Growing Europes Rerefining Industry


SEVILLE, Spain – Customizing rerefined base oils and opening new niche markets are key targets for Europes rerefining industry, Christian Hartmann, honorary president of GEIR (Groupement Europen de l’Industrie de la Rgnration), the European rerefining industry section of the Independent Union of the European Lubricants Industry, told the UEIL 2007 Congress last month.

Europes rerefining sector employs about 3,500 (including waste oil collection and administration), and puts out 450,000 metric tons per year of base oils, with annual sales of 200 million (U.S. $295 million) to 250 million (U.S. $369 million), Hartmann said.

With modern technologies, rerefined base oils could be customized and open niche markets, especially for small and medium size blenders, Hartmann said, citing metalworking applications as one possible niche market example. Hartmann is president of Puralube Holding GmBH, which operates a rerefinery near Frankfurt, Germany.

Other key targets for the industry include rolling out technology, supporting and improving proper used oil collection, participating in a resource-saving network and helping spread the idea of recycling.

According to Hartmann, rerefining accounts for only about 10 percent of the lubricants market in West Europe, mainly in Germany (150,000 mt/y) and in Italy (80,000 mt/y). In the case of Italy, he said, a strong tax incentive encourages rerefining.

A stable European legislation must emerge from the present discussion in the course of 2008, which guarantees a certain price stability to encourage investments versus burning, Hartmann said. Use of rerefined base oil reduces CO2 emissions by 40 percent, compared to virgin base oil, he said.

The present technology is modern, with good control of the waste, like the UOP HyLube process – hydroprocessing and improved solvent refining – used by Puralube, he said.

Hartmann summarized the recent announcements of several new plants in Europe:

  • Osilube, the Total/Veolia joint venture near Rouen in France, which will start a 120,000 mt/y plant in 2008 using the U.S. Probex process.
  • Whelan Refining near Stoke-on-Trent in the United Kingdom was reengineered to start to produce 50,000 mt/y in the second part of 2007.
  • Puralube 2, a 40,000 mt/y addition to an existing 70,000 mt/y plant in Troeglitz, Germany, is scheduled to go on stream in September 2008. Thanks to the good UOP process used, Puralube 2 will be available to produce Group II oils, Hartmann said.
  • L&T Recoil Oy Ltd., a Finnish joint venture of Lassila & Tikanoja and key personnel from GT Trading Oy, plans to build a 60,000 mt/y waste oil rerefinery in Hamina, Finland, scheduled to open in early 2008.

We can expect announcement of other projects in East Europe in the future, Hartmann added.

Rerefining still faces a variety of challenges. Plants producing below Group I level will have to be closed, he continued. He recommended providing stronger support for proper waste oil collection and giving preference to rerefining as the most favorable way of waste oil disposal. Burning is not always done in a proper way regarding emissions, metals in particular, he said.

Hartmann also urged supporting rerefining and recycling politically through future European legislation via a European fee.

GEIR members represent about 90 percent of the total rerefining capacity in Europe.

George Gill contributed to this story.

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