Russian Lube Production Close to 2020 Level

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Russian Lube Production Close to 2020 Level
A view of a shipping port in Durban, South Africa. Russian Motor oil exports to several countries in Africa and Central Asia increased significantly on a proportionate basis in the past few years. © michaeljung

Russia produced around 600,000 metric tons of finished lubricants in 2021, a slight increase from the previous year, according to recently released government data.

Motor oil exports to several countries in Africa and Central Asia increased significantly on a proportionate basis in the past few years, likely due to improvements in motor oil quality.

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Russian exports of motor oils to Libya increased from 10,100 tons in 2017 to 11,700 tons in 2021, according to the Russian customs service. The exports also increased in such states as South Africa and Morocco. In 2017, both countries imported only 97 tons of Russian motor oils, while in 2021 that number increased to 2,400 tons.

Russia exported 8,400 tons of motor oils to Uzbekistan in 2017, while in 2021 the shipments to the Central Asia country increased to 13,800 tons.

The growth of sales of Russian motor oils in these countries is thanks to the combination of quality and prices, a consultant told Lube Report on Tuesday.

“The vehicle parcs of these countries need motor oils meeting the latest specifications, and the products coming from Russia can offer competitive quality for affordable prices,” Artem Mazaev, independent lubricant consultant and representative of OATS in Russia, told Lube Report Tuesday.

 He said that, however, the import of Russian motor oils is not as attractive as it used to be.

“This data is for the period prior to the special military operation [the Russian government’s term for its invasion of Ukraine],” Mazaev said. “Currently, the import of oils from Russia is not attractive because of the unfavorable currency exchange rate between the Russian ruble and American dollars or euros.”

OATS is a British firm that provides information and productivity solutionsfor the lubricants sector.

“If the exchange rate becomes more favorable, we should expect increased export of Russian petroleum products to such states as Iraq, Iran, Libya or other African countries,” Mazaev said.

A Russian trade representative in Saudi Arabia told the Praim news agency last week that the country doubled the petroleum products imports from Russia in the first half of 2022.

The 600,000 tons of finished products produced last year by lube manufacturers in Russia represented a slight increase from 2020, according to a recent report by the Russian Ministry of Energy.  

“The growth is thanks to the upgrades at three Russian refineries that produce [API] Group II and Group III base oils and high-quality finished products,” the agency said in the report.

These refineries are Lukoil’s Volgograd 220,000 t/y Group II base oil plant, Slavneft’s 100,000 t/y Group III base oil plant in Yaroslavl, and Tatneft’s 190,000 t/y of Group II and III base oil plant in Nizhnekamsk.

“This gives a chance to the refiners to increase domestic loadings and respond to the demand for lubricants in the country,” the agency said.

Many foreign lubricant majors such as Shell, TotalEnergies or ExxonMobil withdrew from Russia or stopped supplying finished products in the country since March.