Group II, III Rise as Group I Fades


For the first time ever, world base oil refining capacity has topped the 1 million barrel per day mark. In another first, API Group I base oils slipped to less than half of the global total.

Those are just two of the insights that can be gleaned from Lubes’n’Greases magazine’s 2013 Guide to Global Base Oil Refining. Published this month, the Guide lists more than 160 base oil refineries worldwide, identifying their owners, sites and capacities in barrels per day. The information is displayed in a bright 33-by-22-inch poster, which includes a color-coded map pinpointing the geographic location of each refinery.

Global refining capacity for all mineral base oils, as of May 1, reached 1,028,800 barrels a day, according to the new Guide. With just 511,420 b/d of capacity, Group I base oil accounts for 49.7 percent of that figure.

Group I’s grip on the market will loosen even more by the end of next year, as another 90,000 daily barrels – all of it Group II and III – comes onstream. Meanwhile, API Group II accounts for 30 percent of current global capacity, Group III has 11 percent, and naphthenics 9 percent.

Drilling a little deeper, we can see some amazing changes in base oil supply and suppliers have taken place in just the past two years, pointed out Nancy DeMarco, publisher of both Lubes’n’Greases and Lube Report. Two years ago, there was no Group III capacity in the Middle East at all. Today, our 2013 Guide shows that region has 26 percent of the world’s Group III capacity, and even more is under construction there.

Meanwhile, refiners in Asia have continued to step up their game, she added. South Korea holds 41 percent of the world’s Group III capacity, and China – which also had zero Group III in 2011 – now makes more of it than North America.

The 2013 Guide to Global Base Oil Refining was mailed last week to print subscribers to Lubes’n’Greases magazine, along with the June issue. Digital subscribers to the magazine in the United States and Canada have been mailed a copy as well.

These subscribers will find the Guide gives a sharp picture of the base oil refining world as it stands today, as well as hints about what’s to come. For example:

The United States remains by far the number one country in terms of base oil capacity, with almost a quarter of the overall volume. While it has only 13 percent of the Group I and nil Group III, it boasts 38 percent of Group II and a whopping 53 percent of all naphthenics capacity.

Asia’s refiners – in China, India, Korea, Japan, Singapore and others around the Pacific Rim – together are approaching a 40 percent share of total global capacity.

Europe (western, central and eastern combined) has 22.5 percent of the worldwide capacity.

The Guide also lists upgrades, expansions and new plants that have a green light for construction; a full dozen of these are due to stream by the end of 2014. The largest is Chevron’s 25,000 b/d Group II plant in Pascagoula, Miss. When it starts up later this year, it will further consolidate North America’s position as the world heavyweight in Group II – at least until other projects under way from Abu Dhabi to Russia and from China to Spain begin to make inroads into the market.

This 9th Edition of the Guide to Global Base Oil Refining was compiled by Senior Editor Michele Persaud, in close cooperation with R. David Whitby of Pathmaster Marketing Ltd. in the U.K.

Additional copies of the Guide may be purchased online at

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