Base Oil Capacity Diversifies


Global base oil refining capacity is teetering on the edge of the million-barrel-per-day mark, but its geographic distribution is definitely off-kilter, as shown by Lubes’n’Greases’ new 2010 Guide to Global Base Oil Refining.

The Guide, a colorful 33-by-22-inch poster, was fully updated for 2010. It lists the owners, locations and capacities for more than 160 mineral base oil refineries and rerefineries, and features a map pinpointing the site of each plant. It was sent with the June issue of Lubes’n’Greases magazine to all print-edition subscribers.

Fifty-five percent of overall capacity is concentrated in the mature markets of North America and Europe, the 2010 Guide shows, while fast-growing China (already the world’s second-largest lubricants market) has barely 9 percent of the total. Together Japan and Korea have far more than that, sharing 13 percent of the global total. Korea led the world in streaming new capacity, with GS Caltex and S-Oil adding a combined 12,000 b/d since last year’s Guide was published.

North America continues to hold the lion’s share of API Group II capacity, with 56 percent of the world’s total 224,000 b/d.

The imbalance in naphthenics is also striking, the Guide makes clear. The United States is overstocked in these molecules, with well over half the global capacity of 85,000 b/d, while large swaths of the world have none at all. That dominance became even stronger in November with the completion of Ergon’s expansion in Vicksburg, Miss., which brought its total to 19,000 b/d.

The map also demonstrates that the fate of base oil facilities is always in flux. It records recent changes such as the closure of Shell Canada’s 2,700 b/d Group I plant in East Montreal, which is scheduled to wind down operations this month, and the sale of Sunoco’s Group I refinery in Tulsa, Okla., to Holly Refining and Marketing.

Anther marked change is the sale of ExxonMobil’s base oil plant in Dunkerque, France. Construction and road-building company Colas Group purchased the facility, in a transaction slated to close by the end of this month. Dunkerque makes both naphthenic and Group I paraffinic base oils, but its bitumen output is what made it attractive to Colas.

More than one of the plants shown on the map is on the lubricants industry watch-list. Imperial Oil’s in Sarnia, Canada, remains open for now, but the owners in February said they planned to stop making base oil there in 2011. Caltex’s small Group I refinery in Kurnell, Australia, also is slated for closure next year. And Shell is negotiating to sell two refineries — Harburg, Germany, and Stanlow, U.K. — to India’s Essar; if a deal is not struck, Shell says it will close both.

A final section of the Guide lists upcoming capacity additions, a whopping 106,000 b/d of new capacity that will stream between now and 2013 — all of it Group II and III quality, and half of it flowing from new plants in the Middle East. While many other companies have floated proposals for upgrades, expansions or new plants, this listing includes only projects that have a green light from their owners, with defined locations and capacities.

Lubes’n’Greases 2010 Guide to Global Base Oil Refining was mailed to all print subscribers to Lubes’n’Greases, polybagged with the June issue. It is the first of three base stock annuals from LNG Publishing Co., all of them created in close cooperation with Pathmaster Marketing Ltd. in the U.K.

In July, the regional Base Stock Guide for Europe, the Middle East and Africa will be sent to subscribers of Lubes’n’Greases Europe-Middle East-Africa. And print-edition subscribers to Lubes’n’Greases will receive the 2010 Nonconventional Base Stocks Guide with the September issue.

Additional copies of the 2010 Guide are available in print only. Visit LNG Publishing: Base Stock Guides for ordering information.

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