Japan’s Sanyo Chemical Industries delayed until early next year the start of operations at its new viscosity index improver plant in South Korea because of issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, a company spokesman told Lube Report.
“We initially announced that we planned to start operations in December 2019, but just when test runs were taking some time, staff responsible for operation preparation had to return to Japan due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so operation is expected to be delayed till the beginning of 2021,” the spokesman said on Thursday. “Currently, we have resumed operation preparation, water operation, intermediate monomer trials and others and we are trying to progress quickly.”
The new U.S. $18 million, 110,000 metric tons per year plant will produce the company’s Aclube brand viscosity index improvers. The plant is located in Eumseong County, North Chungcheong Province, South Korea.
Listed on the Tokyo stock exchange, Sanyo Chemical has four lubricant additive plants with combined capacity of 59,000 tons per year. Two plants in Japan – one in Kyoto and one in Kagoshima – together have capacity of 50,000 t/y, and there is one plant each in the United States and China with capacities of 4,000 t/y and 5,000 t/y, respectively.
The company said its olefin-based viscosity index improvers are used in automotive engine oils and help to improve fuel efficiency. The product is made from polymethyl methacrylate-based polymers and is also used in gear oils, transmission fluids and hydraulic fluids.
According to Sanyo Chemical’s latest earnings report, the slowdown in the motor vehicle industry has led to a drop in sales of its lubricant additives and other motor vehicle interior materials like car seat covers and others, but the company does not provide specific data on its lubricant additives sales.