Base Oil Map Shows Asias Power

Global base oil manufacturing capacity now tips the scales at roughly 55 million metric tons a year (1.11 million barrels a day). And while the building frenzy of the past decade seems to be easing, Asias refiners still aim to stream nearly 2 million new tons of capacity - the equivalent of two world-class base oil refineries - by the end of 2019.

Those are among the insights to be found from perusing the 2017 Guide to Global Base Oil Refining published this month by LubesnGreases magazine. The annual guide provides a sharp picture of the worlds base oil players as of early May, while also looking ahead at whats to come.

The 2017 guide is an 80 x 66 centimeter wall poster listing more than 160 facilities around the globe and their capacities for making API Group I, Group II, Group III and naphthenic base stocks. Plants are color-coded by geographic region and keyed to a locator map that makes it easy to see what and who is where (and where there are gaps).

Asia, it shows, is home to 41 percent of the worlds total base oil capacity, up impressively from having 29 percent just 10 years ago. It has 52 percent of all capacity for making Group III, 35 percent for naphthenics, and produces substantial volumes of Group I and II, too.

For years, South Korea, Japan and Singapore had a lock on most of Asias modern base oil capacity, but in recent years Chinas state-owned oil companies and feisty independents have been adding Group III and especially Group II units at a rapid clip. Since China let its Group II bloom, the country has over twice the capacity for making that grade (82,000 b/d) as it has for Group I (39,750 b/d).

Among the new Chinese facilities dotting the map now are CNOOCs refinery in Taizhou, with 12,000 b/d of Group II and naphthenics, and the independent teapot refiner Shandong Qingyuan, which has 8,000 b/d of Group II in Zibo operated by its subsidiary, Shandong Fangyu.

The 2017 guide also includes a list of soon-to-come capacity, led by two projects expected by year-end in China: Maoming Dazetians new Group I plant - thats right, Group I - in Maoming, and a naphthenics unit being built in Liaoning by Panjin Northern Asphalt.

Beyond that, ambitious independents Hainan Handi Sunshine Petrochemical Co. and Hengli Petrochemical have asserted that theyll bring a combined 30,000 b/d of Group II and III capacity to market next year. Hainans is to be near the city of Hainan, and Dalian will host the Hengli facility.

China is not alone in undertaking new base oil projects. This years fourth quarter will see Group II and bright stock flowing from Luberefs upgrade at Yanbual Bahr, Saudi Arabia, a year later than previous estimates. And 2018 is to see ExxonMobils grass-roots Group II plant in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Although the company has declined to reveal its planned capacity, LubesnGreases estimates it at 20,000 b/d, based on information from multiple industry sources.

The multinational also is moving to again enlarge its Group II footprint in Jurong, Singapore, in 2019. ExxonMobil has kept mum about this projects size, too; LubesnGreases pegs it at 6,000 b/d.

Looking elsewhere around the globe, the Guide shows that North America currently holds one-quarter of the worlds total base oil capacity, including 40 percent of all capacity for making Group II, and 47 percent of all naphthenics. It has scant Group III production, however.

Western, Central and Eastern Europe together hold 38 percent of the worlds Group I capacity, but also have faltered in the race to make Group III. For that material, many buyers must look to Asia and the Middle East, the Guide indicates.

The 2017 guide is one third larger in area than before, enabling the editors to improve its overall legibility and expand the map that pinpoints each plant geographically.

The larger 2017 guide also has space to include footnotes about base oil plant ownership wherever its not obvious from the listed companys name. Idemitsu Kosan and Saudi Aramco, for example, hold about 46 percent of Showa Shell Sekiyu in Japan, and Chinese industrial and armaments giant Norinco owns Panjin Northern Asphalt.

In many cases, like SK-Repsols Group II/III plant in Spain, the ownership is obvious, but its not always so, commented Michele Persaud. As editor of digital products, she tracks base oil prices and plants all year and maintains the integrity of the guides data.

We believe readers will find it eye-opening to see how many companies, like Saudi Aramco, Venezuelas PdVSA and JXTG Nippon Oil in Japan, are invested in their fellow base oil producers, Persaud said. JXTG is knit tightly to other producers in Japan and in South Korea, for example, and Aramco holds assets in Saudi Arabia, North America, South Korea and Japan. She added, With base oil being a global business, these ownership links are important to know.

Many companies contribute their data to help maintain the guide as an accurate picture of base oil refining capacity worldwide, and we welcome their feedback and updates, said Howard Briskin, publisher of LubesnGreases. He said the magazine partners closely with R. David Whitby of Pathmaster Marketing in Surrey, United Kingdom, to generate the global guide, with additional on-the-ground data gathering and fact-checking supplied by Lube Report Asias own network of reporters in Asia.

The guide covers base oil plants around the world having more than 800 daily barrels of capacity. Rerefiners using modern processes like hydrotreating to make API-quality base stocks are also shown, with an asterisk to distinguish them from their virgin base oil rivals.

Copies of the 2017 Guide to Global Base Oil Refining were mailed to LubesnGreases subscribers along with their June issue; copies also went to the magazines digital subscribers. To order a print or secure PDF of the Guide, visit https://www.lubesngreases.com/base-stock-guides/.