French Lube Demand Fell in 2019

French lubricant demand dropped 5.2 percent in 2019 as the European Union’s carbon dioxide emission reduction targets put pressure on the automotive sector in France and other large Euro economies, according to a consultant.

The total lubricants demand in France amounted to 523,108 metric tons in 2019, down from 551,999 tons in 2018, with a large drop in the automotive segment, according to data released recently by the Professional Lubricants Center, a French trade organization that collects and publishes market data from the lubricants industry.

France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain consumed an estimated 3 million tons of lubricants in 2019, accounting for 8 percent of global demand and 50 percent of the European market, according to estimates by consultancy Kline & Co.

France consumed 280,984 tons of automotive lubricants in 2019, down 6.3 percent compared to the year before, while industrial lubricant demand decreased 3.4 percent, or 200,704 tons.

Last year, the country consumed 41,420 tons of process oils, down 6.2 percent compared to the year before.

“The French market is affected by stringent regulations for emission reductions, which in turn is changing consumer and industrial practices, accelerating the switch from conventional [mineral] to semi-synthetic and synthetic lubricants,” said Sharbel Luzuriaga, a project manager in Kline’s Energy Practice who is based in the firm’s Prague office. Synthetic and semi-synthetic lubes tend to have longer drain intervals than conventional products and therefore reduce lube demand.

Luzuriaga said the European Union plans to further ratchet CO2 emissions limits, beginning in 2021, and that this will add incremental pressure on automotive lube demand within the trade bloc. In the meantime, havoc wreaked by the Covid-19 pandemic will depress overall lube demand in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and Italy this year.

“With the coronavirus pandemic, the impact of Covid-19 put additional pressure on the already sluggish lubricant demand projections for these top-five European countries,” Luzuriaga said.

Traffic on a street in Paris
© Mat Hayward / Adobe Stock

Parked cars along a street in downtown Paris, with the Eiffel Tower in the background.