France Lube Demand Rose in September

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Lubricant demand in France jumped to 46,040 metric tons in September, exceeding consumption in the same month of 2019 as the market continued recovering from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But even as that information was revealed in data published last week by the Professional Lubricants Center, the industry braced for a fallback as the French government battened down segments of the economy in an effort to staunch a resurgence of the disease.

The September consumption level represented a 42% improvement from August. That percentage perhaps overstated the extent of the recovery since August saw the lowest level of demand in 2019; The 32,486 tons of lube consumption in August of 2020 was less than 1% lower than the same month of 2019. Still, industry insiders were glad to see sales jump in September, which was only the second month to post a year-on-year improvement since the start of the pandemic.

Businesses worry, however, that the market could give back some of that progress if the government re-imposes lockdowns on much of the economy. The administration of President Emmanuel Macron ordered non-essential businesses to close last month and this month said that restaurants and entertainment facilities may be closed through the end of the year. France has averaged more than 27,000 new cases of the disease over the past week, one of the highest rates in Europe.

The uptick in the country’s lubricant consumption for September was spread evenly across the automotive and industrial sectors. Demand for automotive lubes was 24,708 tons, up 4% compared to September of 2019, while consumption of industrial lubes rose 6% to 17,928 tons. The latter figure did not include process oils, which fell 12% to 3,404 tons.

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