Pandemic Dented Demand in Spain

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Lubricant demand in Spain fell 12.7% in 2020 due to impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, based on data compiled by the Spanish Lubricants Association. In its January newsletter the organization reported that market made a significant rebound during the second half of the year after bottoming out during the second quarter.

“As of June, a global market recovery began, to even reach in some months – such as September and November – better [sales] figures than the previous year,” the association concluded in an article in the newsletter.

Aselube’s estimates are based on its compilation of sales volume figures reported by member lube suppliers, which collectively account for 82% of demand in Spain. For 2020 members reported sales of 306,000 metric tons, which was 42,000 tons less than 2019. Assuming that the market share of member companies remained unchanged, total demand in 2020 would have been 373,000 tons.

Spain was among the European countries hit hardest by the pandemic. For a time during the second quarter of the year it had among the world’s highest numbers of reported infections and deaths resulting from the coronavirus. In response the country took drastic countermeasures to contain the disease, and these took a heavy toll on the economy.

Lubricant demand reached its nadir during April, when consumption was off 48% year to year. The market steadily recovered after that until September and November when sales actually exceeded corresponding levels from 2019. For the third and fourth quarters the association reported member sales of 81,000 tons and 85,000 tons, respectively, after just 59,000 tons during the second quarter.

The pandemic affected all segments of the market but some suffered more than others, the association noted. Demand for automotive lubricants fell 11% for the year, while the industrial segment – including aviation and marine lubes – was off by 14%. Sales of process oils dropped 9%.

The association’s newly installed president, José Luis Zuazola, said Spain – like many other countries – is still in the midst of the pandemic and that the lubricants market will continue to suffer impacts.

“But we also know that sooner or later the vaccines will take effect and mobility will return, and with it an expected and necessary reactivation of our economy, where sectors such as transport, tourism, construction and the manufacture of goods and equipment represent a significant part,” he wrote in an address to members.

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