U.S. Lubes Dipped in 2002


Lubricant sales volumes in the United States dropped 0.4 percent in 2002, falling to the lowest level in a decade, according to the latest report from the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. The associations annual Report on U.S. Lubricating Oils and Wax Sales showed a slight increase in sales of automotive lubes and a somewhat larger increase for greases, but they were outweighed by a drop in sales for the industrial segment.

The new report, which was released yesterday, pegged total sales of lubricating oils and greases at 2.46 billion gallons last year, the lowest total since 1992. The 0.4-percent dip followed a drop of 3.3 percent in 2001 and a year of flat sales in 2000.

Sales of industrial lubricants fell 2.2 percent from 2001, with the subcategories of process oils, industrial engine oils, metalworking fluids and general industrial oils all decreasing. Sales of automotive lubes rose 0.8 percent, greases 2.7 percent. Sales of synthetic and synthetic blend lubricants jumped 5.2 percent and 9.6 percent, respectively.

Sales of multigraded engine oils rose 4 percent and now account for 41 percent of the total lubricant market. Sales of monograded engine oils slid 18.6 percent and are now just 3.5 percent of the market.

The associations report is the most comprehensive gauge of the U.S. lubricant market. The organization estimates that it captures 90 percent. It claims solid coverage of the automotive and industrial segments, while acknowledging that data on some small sub-categories, such as metalworking fluids, may be subject to significant error.

The 74-page document is on sale for $25 to NPRA members and $300 to non-members. For information, e-mail Dan Strachan at dstrachan@npra.org or phone (202) 457-0480.

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