Ethyl Launches Metalworking Line


Ethyl Corp. announced Monday that it is entering the metalworking fluid additives market, one of the first major launches from its product pipeline since the company downsized three years ago.

The Richmond, Va., company has long been one of the worlds biggest suppliers of additive packages for automotive and industrial lubricants, but has not previously created products specifically for the metalworking industry. Now the company will sell a line of emulsifiers, extreme pressure and antiwear agents, corrosion inhibitors and demist, quench and lubricity additives under the TecGard brand name.

Officials said they believed this an opportune time to enter the market because of the closure last year of Shell Oils Martinez, Calif., base oil plant. In addition to naphthenic base oils, the facility was the continents major supplier of natural sodium sulfonates, which were widely used as emulsifiers and corrosion inhibitors in metalworking fluids. Since losing that source, many metalworking fluids blenders have switched to synthetic sulfonates, a change that usually requires reformulation.

With the industry reformulating to replace natural sulfonates, this seems like the perfect time to introduce new solutions to the marketplace, said Ian Macpherson, Ethyls market manager.

The move to enter a new market comes after several years of retrenching by Ethyl. Citing a downturn in sales and tighter margins, the company downsized and suspended its dividend in 2001. It also restructured its long-term debt and, in early 2003, sold its phenolic antioxidants business to Albemarle Corp.

Recently, Ethyl’s petroleum additives segment has seen improvements. The company’s net sales were up in all major petroleum additive product lines for the first nine months of 2003, its best results in four years.

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