Its Shell by a Nose


Shell remained the leader in global market share of finished lubricants in 2008, with a 13 percent share, edging out second place ExxonMobil, reported consultancy Kline and Co., which estimated the global market at 38.2 million metric tons in 2008, down 2.6 percent from 2007.

Klines study, Competitive Intelligence for the Global Lubricants Industry, 2008-2018, found that Shell remained ahead of its biggest competitor, ExxonMobil, which had an estimated 11 percent market share in 2008. Rounding out the top five were BP at 8 percent, Chevron at 6 percent and Petro-China at 4 percent. Total also has a 4 percent market share but is below Petro-China from a volume standpoint.

The Asia-Pacific region is expected to continue to show the most robust growth on a volumetric basis, according to Klines study. The impact of the global recession has been less severe in China and India. Together, the two account for 18.4 percent of global lubricant consumption. The study noted that the markets in the United States, Germany, Russia, and Japan show the largest declines due to the onset of recession.

Of the three market segments, the consumer automotive segment seems to be the least impacted as compared to the commercial automotive and industrial oils and fluids segment, the study suggested. On the whole, the consumer automotive segment is expected to recover more quickly due to the growing sale of new vehicles in Asia, the fact that gas prices are lower compared to last year, and that public transportation is still not well developed in many countries, Geeta Agashe, vice president of Klines energy research practice, told Lube Report.

Agashe noted that while synthetics show growth opportunities, semi-synthetics have suffered. In addition, conventional branded products have taken a significant hit, she continued. On the other hand, trusted private label brands like Wal-Marts have increased sales.

She noted that the commercial automotive and industrial oils and fluids segment will take the longest to recover. Klines study found that the slump in auto manufacturing, construction, and general industrial machinery industries have led to a slump in the trucking, quarrying, aggregates, mining, chemicals, fabricated metals, and primary metals industries.

Process oils and metalworking fluids in the industrial segment and ATF in the automotive segment seem to be the most impacted by the recession, as well as by a significant loss in factory-fill volumes, said Agashe. The food processing and power transmission industries seem to be the least impacted. Also, we believe that the large majors with a balanced portfolio will be the least impacted, and the niche marketers who are specialized and as an example only active in the process oils or metalworking fluids segments, or primarily active in those countries which have felt the brunt of the recession will have to fight hard to survive, said Agashe. She noted this might indeed be a great time for companies to seek acquisition targets and stay the course, as the markets will re-bound eventually.

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