China Continues to Hone Base Oil Capacity


China Continues to Hone Base Oil Capacity

With fresh plants springing up to make high-grade products, China has boosted its total mineral base oil capacity to over 8.3 million metric tons per year – nearly double what the country could make 10 years ago, according to data published this month by LubesnGreases magazine.

The magazine counted more than 160 mineral base oil plants operating worldwide, totaling capacity of 57 million t/y (1.1 million barrels per day, the units used on the chart). China has carved out an ever-fatter slice of this pie, the research indicates, and now possesses almost 15 percent of the whole. In 2006, China held only 9 percent of global base stock capacity.

The magazines 2016 Guide to Global Base Oil Refining currently lists 22 refineries in China that make lubricant base oils. While the country used to lag in manufacturing API Group II and Group III base stocks, it now can boast that fully half of its capacity is devoted to such high-performing grades.

Among the latest changes in China is Sinopecs addition of 400,000 t/y of Group II at Maoming, which a company official reported would wrap up construction in late May. Sinopec also opened a 200,000 t/y Group II plant in Nanjing, LubesnGreases research shows. LubesnGreases magazine is a sister publication of Lube Report Asia.

Another new face on Chinas base oil scene is Zhonghai Jinxiang, which has built a 150,000 t/y naphthenic refinery in Luzhou. The company confirmed to Lube Report Asia that the unit is set to stream this month.

On the minus side, Sinopec stopped making Group I base stocks at its facility in Yanshan last year due to lack of feedstock, and still has no plans in place to restart it, the company advised.Teapot refiner Shandong Qishing, which had a fledgling 140,000 t/y base oil unit in Shandong, also has exited the arena and no longer manufactures base oil, it confirmed last month. The company said it has changed its business model and now buys paraffinic base oils from outside sources to make transformer oils rather than produce the stocks itself.

Photo: Petar Kujundzic/Newscom

This new Guide to Global Base Oil Refining is the most up-to-date picture of Chinas current base oil capacity you can find, said Tim Sullivan, managing editor of Lube Report Asia. Our reporters have verified the data wherever possible with company officials and inside sources, to give a precise picture of the countrys base oil topography as of mid-May 2016.

Ten years ago, he continued, two thirds of Chinas base oil capacity was Group I or naphthenic base oil. The past decade has seen enormous investment and quality uplift, and were still seeing that surge continue.

Two more projects are due for completion in China in this years second half, Sullivan pointed out. One is CNOOCs new Taizhou plant, which will be able to make 590,000 t/y of Group II and naphthenic stocks, and the other is Panjin Northern Asphalts 300,000 t/y naphthenics expansion in Liaoning.

Elsewhere around Asia, the 2016 Guide counts 14 base oil refiners in Japan and Korea with a combined 8 million t/y of capacity, and 18 more in South Asia, Australia and the Pacific with nearly 6.5 million t/y. Together with Chinas rising volumes, the hemisphere can now claim a 41 percent share of global capacity.

The 2016 Guide to Global Base Oil Refining also reveals:
The Middle East has 4.9 million of base oil capacity. This region just celebrated the opening of Adnocs world-scale facility in Ruwais, United Arab Emirates, with 600,000 t/y of Group II and Group III capacity. Close on its heels is Luberefs nearly complete project at Yanbual Bahr, Saudi Arabia, bringing 700,000 t/y of Group II.
The United States continues to be the world heavyweight champion in base oil output, with over 12.9 million t/y of capacity. Thats a gain of 16 percent since 2006.
Europes base oil infrastructure has contracted over the same decade. Western Europes base oil plants can make 6.4 million t/y, a decline of 9 percent in 10 years, and capacity in Eastern Europe has fallen by one third, to just 4.7 million t/y.

The newly updated 2016 Guide to Global Base Oil Refining is a colorful wall poster measuring 120 mm by 190 mm. It lists the current owners, locations and nameplate capacities (in barrels per day) for mineral base oil plants and advanced rerefineries worldwide. Capacities are shown for making API Group I, Group II, Group III and naphthenics at each facility.

The print edition of the Guide was mailed last week to LubesnGreases North American and paid subscribers. Others may order a digital PDF of the wall chart for U.S. $50, payable by credit card. Website:

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