Polish Market Shrank 7% in 2020


Polish Market Shrank 7% in 2020
Empty streets in Katowice city, Poland. Poland's lubricant consumption fell almost 7% in 2020, due mainly to restrictions introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the annual report of the Polish Petroleum Industry and Trade Organization. © BOKEH STOCK / Shutterstock.com

Poland consumed almost 220,000 metric tons of lubricants in 2020, down 7% from the year before due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an oil industry report. The report indicated that the Polish market took a significant beating but suffered less of a setback than some other markets in Europe.

As the pandemic raged across Europe last year, one of the most affected sectors was transportation. The restriction of movement in many countries reduced passenger car traffic significantly. In Poland, demand for passenger car oils shrank by more than 10% compared to 2019, the Polish Petroleum Industry and Trade Organization said in its annual report published last week.

The country’s industrial oil segment was also affected by the pandemic. Temporary shutdowns of plants in some sectors, like automobile and furniture manufacturing, and the collapse in demand for certain services translated into a 3% decline in the Polish gross domestic product for 2020, the report noted.

Non-pandemic factors also played a role in the lubricant market’s downward performance, the organization said. These include tax changes introduced in November 2019 “in terms of unifying excise duty rates on oils.”

The report includes data gathered by the trade organization and its own analysis as well as data from such outside sources as the Polish General Directorate for National Roads and Highways. The Polish Petroleum Industry and Trade Organization said comparisons between 2020 and 2019 are based on revised 2019 data because it has changed its methodology.

The report found that the share of the engine oils for passenger cars in 2019 shrank from 46% to 45%, while the share of heavy-duty engine oils rose almost 4%.

All automotive lubes accounted for 45% of total lube demand, while industrial oils held a 55% share. In 2019, the shares were 44% and 56%, respectively.

The country consumed 121,435 metric tons of automotive lubricants last year, an 8% drop compared to 2019. “The decline observed in 2020 can almost entirely be attributed to engine oils for passenger cars, which recorded a decrease in sales of 10.65%,” the organization said. “At the same time, an increase in sales of heavy-duty engine oils by 3.59% was noted.”

The organization reported that use of synthetic oils in heavy-duty vehicles jumped more than 22% in 2020, increasing their share of the overall market by more than 0.5%. Use of synthetic oils for passenger cars in Poland has been consistently increasing, and they account for more than three-fourths of the category.

In 2020, 38,466 tons of heavy-duty engine oil were sold in Poland,  or 3.6% more than in 2019. The organization recorded a 14% increase in sales of monograde oils, which are used in very narrow temperature ranges as gear or hydraulic oils.

While demand for passenger car lubes decreased dramatically, sales of heavy-duty engine oils rose during the pandemic. The lockdowns and quarantines throughout Europe spurred e-commerce sales, thereby increasing demand for shipping and logistics, the authors of the report said.

“Considering the significant position of Polish transport companies in European road freight routes, the increase in sales of heavy-duty engine oils observed in 2020 seems fully justified,” the authors say. “This can also be seen in the numbers: the observed heavy-duty traffic on Polish roads, between May and December 2020 increased by 4.33% year to year.”

In 2020, Poland consumed 97,835 tons of industrial lubricants, down 5% from 102,912 tons in 2019.

“Among the major factors influencing the contraction of industrial oils market, the restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic played a key role,” the report says. “Some industries, such as automotive and furniture, temporally halted production in 2020. This stagnation could not be made up for during the year.”

The organization is confident that the shift toward electric mobility triggered by the stringent emission regulations and the proclamation for a European Green Deal will bring changes to the lubricant industry.

“However, the scope and dynamics of these changes seem to have been exaggerated,” the report says. “Electrification of transport is a process that will last for decades, depending not only on consumer preferences, but also on the availability of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.”

The authors of the report observe that the technical possibilities of electric propulsion systems are still subject to many limitations, which rule out for now the mass electrification of heavy goods transport, and that the industry will still need a wide range of lubricants, “especially in view of the continued focus on growth in consumption.”

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