France Market Makes Strong Rebound


Lubricant demand in France rebounded after bottoming out in April and in June actually ran ahead of sales from the same month of 2019, according to data released recently by a Paris-based association.

The Professional Center for Lubricants reported that finished lubricant and process oil sales reached 46,005 metric tons in June, a 6% increase from June of last year. In April, the industry’s worst performance since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand slid to 27,488 tons, a decrease of 42% year to year.

For the first half of the year, demand was 230,176 tons – down 15% from the same period of 2019. Last year was far from a banner year for the market as social unrest and other disruptions resulted in demand falling 6% from 2018.

France is the second-largest lubricant market in Western Europe, following Germany.

The pandemic seems to have hurt the automotive lubricant segment more than its industrial counterpart. Demand for automotive lubes was off 17% compared to 12% for industrial varieties. Sales of process oils slid 13%.

Within the automotive segment, sales of passenger car engine oils were off by 25%, compared to just 12% for commercial diesel engine oils – consistent with observations that lockdowns constricted personal travel more than commercial transportation.

In the industrial segment, aviation engine oils were unsurprisingly the lubricant category the declined the most – 27% during the first half of the year – followed by insulating oils and other types of turbine oils at 25% and 22%, respectively. Demand for every category was down year to year, but the smallest drops were for soluble metalworking fluids and industrial greases, which dipped 3% and 4%, respectively.

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