France Market Makes Strong Rebound

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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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