ExMo: Top Dog in the Base Oil Pack


ExxonMobil is still top dog in the global base oil market, but the Royal Dutch/Shell family closed the gap a bit the past year.

ExxonMobil remains by far the worlds largest supplier, controlling capacity of nearly 150,000 barrels per day, according to LubesnGreases 2006 Guide to Global Base Oil Refining. The worlds biggest energy company stood pat on base oil assets over the past year, adding just 500 b/d to its total capacity.

Second-ranked Shell gained ground thanks to an enormous expansion by Motiva, its 50-50 U.S. joint venture with Saudi Refining, Inc.

Meanwhile, BP increased the size of its base oil deficit by closing its last wholly owned plant.

The 2006 guide, a 22-by-33-inch chart developed in cooperation with British consulting firm Pathmaster Marketing Ltd., includes data on 151 plants, listing location and capacity by grade. This years chart pegs total global capacity at approximately 927,000 b/d, an increase of 0.8 percent from last year. (The chart does not include Bharat Petroleums new 3,500-b/d Mumbai plant, which opened after the document went to press.)

ExxonMobils share of global capacity decreased slightly, but it still controls 16 percent of the market, with 147,200 b/d capacity at nine wholly-owned plants, four joint ventures and two plants operated by Canadian refiner Imperial Oil, of which ExxonMobil is controlling stakeholder.

Shell and its affiliates control 83,100 b/d, up from 78,500 b/d a year ago. Motiva completed a 15,300-b/d expansion at the Port Arthur plant in March, more than offsetting the closing late last year of a 5,060-b/d Shell plant in Hamburg, Germany. (It should be noted that, although Shell buys some base oil from Motiva to use in its own lubricants, the joint venture sells much of its product to other customers, and U.S. fair trade laws require that sales to Shell be conducted at arms length.)

The rest of the worlds biggest producers remained well back from Shell, and their ranking was little changed from last year. PetroChina is third with 12 plants and capacity of 57,200 b/d. Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. is fourth with 42,400 b/d through four wholly-owned plants, a 50-percent stake in Swedish refiner Nynas, and rights to market all product from the 4,600-b/d Lyondell-Citgo plant in Houston. Citgo is PDVSAs wholly owned subsidiary in the United States.

LukOil has controlling shares of three Russian plants with combined capacity of 28,100 b/d, putting it in a virtual tie with Chinas Sinopec, which has eight plants. South Korean refiner S-Oil has one plant with 24,500 b/d of capacity, edging out Brazils Petrobras, which has four facilities and 20,900 b/d.

SK Corp. slipped ahead of Chevron for ninth after an expansion boosted capacity at its Ulsan, South Korea, plant to 19,700 b/d. Chevron owns one plant each in the United States and Australia and part of a South African joint venture for a total of 18,500 b/d.

BP is the worlds third-largest lubricant manufacturer (after Shell and ExxonMobil). It was already the biggest net purchaser of base oils, but its deficit widened with the closing last year of its 10,300-b/d plant in Coryton, U.K. Its only remaining base oil stakes are a 50-50 joint venture with Shell in Durban, South Africa, and a three-way partnership with Repsol and Total in Cartagena, Spain. Those concerns give it rights to 2,630 b/d.

Motivas Port Arthur plant was already the worlds largest base oil facility, but the expansion raised it high above its rivals. At 40,300 b/d, it is now 64 percent bigger than the second-biggest plant, S-Oils facility in Onsan, South Korea. Ranking third is Excel Paralubes, a 50-50 joint venture between ConocoPhillips and Flint Hills Resources, with its 21,900-b/d plant in Westlake, La.

ExxonMobil owns four of the worlds 10 largest plants – its facilities in Baytown, Texas; Jurong, Singapore; Augusta, Italy; and Baton Rouge, La. There were two changes in the top 10 this year. SKs plant jumped two spots to number 5, and Petro-Canadas plant in Mississauga, Ontario, moved to tenth after a 3,100-b/d expansion raised its capacity to 15,600 b/d. LukOils Volgograd plant dropped out of the top 10 when its capacity was reduced to 13,600 b/d.

For information on ordering the 2006 Guide to Global Base Oil Refining, click here.

Related Topics

Market Topics