Neste Goes Global


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates- Finlands Neste Oil will be well on its way to becoming a global player in the base oil merchant market with the launch next year of its 400,000 ton-per-year API Group III joint venture in Bahrain.

The project is on schedule, with instrumentation and tie-ins still to be done, Juha Wallius, Nestes market development manager, told the ICIS Middle Eastern Base Oils & Lubricants Conference here on Oct. 13. Commissioning is expected to be complete by September 2011.

Bahrain Lube Base Oil Co. was established in June 2009. The government of the Kingdom of Bahrain holds 55 percent of the equity, divided equally between Bahrain Petroleum Co. and the Oil & Gas Holding Co. Neste Oil has a 45 percent share. Products will be marketed by Neste Oil, said Wallius, and Bapco will operate the production site, located within an existing Bapco refinery in Sitra, Bahrain.

The new base oil plant uses Chevrons Isodewaxing technology, and will produce about 400,000 t/y. Primary output will be two products, said Wallius, a 4 cSt and an 8 cSt base stock, with about equal volumes of each. But the unit is flexible, he added.

Wallius stressed that the Nexbase-branded base oils from Bahrain will be part of the same product slate as the production from the companys 250,000 t/y plant in Porvoo, Finland.

In addition, he continued, Nestes joint project with Abu Dhabi Oil Refining Co. (known as Takreer), which is the refining subsidiary of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., in Ruwais, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. , is moving ahead well. The Abu Dhabi project will stream some 500,000 t/y of Group III base oil in 2013, giving Neste customers access to over 1 million t/y of Group III Nexbase by 2014. The Abu Dhabi production will also adhere to the same manufacturing specifications as Nexbase in Finland, said Wallius, and will be part of the same product slate.

Carmaker approvals require extensive testing, Wallius noted. Expansion of Nestes Nexbase portfolio has allowed also midsize and small customers to have rapid access to modern formulations, carrying up-to-date automaker and industrial credentials.

While Nestes focus to date has primarily been Europes heavy-duty and passenger-car engine oil market, developments are ongoing for North American formulations, Wallius said.

We want to be truly global, Wallius said. We will have a global supply chain. Demand for Group III base oils is global, he noted, and main volumes [from the Bahrain refinery] will leave the Middle East, but we also hope to help the local market.

Asked how its Group III will compete against the much anticipated gas-to-liquids Group III from the Shell/Qatar Petroleum joint venture, Wallius said that traditional Group III will find a home. And we dont know if GTL will be captive or reach third party markets. With its world-scale production sites and extensive formulation portfolio, Wallius concluded, Neste is ready to grow with its base oil customers.

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