Russian Greases Divergent in Quality

MOSCOW - Imports are on the rise in Russias grease market, but domestic lubricant makers are trying to displace them by offering products of similarly high quality. However, low-quality greases made by some domestic producers continue to dominate a large portion of the market, an industry insider said.

Russias annual grease demand is around 40,000 metric tons, and up to 70 percent of that volume, which is primarily used in the industrial segment, is formulated to meet obsolete Gost standards, said Nikolay Kazachenko, an engineer in Russian grease producer Intesmos department for marketing and development.

This is a relatively big market, and demand is trending toward products with better operational properties, he told RPIs Global Grease 2019 conference held here Oct. 11.

Products meeting Gost standards are recommended in a large portion of Russian made and Soviet-era made machinery. Because these greases are recommended by the countrys original equipment manufacturers, many Russian grease makers try to cut the costs for producing these products to pocket more profits, Kazachanko said.

To achieve that, these suppliers produce greases by using waste oils, or instead of lithium they apply cheaper calcium thickeners, in that manner worsening the quality of the available products, he revealed.

Intesmo believes that around half of the total annual greases production in Russia consists of low quality products that barely meet performance demands prescribed by the machinerys OEMs.

Kazachenko said that Litol 24, a lithium thickener based formulation developed in the 1970s, is the most popular grease product throughout Russia and the ex-Soviet states. This product is recommended in numerous operational instructions by the Russian original equipment manufacturers.

This product couldnt be classified as universal multipurpose grease because of its relatively low tribological properties, he said. Similar products are Solidol, Ciatim 204, Fiol and a few more.

Intesmo is a grease production joint venture between Russian oil major Lukoil and Russian Railways, the state-owned rail transpiration monopoly. The joint venture operates a 30,000 metric tons per year grease plant in Volgograd.