Spotlight on Synlube Stocks


Unconventional base stocks offer uncommon performance, and Lubes’n’Greases has completely updated its 2010 global guide listing more than 180 plants that produce PAO, PIB, PAG, esters and other chemistries that are the backbone of most synthetic lubricants.

The new 2010 Nonconventional Base Stock Guide from LubesnGreases magazine shows the key manufacturers of seven fluid types, with plant locations plotted on a world map and capacities listed where relevant. Products include polyalphaolefins, polyisobutene, polyakylene glycols, esters, silicones, phosphate esters and API Group III base oils.

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These are higher value products than conventional solvent-refined mineral oil stocks. As man-made chemicals, they are created to offer specific performance enhancements such as greater oxidative stability, extreme temperature capabilities and biodegradability. And as products of the global chemical industry, they are generally sold by the pound, not the gallon – another clue to their high value.

Leaders in nonconventional base stocks are generally not the same companies that rank as conventional base oil leaders. Chemical companies like BASF, Ineos, Dow and Daihachi dominate the lists. Only in the Group III category will you spot familiar refiners such as Neste, Petronas, S-Oil, SK Lubricants and Shell.

Capacities are provided for PIB, PAG, PAO, phosphate esters and Group III fluids. Most capacities are estimates, said editor Lisa Tocci. Few companies disclose this information. Data for the guide were gathered in close cooperation with Pathmaster Marketing Ltd., Woking U.K.

The guide is useful for tracking ownership and capacity changes as well as to identify market leaders. For example, PAO capacity has risen nearly 10 percent from 2009, to 518,300 metric tons per year. Ineos led this jump, increasing capacity at its Feluy, Belgium, plant from 82,500t/y to a world-leading 126,000 t/y, and lifting capacity in La Porte, Texas, from 82,500 to 90,000 t/y.

PIB capacity rose a bit over 2 percent from last year, to 965,000 metric tons per year. Nine of the 22 PIB plants listed are in East Asia; five of those are in China. But the giants continue to be Ineos with capacity of 190,000 tons/year at two plants; Lubrizol, 140,000 t/y at two plants; Infineum, 135,000 t/y, two plants; and TPC Group, 117,500 t/y at its Houston plant.

Here are just a few more highlights from the new guide:

Esters are the largest category, with 52 plants listed. Western Europe dominates with 27 plants, followed by the United States with 13 and Japan with three.
Dow Chemical dominates in PAGs, with total capacity over 293,000 t/y excluding its Brazilian plant, for which data was not available. BASF was no slouch with 72,000 t/y of PAG capacity.
Thirteen plants make phosphate esters for lubricants, all in Western Europe, the U.S. and Japan. Total capacity for these market leaders has dipped to 142,000 t/y, reflecting more accurate industry data.
Silicones for lubricants are manufactured at 24 plants, eight in Western Europe, five in the U.S. and five in Japan.
API Group III base oil capacity rose nearly 4 percent from 62,580 b/d in 2009 to 64,930 b/d in 2010, and a staggering 75 percent of that capacity is in the Asia Pacific region. Forty six percent of the worlds Group III capacity is controlled by South Korean refiners SK, S-Oil and GS Caltex.

Subscribers to the print edition of LubesnGreases magazine will receive the 2010 Guide to Unconventional Base Stocks with their September issue. For information on ordering copies, click here.

The guide is one of three from LubesnGreases magazine. Its companion guides are the 2010 Guide to Global Base Oil Refining, listing locations and capacities for the worlds 160 principal mineral base oil plants; and the 2010 regional Base Stock Guide for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

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