A European Commission committee met on Sept. 6 to discuss whether to renew, amend or abolish a tariff exemption for API Group II base oil imports to the bloc. The waiver is set to expire in December, and ideas to implement a quota are under discussion.
Like others around the world, Russias lubricant market is shifting toward API Group II and Group III base oils, and a consultant predicts that this will lead to further Group I rationalization and reduction of Russian Group I exports.
ExxonMobil announced last week that it has increased low-viscosity polyalphaolefin production capacity at its Gravenchon, France, plant by 19 percent to 105,000 metric tons per year.
Lukoil sold 875,000 metric tons of finished lubricants in 2018, up from 863,000 tons in 2017, according to the Russian companys latest performance report. It attributed the increase to growing domestic demand for petrochemical products.
Simmering tensions between Iran and the United States are stoking fears of cargo interruptions among major base oil traders. Insurance and ship charter costs are already spiraling, and analysts warn that escalation in the standoff could see facilities such as refining assets targeted.
Nynas naphthenic business segment, which primarily supplies base oils, reported 328 million Swedish krona (U.S. $35 million) in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization for full year 2018, down more than 59 percent from SEK 807 million for 2017. U.S. sanctions against one of its parent companies, Petroleos de Venezuela, took a heavy toll, according to the annual report that Nynas filed last week.
Finnish refiner Neste announced the settlement of a previously undisclosed dispute with Bahrain Petroleum Co. and Nogaholding, its partners in a joint venture API Group III base oil project in Sitra, Bahrain.
Ineos agreed last week to build a linear alpha olefin plant and a polyalphaolefin plant in Saudi Arabia as part of a larger petrochemical project being developed by Saudi Aramco and Total. The PAO plant would be the first such facility in the Middle East.
The Russian government last month banned exports of petrochemical products, including lubricants and slack waxes, to Ukraine. Some industry insiders called it worrisome for Russian lube suppliers while others said the rules are vague and do not clearly show what is embargoed.
Higher insurance premiums could put upward pressure on prices for API Group II and III base stocks from the Middle East Gulf after last weeks decision by Londons marine insurance market to widen its list of areas around the gulf that pose perceived enhanced risk for marine insurers.