Tianjin Blast Shakes Lube Ops

Local government in Tianjin, China, suspended port traffic following Wednesdays deadly warehouse explosions at the northeast China industrial zone. Tianjin is the busiest base oil port in Northeast Asia and a prominent lubricants manufacturing hub important to many local and international players, including Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell and SK Lubricants.

The series of blasts originating at a warehouse owned by toxic chemical handler Ruihai International Logistics Co. late Wednesday night killed at least 114, injured more than 700 and left 70 people missing, according to a report posted on the Chinese governments website yesterday.

English newspaper China Daily reported yesterday that port traffic has returned to normal, with the exception of areas close to the blasts site. The Chinese government has not confirmed that the traffic restriction has been lifted.

Several lubricants players located near the blast zone told Lube Report Asia that their personnel and facilities were unharmed by the explosions, but that the restrictions on port activity had slowed or halted operations as of late last week. All expressed sympathy for the victims and their families.

Chevron confirms that all of its employees are safe and its lubricants facility, which is located five kilometers away from the site of the blast, did not sustain immediate visible damage, a Chevron spokesman told Lube Report Asia last Thursday. As a precautionary step, Chevron has implemented additional measures at its plant to protect the health and safety of its employees. Operations at its plant are being temporarily suspended and will resume once the situation around the impacted blast area is stabilized. Chevron does not currently expect its lubricants product supply to customers to be affected.

Royal Dutch Shell has two plants in the area. We can confirm that no Shell, [Shell joint venture] or contractor staff in Tianjin were affected by the explosion, a spokesman told Lube Report Asia on Friday.Our older, smaller lubes blending plant there has suspended operation due to traffic restrictions for the rescue, but the newer, bigger plant is in normal operation.

Amer Lubricant Technology Co., Luroda Lubricants (Wuxi) Co., and Lopal Tech each said that the incident did not affect their blending operations in Tianjin.

Korean base oil and lubricants supplier SK Lubricants did not respond to Lube Report Asia's inquires by deadline.

Nynas operates a storage terminal in Tianjin for process oils used in tire manufacturing. The area [in which Nynas facilities are located] was not affected by the accident. However, as a precaution, the government stopped all operations, including the Nynas depot, the Swedish companys head of marketing communications for naphthenics, Kristina Nslund, told Lube Report Asia. During this period, Nynas customers were supplied from the companys depot in Shanghai.

Dutch terminal operator Royal Vopak - which stores base oils, among many other products, in Tianjin - said that its personnel and facilities suffered no damages last week. However, spokesman Hans De Willigen told Lube Report Asia that even if the area werent impeded by the traffic restriction, investigation, repair efforts, cleanup and search and rescue operations, its hard for a company to return quickly to business as usual after such a devastating incident occurs nearby.