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Airframe Grease Update

S AE Internationals AMS-M Committee on Aerospace Greases, a group which includes grease suppliers and aircraft manufacturers, has finished developing a standard for general-purpose airframe greases. Already in use at Boeing and Airbus, the standard should receive final SAE approval early this year, indicates committee Chairman Geoff Bishop, of Shell Aviation Ltd. in London.

The standard, which will be assigned a number upon adoption, was based on an earlier Boeing specification, BMS3-33. One of its goals is to counteract the proliferation of airframe lubes prescribed for aircraft – a trend that has required the use of scores of lubricants on some commercial planes. The standard will help streamline lube inventories, and reduce the risk of applying the wrong grease product. Boeing says it will allow operators to use a single grease on all but nine of the 359 lubrication points on Boeing 737s.

The effort to develop the standard was launched by the European Lubricating Grease Institute and later moved into SAE. It gained impetus after the January 2000 crash of an Alaska Airlines flight off the California coast focused attention on aircraft lubrication practices.

The groups next task: developing a spec for aviation wheel-bearing greases. It hopes to complete that standard in two years.

Will Citgo Upgrade Lake Charles?

Citgo Petroleum Corp. confirmed last month that it is considering upgrading its Lake Charles, La., base oil plant to produce API Group II and Group III oils. It has contracted an engineering firm to evaluate its options, and could make a decision before the end of this year.

The U.S. subsidiary of the Venezuelan national oil company Petroleos de Venezuela S.A., Citgo owns one base oil plant – the Lake Charles facility, which has capacity to make 9,500 barrels per day of Group I stocks. Many industry observers speculate that such base oil plants will have to be upgraded or may close in coming years as the U.S. lubricant market shifts toward premium products.

Citgo Special Markets Manager Russ Doerr told Lube Report last month that his companys own internal analysis seems to favor the upgrade, but the engineers independent advice will help it weigh three courses of action: adding hydrocracking to raise the quality of base oils to Group II-plus and Group III; adding hydrotreating to produce Group II-plus; or making no changes.

Were already adding hydrocracking for the fuels refinery, he pointed out, which makes that a very attractive option for the base oil plant as well.

Citgo says it has been gaining lubricant market share in the past few years, to become the fourth-largest seller of finished lubes and process oils in the United States.

Petro-Canada Inks Deals

Petro-Canada has entered contracts with two European distributors – one in Italy, the other in northern Germany.

The Italian company is Emanuele Mascherpa S.p.A., a family-owned importer of chemicals, machine tools and mechanical components. Mascherpa officials said the link with Petro-Canada should help their company expand into the industrial maintenance sector and continue growing as a distribution company in Italy.

Petro-Canadas Purity FG food-grade lubricants and other products will be carried by Leprinxol GmbH of Bremen, Germany, a developer and marketer of lubes for industrial and automotive applications.

All of the lubricants come from Petro-Canadas plant in Mississauga, Ontario. It claims to be the eighth-largest lube manufacturer in the world.

More Group III in Asia?

A dd Taiwan and Malaysia to the list of Asian countries soon to be producing premium base oils. Malaysias national oil company, Petronas, plans to build a plant with capacity to produce 6,500 barrels per day, most of it Group III. The project would immediately make Petronas one of the largest suppliers of Group III oils.

While Petronas has not commented on the project, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering issued a news release Oct. 26 stating that Petronas has selected a complete production train of its lube technologies for its grass-roots catalytic base stock plant. Foster Wheeler, which is to build the plant, said construction is to begin in early 2006 and the plant to open by mid-2007.

Formosa Petrochemical also will use ExxonMobil R&E catalytic technology, at a new $250 million, 10,000 b/d plant to open on Taiwan by the end of 2007. Formosa Petrochemical is a subsidiary of the largest private company in Taiwan, Formosa Plastics Group, and the nations second-largest producer of oil products.

We know there will be a lot of competition, K.Y. Lin, director of the presidents office of Formosa Petrochemical, told Lube Report, but we are confident that our costs will make us very competitive.

MAP Deal Looks Iffy

I t appears that Marathon

Ashland Petroleums assets – including its 8,800 barrel-a-day base oil plant in Catlettsburg, Ky. – will not become wholly owned by Marathon, as its co-owners hoped. The joint ventures partners announced last March that they had reached a tentative agreement for Ashland to divest its 38 percent share in MAP. Among other conditions, the deal hinged on obtaining a favorable tax ruling from the Internal Revenue Service.

On Dec. 20, however, Ashland announced that the IRS has advised it that wont happen, and so the $3 billion deal is unlikely to close. Ashland will consider alternatives for the transfer of its interest to Marathon, but warned that it may not identify an alternative deal. If the IRS decision does doom the divestiture, it could also forestall a significant restructuring plan by Ashland, the parent company of motor oil marketer Valvoline.

Shell to Trim Base Oil Output

S hell Deutschland Oil will cease base oil production this year at the smaller of two base oil plants it operates outside Hamburg, Germany, as part of a plan to streamline operations at the adjacent facilities. The company will stop making base oils at a former RWE-DEA plant (capacity 2,800 barrels per day) acquired as a result of a 2001 merger. However, Shell says it will continue producing base oils at the larger, 5,000 to 6,000 b/d facility nearby, commonly referred to as Harburg after the Hamburg suburb where it is located.

Carolina Garrigou, global base oils and wax marketing manager for Shell Europe, mentioned the action during a presentation last month at the ILMA & ICIS-LOR Base Oils Conference in Orlando, Fla. She suggested that the loss of capacity at the former RWE-DEA plant will sharpen Germanys need to import base oils. The country is by far Europes biggest finished lubricant producer but ranks fourth in base oil production there.

Faces in the News

Infineum begins the new year with a new chief executive officer: Dominique Fournier has been appointed to replace A.J. Tony Gaskell, who headed the additive company since its formation in 1999 and retired at the end of 2004. Fournier most recently was worldwide vice president, adhesion industry, for ExxonMobil Chemical, Shell Chemicals partner in the Infineum joint venture.

ChevronTexaco has picked Andrew Tong to be vice president of global base oils, replacing Brian Chase who was named vice president of Asia-Pacific for ChevronTexaco Global Lubricants last year. Tong will be based at the companys San Ramon, Calif., headquarters. Lubrizol Chairman William Bares retired at the end of 2004, after 41 years with the company. As expected, company President and CEO James L. Hambrick was named to succeed Bares as chairman, effective Jan. 3.

Specialty chemical distributor Sea-Land Chemical, Westlake, Ohio, has hired Christy Henley as sales representative, responsible for accounts from Maine to Virginia plus eastern Pennsylvania and eastern New York. She has seven years experience in the industry.

Prof. Hugh A. Spikes, head of the tribology section at the Univ. of Londons Imperial College, has been awarded the International Tribology Councils prestigious Tribology Gold Medal. The group cited Spikes for many outstanding achievements, especially his work on the development and use of interferometric technology and his research into very thin tribofilms.

Valvoline has named company veteran Mitchell K. Skaggs to be vice president of worldwide operations and supply chain, replacing James V. Rocco who is to retire early this year. Skaggs has been with the company for 20 years, most recently as vice president of business transformation.

Also, consumer marketing executive Scott Vogel has come aboard as president of the quick-lubes business unit, Valvoline Instant Oil Change, while John Q. Wesley, VIOCs former president, was named senior vice president and general manager for the Do-It-for-Me Distributor Group. Wesley, who joined the company in 1982, will be responsible for sales of all Valvoline brands and services as well as antifreeze through distributors to the DIFM channel.

John Kirk has joined Chevron-Texaco Global Lubricants as operations manager for Canada, with oversight of all Canadian manufacturing, warehousing and distribution facilities as well as supply chain management. Formerly with Battenfeld Grease and Oil Corp. of N.Y., he also serves as an officer of the Petroleum Packaging Council. Acme-Hardesty has promoted Bryan Huston to vice president of sales and marketing, in charge of all U.S. sales, marketing and business development efforts. He joined the oleochemical distributor in 2000. The Blue Bell, Pa., based firm also named Thomas Winkel as vice president of supply chain. He came to the company in 2003, from W.R. Grace & Co.

John Stoffa joined International Petroleum Products and Additives Co. (IPAC) as national accounts manager, handling sales and technical support in the U.S. Northeast and Midwest. His long experience in the industry includes 19 years at Lubrizol and four with Elco.

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