Russians Warm to Lube Imports


MOSCOW – Foreign lubricant suppliers grabbed a bigger share of Russias market in 2007. Imports increased 33 percent over 2006, an InfoTek-Consult official told the World Refining Associations Base Oils and Lubricants in Russia and the CIS conference here April 16, and now account for 19 percent of demand.

Natalia A. Kapitonova, the head of InfoTeks Department for Oil Product Market Research, said Russia consumed 1,708,000 metric tons of lubricants in 2007, a decrease of 2.6 percent from the previous year. The firm estimated that 316,000 of those tons were imported.

ExxonMobil and Shell were by far the largest importers, with 74,000 and 52,800 metric tons, respectively. Castrol ranked third with 21,800 tons, followed by SK Energy with 19,100 tons.

Demand for foreign automotive lubricants rose at an even faster clip. Kapitonova said the country imported 246,000 tons of automotive lubes – mostly engine oils – last year, an increase of 45 percent from 2006. Russias consumption of foreign engine oils is rising in step with sales of foreign cars and trucks, which generally use foreign oils for factory fill and recommend them for aftermarket replacement.

Lukoil remained by far the largest domestic supplier of lubricants. The company produced 1,108,000 tons of lubes, including its base oil exports, Kapitnova said, and sold 476,000 tons in-country for a 28 percent share of the market. Rosneft was a distant second with domestic sales of 278,000 tons, followed by TNK-BP at 243,000 tons, Gazprom at 224,000 tons, Novoil at 142,000 tons and Russneft at 107,000 tons.

Rosnefts number two position was new for 2007 and was due to the companys acquisition of parts of Yukos lubricant business around mid-year.

Domestic companies continue to hold the top spots for in-country sales volumes of transportation lubricants, but foreign companies are gaining. Lukoil claimed a 26.7-percent stake of the market in 2007, followed by Rosneft (13.6 percent), Gazprom (9.5 percent), Novoil (8.7 percent) and TNK-BP (6.7 percent). Next came ExxonMobil (5.7 percent), Shell (4.3 percent) and SK (1.8 percent).

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