Lube Sales Slip Another Notch


Third-quarter lubricant sales volume in the United States dropped 4.3 percent from the same period of 2002, according to the latest statistics from the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association.

The groups Quarterly Index of Lubricant Sales, released Friday, showed that the trend for the past several years has been just as bleak.

Sales in the automotive segment were off 2.3 percent from the third quarter of 2002. Sales in the industrial segment dropped 7.6 percent overall, while grease sales fell 7 percent. Compared to the third quarter of 1997, the automotive segment was off by 1 percent, the industrial segment by 19.1 percent and grease sales by 35.7 percent.

Within the industrial segment, demand for industrial lubricants fell 7.7 percent during this years third quarter compared to last years, while sales of process oils dropped 7.6 percent.

The survey also noted that paraffinic base oil production slipped 0.2 percent from the third period of 2002 and that naphthenic production plunged 24.1 percent (mostly due to two plant closings). At 44.6 million barrels, the quarters combined production was down 4.9 percent year-to-year.

The surveys information on sales of finished lubricants is based on data provided by marketers who claim more than 75 percent of the U.S. market. Information on base oil production is taken from the U.S. Department of Energys Energy Information Administration.

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