacific.

China holds a 38 percent share of global grease production, while North America and Europe combined amount to about 36 percent, continued Jark. Companies from those two continents reported producing 466 million pounds and 439 million pounds, respectively.

India ranks next by region, the survey shows, with 191 million pounds made in 2013. Rounding out the top five is Japan, with a total 172 million pounds produced last year.

NLGIs annual survey is the only one to gauge lubricating grease production worldwide. All told, Jark said, 222 companies provided data this year on the output from 250 grease plants. In all, they reported making 2.59 billion pounds [1.18 million metric tons] in calendar year 2013.

By contrast, the global total reported in 2012 was 2.51 billion pounds. Jark emphasized that all data is submitted voluntarily, and the group of respondents who elect to participate in each annual survey can vary. So the year-to-year results are not directly comparable.

There are about 30 pages of data in the full report, so its very detailed, he explained. Grease production is sorted by zone, by thickener type, by year and (since 2010) by base oil type. Three prior years of data are included, along with the 2013 data.

Looking at thickener type, for example, the survey confirms that lithium and lithium complex greases remain the worlds favorite, by far. They account for 77 percent of all grease made worldwide.

Regional preferences abound, however. Just 60 percent of Japans grease is lithium-thickened, for example, compared to 85 percent of Chinas output and 90 percent of Indias.

The reverse pattern is seen with polyurea greases: Indias grease companies make zero grease of this type, but polyurea has grown to 5 percent of Chinas production and to more than a quarter of whats made in Japan. On a global basis, Jark commented that polyurea greases saw a very large gain in 2013 versus the prior year, but he declined to speculate on the reason behind this growth.

All NLGI survey participants report their production in confidence to the independent consulting firm Grease Technology Solutions (www.grease-tech.com), which then analyzes and compiles the data. No one at NLGI ever sees any individual companys data, Jark stressed.

Most companies participate consistently each year in the survey, according to Chuck Coe of Grease Technology Solutions. As well, some typically take the opportunity to update or finalize their prior years data.

Caution must be used when trying to compare this survey to earlier surveys, Coe advised, as there are significant revisions to production numbers reported earlier for the years 2010 to 2012.

Copies of the 2013 NLGI Grease Production Survey are provided free to NLGI member companies and to survey participants. To purchase it online, visit www.nlgi.org or e-mail nlgi@nlgi.org. The report is available in English only.

Region

Total Reported (million pounds)

Share of Global Output

North America

466

18%

Europe

439

17%

Caribbean, Central & South America

83

3%

Africa & Middle East

104

4%

India & Subcontinent

191

7%

Japan

172

7%

Pacific & South East Asia

144

6%

P.R. China

992

38%

TOTAL

2,591

100%