U.S. Sales Rebound in Second Quarter


The sagging U.S. lubricant market may have finally reached bottom. Sales during the second quarter increased 3 percent from the same period of 2003, according to the latest statistics from the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. Demand had fallen for at least 14 consecutive quarters.

NPRAs Quarterly Index of Lubricant Sales, released Oct. 4, showed sales of automotive lubricants for the April-to-June period were up 4.9 percent year-to-year, while industrial lubricants rose 6.6 percent. Grease sales jumped 14.7 percent, an especially refreshing change for a category that has shrunk 31.5 percent since 1997. Process oils were the only category to decline in the second quarter, dropping 7.5 percent.

Base oil production also increased, climbing 6.6 percent from the second quarter of 2003 to 15.3 million barrels. Paraffinic output rose 7.2 percent, naphthenics 3.4 percent.

Total lubricant sales for this years second quarter were 10.2 percent below the same period of 1997, the index year for the survey. Most of the drop off came since 2001, as demand fell throughout the U.S. recession and even into the mild economic recovery.

Sales of automotive lubes have dropped the least, with this years second quarter down 2.1 percent from the second quarter of 1997. Industrial lube sales were off by 22.2 percent, process oils by 19.4 percent.

NPRA emphasizes that its quarterly reports are meant to be used as a gauge of market trends, rather than a measurement of total sales, due to the fact that relatively few marketers participate. The association says that volumes covered by the quarterly reports account for more than 72 percent of those covered in its more comprehensive annual report on lubricating oil sales.

Related Topics

Market Topics