Grease Production Slips in 08

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Total reported grease production worldwide reached 2.25 billion pounds (1 billion kilograms) in 2008, and was 2.3 billion pounds in 2007, according to the latest grease production survey from NLGI International. Lithium greases continued to dominate worldwide, accounting for 73 percent of the total.

Lithium soap grease production in 2008 totaled 1.6 billion pounds. Calcium soap production totaled 249.9 million pounds or 11 percent, aluminum soap reached 90.1 million pounds or 4 percent, and polyurea totaled 115.3 million pounds or 4 percent. Other metallic soaps, clay and other non-soap thickeners made up the rest.

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On a comparative basis, worldwide production slipped 2.2 percent, North American grease production declined 5.1 percent, while production in Europe slipped 3.1 percent in 2008 from 2007.

The latest Grease Production Survey Report from Kansas City, Mo.-based NLGI International covers calendar years 2005 through 2008, breaking production data down by geographic region and by thickener type.

The report shows comparative information on a worldwide basis, as well as in North America and Europe. Comparative data is the reported production for those companies reporting data for each year from 2005 through 2008.

Worldwide
Polyurea grease production worldwide rose 13.3 percent to 115.3 million pounds in 2008, compared to 2007.

Calcium soap grease production showed the largest decline from 2007 to 2008, falling 9.2 percent to 243.9 million pounds. Within the category, calcium sulfonate grease remained virtually unchanged at 30.6 million pounds. Anhydrous calcium soap grease jumped up 28.2 percent to 45.7 million pounds, and hydrated calcium soap saw a steep 19.6 percent decline to 130.9 million pounds.

Aluminum soap grease production worldwide decreased 3.5 percent to 87.4 million pounds, while lithium soap grease slipped 2.5 percent to 1.6 million pounds, from 2007 to 2008.

North America
While overall North American grease production in 2008 was down more than 5 percent from 2007, some categories remained stable or showed slight growth.

Calcium soap grease production in North America rose 2.5 percent from 2007 to 45.2 million pounds. Within that category, calcium sulfonate slipped 3.4 percent to 24.8 million pounds, though it does remain a healthy 18.6 percent higher than its 20.9 million pound total in 2005. Aluminum soap grease production remained virtually unchanged from 2007 to 2008.

Polyurea grease production fell nearly 12 percent to 27.8 million pounds, while total lithium soap production in North America declined 7.7 percent to 312.1 million pounds, from 2007 to 2008.

Europe
On a comparative basis, Europes total grease production in 2008 was down 3.1 percent from the year before.

Total aluminum soap grease was virtually unchanged at 23.6 million pounds. While it accounts for less than 6 percent of the total aluminum soap grease production, conventional aluminum soap in Europe did see a hefty 75 percent increase to 1.4 million pounds in 2008.

Total calcium soap grease production in Europe slid 5.7 percent to 66.5 million pounds in 2008. Total lithium soap grease was down 1 percent in Europe. On the other hand, calcium sulfonate climbed 5 percent to 2.2 million pounds.

Summary of 2008 Total Reported Global Grease Production

Region

Co.s Included

Production in millions of pounds

%

Aluminum

%
Calcium

% Lithium

% Poly-urea

%

Other

N. America

39

491

9%

10%

66%

6%

10%

Europe

45

467

6%

15%

68%

3%

9%

Carrib.,
Cent., S. America

8

96

<1%

12%

77%

<1%

11%

Africa, Mid East

7

74

<1%

31%

57%

0%

12%

India & Region

12

214

<1%

4%

89%

0%

7%

Japan

17

176

2%

7%

60%

25%

7%

Pacific, S.E. Asia

9

121

4%

24%

64%

0%

7%

P.R. of China

30

612

1%

8%

83%

<1%

7%

Total World

167

2,251

4%

11%

73%

4%

9%

Due to rounding, the percentages may not add up to 100 percent.

Joe Lurz Jr., president of Cypress, Texas-based J&A Consultants, which compiles the annual report for NLGI International, noted that 11 companies that participated in the survey during the years 2004-2007 did not participate in the 2008 survey. He stated that the 2008 production of those 11 companies may have added an estimated 45 million pounds of lubricating greases, or 2 percent of the global total.

Copies of the 25 page report can be purchased from NLGI for $150 (nonmembers) or $75 (members). To order, visit http://www.nlgi.org and select NLGI Store.