Chevron Eyes Europe’s E9


LONDON – Chevrons planned 25,000 barrel per day API Group II base oil plant in Pascagoula, Miss., wont open its doors before late 2011, but its marketing team is already touting a proposed API Group II+ base stock aimed at Europes new, high performance ACEA E9 engine oil specification.

Brent Lok, Chevrons Richmond, Calif.-based global base oil marketing manager, gave an update to the ICIS World Base Oils & Lubricants Conference here last week on the Pascagoula project and Chevrons plan to supply premium base oils to Europe.

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We have a long history with premium base oil, Lok said. We invented the standard technology. Others now have theirs, but we were there first. All modern base oil plants use Chevrons trademarked Isodewaxing technology or a competitors comparable technology, he added.

Key features of the hydroprocessing technology include using no solvents; reshaping molecules rather than removing them; and converting wax into high quality isoparaffins. Hydroprocessing converts impurities to high-quality base oil, said Lok, and while you cannot use all crudes, the process is flexible – you can make the same products from many crude sources.

The new Pascagoula plant on the U.S. Gulf of Mexico will produce 25,000 b/d beginning in late 2011. We are on schedule, said Lok. With the economic slowdown, we dont see any reason for delay. Its a strategic investment for the corporation.

Pascagoula will supply Europe, Latin America and the U.S. Gulf and East Coast. Chevrons 20,000 b/d Richmond, Calif., plant will focus on the U.S. West Coast and the Asia-Pacific region. The companys 17,000 b/d Yeosu, Korea, joint venture, GS Caltex, will supply the balance.

ACEA E9 is the driver for the introduction of Group II into Europe, said Lok. The extremely low-sulfur base oil allows additive suppliers to be flexible and not fight the base stock. Group II base oils are ideal for ACEA E9.

Engine oil formulations using all Group II and II+ base oils can be optimized for European 5W and 10W lubricants, Lok noted. For example, a European 10W engine oil formulated with Group II and a small amount of Group II+ can offer both higher performance and lower cost than one formulated with Group I and III, he contended. You get a significant cost savings and comparable performance formulating a European 5W engine oil with a little Group II, a lot of Group II+ and a little Group III, compared to an all-Group III formulation. The purity of Group II reduces the need for Group III, except in the lightest grades – although you do have to inventory a lot of Group II base stock.

Lok turned to Chevrons proposed low volatility Group II+ base stock designed for Europe. We have optimized volatility and low temperature characteristics to meet premium 5W applications, he said. The 110 grade is very similar to Group III to meet European requirements. Chevron has narrow-cut its base stock to get low volatility, rather than raise viscosity index.

The company has full qualifications for some heavy duty and passenger car motor oil specifications, and continues to work on others, Lok said. All four major additive suppliers have E9 qualifications with Chevron Group II base oils. By 2011, he claimed, the combined capacity at three plants will make Chevron the largest premium base oil supplier, enabling customers to have global additive platforms and meet global engine specifications.

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