After a pandemic-induced recession in 2020, lubricant demand in Poland rebounded last year as passenger cars returned to the road and motorists resumed maintenance.
Lube sales in the country reached 241,973 metric tons in 2021, up 10% from 219,270 tons in 2020, according to a report released last week by the Polish Organization of Oil Industry and Trade.
“Many people who had neglected the annual servicing of their cars during the pandemic decided to catch up and had their engine oil changed,” the association said. “Heavy-duty engine oils were also in higher demand, and the e-commerce market developed rapidly, which triggered more freight movement.
The report noted that finished lubricant prices rose from September onward, and that the government lowered taxes on those products in December in an attempt to stop the trend.
Poland’s automotive engine oils accounted for 48% of all lubricants sold in the country in 2021, representing 81.7% of sales in the automotive segment. Volumes rose 19% last year to 116,482 tons.
“The main factor responsible for this growth is the continued dynamic development of the transport, services and logistics industry, which has recognized and managed the change in consumer behavior since the beginning of the pandemic, in particular the increased interest in e-commerce services,” the association said.
Sales volume of passenger car motor oil rose 27% in 2021 to 69,621 tons.
“It should be taken into account that such a large increase is partly justified by a low base effect – in 2020 it was sales of oils for passenger cars that recorded the largest decline” due to movement restrictions imposed because of pandemic, the report noted.
The synthetic lubricant category improved the most, as sales volumes climbed 32% year over year.
This is a “confirmation of the progressive replacement of cars on Polish roads with more technologically advanced units,” the report said. Sales of semi-synthetic oil rose 18%, while volumes of conventional products were level with 2020.
“Such significant growth is justified by, among other things, catching up with the service backlog of 2020, when travel restrictions and the sudden rise in popularity of remote work meant that a significant number of passenger cars were not in use,” the organization said.
Sales of heavy-duty engine oils rose 11% to 42,686 tons.
On the industrial side, 99,455 tons of industrial lubricants were sold in Poland in 2021, an increase of 2% compared with 97,835 tons sold in 2020.
“The preliminary estimate of 5.7% gross domestic product growth in 2021 was not directly reflected in the market for industrial oils,” the organization said, adding that two factors hampered sales of the latter. First, a run-up in base oil prices caused hikes for finished lubes, and this led some end users to switch to products that were less expensive than Polish lubes.
“This was the case in the shipping industry, where an increased interest in cheaper oils from Eastern Europe was observed,” the association said. Disruptions in global supply chains also hampered the development of the industrial market.
The hydraulic oils remained the most important product category in the Polish industrial segment. Their sales in 2021 increased by 8% compared to 2020.
Announced in June 2021, the “Fit for 55” regulatory package, part of the European Green Deal, envisions scenarios of stringent emission standards and an effective ban on the use of internal combustion technologies in Europe in the coming decades, which translates into the rise of electric-vehicle and reduced demand for lubricants, the report said.