NPRA: U.S. Lube Sales Down


U.S. lubricant sales volumes in the third quarter of 2006 fell 5.1 percent compared to the same period of 2005, according to the latest sales data from the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association.

The organization Dec. 20 released its Quarterly Lubricant Sales Survey showing that volumes for the third quarter fell across all major sectors of the market, though the grease sales decrease was negligible. The report uses 2002 as the base year. An index value of 100 represents the average quarterly volume for 2002, calculated by dividing the total volume for 2002 by four.

Each major category of the lubricants market did worse in the third quarter of last year than in the third quarter of 2005. Sales volumes for the automotive segment dropped 6.6 percent, while grease sales decreased 0.9 percent. Industrial lube sales decreased by 3.3 percent. Within the industrial segment, process oils were off by 2 percent. The industrial process oil index decreased to 85.1, down from 86.9 for 2005s third quarter.

Total third-quarter sales were down 9.5 percent from the quarterly average of 2002, base year for the survey.

The survey noted that the U.S. Energy Information Agency reported output of paraffinic and naphthenic base oils totaled 17.2 million barrels during the third quarter, a 22.9 percent increase from the same period of 2005. Wax production saw no change from the same period last year, remaining at 1.3 million barrels.

NPRA emphasizes that its quarterly reports are meant to be used as a gauge of market trends, rather than a measurement of total sales, because 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.

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