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2003: No Vintage Year

That hush last year was the sound of lubes not being sold, indicates the National Petrochemical & Refiners Associations 2003 Report on U.S. Lubricating Oil and Wax Sales. Total lubricant sales for 2003 decreased 3.6 percent compared to 2002, the group says.

Total sales reported by all 86 participants in the survey amounted to 2.49 billion gallons in 2003 (down from a total 2.63 billion reported by 59 companies in 2002). The surveys comparative data, which includes only companies responding in both of the years being compared, also showed faltering in every principal category: Automotive oils declined 3.4 percent and industrial oils dropped 3.6 percent in 2003 compared to 2002, while grease sales fell 4.5 percent.

The NPRA survey is the leading source of data for lubricant sales in the U.S., showing both historical data as well as trends of lubricating oil sales. The 60+ page report is $25 for NPRA members; $300 for non-members. Contact NPRAs Dan Strachan at dstrachan for details.

China BeckonsD.A. Stuart

Specialty lube supplier D.A. Stuart Co. is expanding into China. The Warrenville, Ill., company will provide all the capital ($6 million) to build a blending plant near Shanghai, breaking ground early next year. D.A. Stuart Co. (Shanghai) will make rolling oils and metalworking fluids, and serve as Stuarts headquarters for Asia. Partnering the venture is Shanghai Razor Blade Co., one of Chinas biggest manufacturers of consumer goods and a partner for the past 10 years of Stuarts parent company (Wil. Werhahn KG of Germany). Stuart officials said Shanghai Razor Blade brings experience with the Chinese government and knowledge of the local market and business practices to the joint venture.

Crompton Ups Antioxidants

Crompton Corp. says it will invest again in new alkylated diphenylamine antioxidant capacity – the fourth time in two years it has done so. This expansion, at its chemical plant in Geismar, La., will use equipment that formerly made rubber chemical intermediates, a business Crompton is scaling back. Company Vice President Janet Mann said the change will help meet demand for its Naugalube antioxidants, which has been spurred by the introduction of the new GF-4 passenger car motor oils. Cost of the project, to be complete in mid-2005, was not disclosed.

Australian Plant Closes

Royal Dutch/Shell has closed its 2,000-barrel-per-day base oil plant in Geelong, Australia, saying it was not cost-efficient to operate. Other refining operations at the Geelong complex will continue, it added, and the company will also continue making finished lubes at its blending plant in Brisbane. This is the third base oil plant to close in Australia since 2002, as BP and ExxonMobil also have closed plants there. Caltex owns the continents sole remaining base oil plant, a 3,000 b/d facility at Kurnell, near Sydney.

Mark Your Calendar

Get your passport ready! International lubricants meetings abound in the next few months.

Feb. 3-5. NLGI-India Chapters 7th Lubricating Grease Conference, this time at Cochin, India, is a must-do event for the globes sixth-largest lubricants market. Details:

Feb. 17-18. Ninth World Base Oils Conference, London, organized by ICIS-LOR, and tackling issues from short-term supply to long-range trends. Details: www.chemical

March 15-18. 11th Annual Fuels & Lubes Asia Conference, at the Peninsula Palace hotel in Beijing, China – the worlds hottest lubricants market. Details:

May 1-3. The European Lubricating Grease Institutes 17th Annual General Meeting will draw top industry experts to Edinburgh, Scotland. Details:

Faces in the News

Barbara A. Bellanti has been appointed president of Battenfeld Grease & Oil Corp. of New York. She joined the company in 1981, and held positions of increasing responsibility since then. An officer and board member of NLGI International, she holds an MBA from Canisius College. John A. Bellanti Jr., her brother, was named chief operating officer of the family-owned lubricant manufacturer.

American Refining Group tapped William F. Murray to be manager of crude oil operations, Western Div., responsible for ensuring consistent crude oil supply to the companys Bradford, Pa., refinery. He previously led Murray Energy, a consulting firm to the oil and gas industry.

Mark Pernik has joined chemical company Soltex Inc. in Houston as business manager, heading its efforts in synthetic oils, acetylene black and PMA lube additives. He most recently was with Chevron Phillips Chemical Co.

Mark Lucke of Strongsville, Ohio, is now regional sales manager for distributor Acme-Hardesty Co., covering a 12-state territory from New York to West Virginia to the Dakotas. He has 20 years experience in the industry, including positions at Witco and Cognis.

Richard Kraska, Ph.D., is forming Kraska Consultants Inc., based in Aurora, Ohio, and specializing in chemical and lubricant product safety and regulatory issues. The practice will launch upon Kraskas retirement from Lubrizol, at the end of this month.

David DeVore has become president of Functional Products Inc., the Macedonia, Ohio, lube additive manufacturer. DeVore takes over from Fred Litt, who retired Nov. 1.

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