Forecast Sees Slim Lube Demand Growth


Global lubricant demand – including process and marine oils – is expected to increase at a compound annual rate of less than 1 percent, to 40 million metric tons by 2020, according to consultancy Kline & Co.

Shell remained the top global supplier of finished lubricants last year for the 10th consecutive year, George Morvey, industry manager for Klines Energy Practice, said during a webinar Nov. 22. ExxonMobil was in second, followed by BP, Chevron, Total, PetroChina, Sinopec, Idemitsu, Fuchs Petrolub, and JX Holdings. Ranking 11th through 20th were Lukoil, Valvoline, Petronas, Gulf Oil International, Gazpromneft Lubricants, Pertamina, Indian Oil, Phillips 66, Hindustan Petroleum and Petrobras. Kline estimated that these 20 global suppliers accounted for 62 percent of total lubricants supply in 2015.

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Among global suppliers of synthetic and semi-synthetic automotive and industrial lubricants, ExxonMobil ranked first in estimated volume, followed by Shell, BP, Total, Chevron, JX Nippon, Idemitsu, Valvoline, Fuchs and Phillips 66. Kline found that these top 10 suppliers accounted for an estimated 67 percent of total volume – excluding process oils – in 2015.

Global lubricant demand dropped from 39.4 million tons in 2014 to the 38.8 million mark in 2015. Kline found that three countries accounted for the decrease, as China, Brazil and Russia had a combined decline of 624,000 tons in 2015.

Automotive engine oil – for passenger cars, motorcycles and heavy-duty trucks – accounted for nearly 50 percent of global lubricants demand. The next-biggest categories were process oil, hydraulic fluid, other automotive lubricants, general industrial oils, industrial engine oils, metalworking fluids and grease.

The United States remained the country with the highest lubricant demand. Morvey noted that the gap between the U.S. and China widened. Not that long ago, when we were doing the study, we were anticipating that any year now China is going to surpass the U.S. in terms of lubricant consumption, he recalled. We saw that in 2015, 2014, two of the leading industries – the commercial and industrial segments of China – did not fare well. They actually lost volume. And because of that, that gap between number one and number two widened a bit in 2015. He noted that global demand numbers remain very dependent on the U.S. and China. What happens in these two countries can really influence that top line number, he said.

The two leading countries were followed by India, Russia and Japan.

Morvey called the consumer automotive segment a bright spot for most country markets, especially passenger car motor oil and two- and four-stroke engine oils. Any of the reports that youll see from companies that track vehicle sales and vehicle production, theyre all positive over the next five years, he said. That in turn will positively impact consumer automotive.

He said this particularly applies to the top 13 country markets, where new vehicle production and sales are forecast to remain strong, most importantly in China. The top 13 markets include the U.S., China, India, Russia, Japan, Brazil, the combined market of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, South Korea, Indonesia, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Thailand.

Kline found that demand for high-performance, low-viscosity passenger car motor oil is accelerating in both developed and developing countries, driven by availability of API Group II and III base stocks, original equipment manufacturer technical demand, changing government and industry specifications, consumer behavior and improved maintenance practices.

The company estimates penetration of synthetic lubes will expand from 17 percent of total global demand in 2015 to 22 percent in 2020, despite low to no volumetric growth in total demand. Asia-Pacific is expected to have more than a 6 percent compound annual growth rate for synthetics and nearly a 9 percent CAGR for semi-synthetics over that time.

Penetration of semi-synthetic lubricants is increasing in a variety of markets, including countries in Asia-Pacific, South America, Africa and the Middle East. We are seeing the formulations used almost as a bridge type of product to introduce consumers to the benefits of these products, Morvey said. Its a little bit more affordable, a little easier to sell.

Synthetic and semi-synthetic lubricants penetration in the passenger car motor oil market reached 33 percent in 2015, up from 29 percent in 2013, despite low or no volumetric growth in overall PCMO demand.

The webinar covered two Kline reports: Global Lubricants: Market Analysis and Assessment, and Global Synthetic Lubricants: Market Analysis and Opportunities.

Related Topics

Business    Finished Lubricants