Gulf Amps up Argentina Lube Plant

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Gulf Oil Argentinas 6,000 metric tons per year lubricants blending plant in Le Reja, Argentina, last week reached full production capacity for the first time since opening last year.

The plant, which had its official opening on Friday, was built on a 20,000-square-meter plot approximately 24 miles outside of Buenos Aires. Gulf said the location offers a logistic competitive edge, as its position on the Acceso Oeste highway provides direct routes to the other four member countries of the Mercosur regional trade bloc – Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.

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Gulf has phased out all operations from its existing plant bordering the city to the new facility that lies within an industrial park. With logistical limitations and restricted space at the existing plant, coupled with growing demand for Gulf products in the region, the need for a new plant was inevitable, Gulf Oil Argentina CEO Emilio Alvarez Caedo said in a statement. The new plant is the result of nearly a decade of strong business growth.

Gulf estimates that the new facility, which opened with limited production last June, will crank out 9,600 t/y of finished lubricants for the next three years, with the goal of reaching 15,000 t/y capacity five years from now.

If this volume is achieved, Gulf predicts it will hold 5 percent of Argentinas national market, which it says has total annual lubricants production of 300,000 tons by six companies blending plants. Alvarez Caedo identified how Gulf sets itself apart from its competition. Nowadays in Argentina there are lubricants production plants that are much larger than ours, but none is designed with this assembly line concept. The new plant boasts fully automatic blending capability and a semi-automatic filing area with five lines.

Although Gulf expects a significant increase in production volume, Alvarez Caedo pointed out that the plant is automated to the point that there has been no need to expand operating staff.

The major improvement over Gulfs old plant is that the production process is now fully automated, the statement reads. The design concept of the plant was to deliver an automated assembly line, where raw material enters at one side and finished product for distribution leaves out the other.

Each type of raw material has its own exclusive filling line in the blending zone, thus preventing any contamination between raw materials, the company explained, adding that the operation also includes a truck scale for precise control of raw material movement and bulk finished products.

Furthermore, the new plant has capacity to store 1,100 cubic meters of product on pallets and 1,100 cubic meters of base oil in 33 storage tanks. The plant will allow Gulf to deliver its product in a variety of forms, from bulk trucks to 100 cubic centimeter packaging, through 1,000-liter containers, 205-liter drums, 20-liter buckets, and 1-liter and 450-cubic-cm bottles.

The new plant aims to reach market segments that [Gulf] couldnt supply until now, Alvarez Caedo noted, explaining that over the next two years, Gulf has prepared a schedule for supplying new products and packaging launches. The first two releases of this schedule are already in the market: the semi-synthetic 10W-40 Gulf Tec and the Gulf Pride 4T for motorbikes and of course with synthetic and other top tiers to follow.

The Argentina blending plant officially opened around a month after the inauguration of Gulfs new facility in the UAE, which is slated to produce 20,000 metric t/y of lubes and 10,800 metric t/y of greases.