ExMo’s Lubes Outsell Shell’s


ExxonMobil nudged ahead of Royal Dutch Shell last year to become the worlds largest lubricant marketer, according to a new study by Kline and Co.

The consulting company announced Friday its finding that ExxonMobil sold 4.5 million metric tons of finished lubes in 2005. That amounted to 12 percent of worldwide sales, Kline said, just ahead of Shell, which claimed 11 percent.

For 2005, ExxonMobil won out in terms of volume, thanks to their increased market share in the U.S., particularly in the factory fill and private-label segments, said Geeta Agashe, director of Klines Petroleum and Energy practice.

Shell had been the market leader since its 2002 acquisition of Pennzoil-Quaker State, which moved Shell ahead of ExxonMobil, Kline said.

Neither company publishes lubes sales data, so rankings are based on estimates by outside parties. Kline, which is based in Little Falls, N.J., is one of the most widely recognized sources of market data about the lubricants industry. Another respected source, Fuchs Petrolub AG, estimated that ExxonMobil was already ahead of Shell before last year.

Fuchs Strategic Marketing estimated that ExxonMobil barely outsold Shell in 2005, with the pair in a virtual tie at approximately 5.1 million tons. But Fuchs officials downplayed the significance of their 2004 ranking differing from Klines.

They are so close each year, said Apu Gosalia, head of the strategic marketing division. When you are talking about a difference of 100,000 [tons], all sorts of things can happen to affect the ranking. We just say that Shell and ExxonMobil are the two biggest marketers.

Shell did not respond to a request for comment from Lube Report, although Agashe said Kline informed Shell of its conclusion and that Shell agreed with it. An ExxonMobil spokesman said it had also reviewed Klines estimates and had no reason to refute them.

Klines study, Competitive Intelligence for the Global Lubricants Industry, 2005-2015, found the markets two biggest players with comfortable leads over other competitors. BP had the third-most sales, with 8 percent of the market in 2005. Rounding out the studys top 10 were Chevron, Total, PetroChina, Sinopec, LukOil, Fuchs and Valvoline.

Kline did find that Shell remains the leader in sales of branded lubricants. As Agashe noted, branded products typically have higher profit margins.

The study estimated that global lube demand rose 1 percent to 37.9 million tons last year. It found that Asia-Pacific consumes the biggest chunk of the total, 30 percent, with North America close behind at 29 percent. The study divided Europe into two regions – Western Europe and Central and Eastern Europe, including Russia – and found that each accounts for 13 percent of worldwide lube demand. South America accounts for 7 percent, the Middle East 4 percent and Africa 3 percent.

While reporting few movements in its rankings of the worlds largest marketers, Kline did underscore the entrance of one new firm into its top 20: Tongyi Beijing Petroleum Chemical Co., which it placed at 16. Agashe said Tongyis emergence reflects the rapid pace of growth in Chinese lube demand. Privately-owned Tongyi markets lubes under the Monarch brand, and, like state-owned PetroChina and Sinopec, virtually all of its sales are domestic.

The fact that their share of the market is derived entirely from sales in China shows the impact that Chinese demand is having on the global picture, Agashe said.

Kline said the United States remains the single-largest lubricant consuming country, with approximately one-fourth of global demand. But the firm predicted China will surpass it by 2020.

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