U.S. Lube Sales Rebounded in 2004


After a three-year slump, the U.S. lubricant industry rebounded in 2004 with sales volumes rising 1.8 percent, the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association reported last week.

Last years performance, documented in the associations 2004 Report on U.S. Lubricating Oil and Wax Sales, followed declines of 3.3 percent, 0.4 percent and 3.6 percent in 2001, 2002 and 2003, respectively.

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The report, released Nov. 9, pegged the U.S. lubricant market at 2.48 billion gallons. That total sales figure is meant to offer an estimate of overall size of the market. It differs from the comparative sales data, which serve as indicators of year-to-year trends.

The uptick in 2004 was led by a 3.9 percent increase in comparative sales of industrial lubricants – that is, volumes registered by companies that reported data for 2004 and 2003. Comparative sales of greases grew at a 3.6 percent clip, while automotive oils and process oils expanded by 1.2 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.

In the industrial lubricant segment, sales of general industrial oils rose 4.7 percent, sales of industrial engine oils 3.3 percent and metalworking fluids 1.2 percent.

Wax sales dipped 2.2 percent, while demand for aromatic oils increased 4.7 percent.

Total sales data showed multigrade crankcase oils comprising 40.9 percent of the overall market and crankcase monogrades another 2.6 percent. Aircraft engine oils, two-stroke gasoline oils and automotive gear oils combined to account for 2.4 percent of the market, while automotive transmission and hydraulic fluids made up 12.1 percent.

Process oils were the largest chunk of the industrial segment, constituting 17.8 percent of the overall market, while general industrial oils claimed 13.6 percent. Industrial engine oils, metalworking fluids and grease comprised 6.3 percent, 2.2 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

Copies of the 77-page report, which includes volumes, channels ofdistribution and quality levels,are now on sale for $25 to NPRA members and $300 to non-members. For information contact Dan Strachan at dstrachan@npra.org or at 202-457-0480.

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