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Adios to Base Oil Plant

Spanish refiner Cepsa will close its base oil plant in Palos de la Frontera in February, the company recently confirmed. The plant has capacity to make 2,800 barrels per day of paraffinic stocks, and is one of Cepsas two base oil holdings. (The other is a joint venture plant it owns with BP in the port city of Algeciras.) The plant being closed is part of La Rabida refinery, which is located in Huelva province. The facility has capacity to make small volumes of Group II base stocks (about 400 b/d), with the rest being Group I.

A spokeswoman told e-newsletter that the plant was closing because of economic and commercial circumstances, and that all workers employed at the base oil plant will be offered jobs elsewhere in the refinery.

2nd Quarter Lube Sales Dip

Depressed by faltering traffic in process oils, U.S. lubricant sales volumes dipped 0.2 percent in the second quarter of 2005, compared to the same period of 2004, according to the latest statistics from the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. The trade groups Quarterly Index of Lubricant Sales, released in mid-October, showed sales volumes of process oils dropping 6.4 percent for the three months ended June 30.

Excluding process oils, sales of lubricants and greases grew a modest 1 percent. Sales of automotive lubricants rose 2.3 percent compared to the second quarter of last year, while sales of industrial lubes fell 3.2 percent. Grease demand edged up 0.8 percent.

Gift for Hurricane Relief

Hurricane cleanup efforts along the Gulf Coast of the United States received an unique gift in October: A truckload of soy based chainsaw bar oil donated by Environmental Lubricants Manufacturing of Plainfield, Iowa. From Biloxi, Miss., the biobased lube was to be delivered to utility companies, fire departments and other groups involved in the cleanup.

We know the crews down there need as much chainsaw lubricant as they can get, said Lou Honary, ELM president and CEO. We want to help and we think these products will be well received because they meet or exceed industry performance standards, they are biobased so they dont impact the short petroleum supply, and they are environmentally friendly – which is very important in already-polluted areas. The soy product was developed at the University of Northern Iowa, and is commercialized under a license by ELM.

More Group III in Korea?

South Korea, already the worlds power hitter in Group III base oil, has another refiner preparing to join the business. GS Caltex is finalizing plans to build a 15,000 barrel per day plant at its oil refinery in Yeosu. The plant, which would make Group II stocks, too, could be operating by the end of 2007.

Formerly known as LG Caltex Oil, GS Caltex is a 50-50 joint venture between Chevrons Caltex subsidiary and GS Holdings, the energy business spun off last year by South Korean conglomerate LG Corp. It blends and markets lubricants but does not yet produce base oil, so having its own supply would give it some independence. The Yeosu supply could also be tapped by Chevron in the region, and/or be made available for export.

Yeosu is located in the central part of South Koreas southern coast. In October, GS Caltex announced plans for a $1.25 billion upgrade of its refinery there.

A GS Caltex executive emphasized that the base oil project had not yet received final approval but expects it soon. The proposed base oil plant may include a dewaxing unit equipped with Chevron Lummus Globals Isodewaxing technology and catalyst.

South Korea has two existing base oil plants: SK Corp.s 17,000 b/d plant in Ulsan, which makes mostly Group III stocks, and S-Oil Corp.s 24,500 b/d Group II and Group III facility in Onsan.

Oronites Back

Lubricant blenders were cheered in late October, as Chevron Oronite said it had completed repairs at its Oak Point plant in Belle Chasse, La., and the facility sustained full-scale operations – for the first time since Hurricane Katrina.

The completion of repairs was a big step toward alleviating what may be the largest of the many disruptions that have stricken the U.S. lubricants industry in recent months. However, Oronite said a force majeure declaration remains in effect for its global business and that it still cannot predict when it will be lifted.

Vice President of Manufacturing and Supply Bill Schumacher provided details in an Oct. 20 interview with, with particular focus on the Oak Point facility, located just southeast of New Orleans.

This was our first full week of full-scale operations since we shut down ahead of Katrina, he said, referring to the storm that struck the Gulf of Mexico coast Aug. 29. In terms of production, the plant is about back to normal.

Logistics and traffic in and out of the plant were still a bit of an issue, Schumacher added. And revival of the plant was a monumental task. The plant could not reopen to full staffing until the beginning of October, and many of the plants 300 employees were still homeless at that point. So Oronite established a temporary village on-site, bringing in trailers and modular homes to house 50 employees and contractors plus their families – approximately 200 people altogether. Beside shelter, the company provides food, water and sewage treatment.

Munzing, Ultra Take on China

Munzing Chemie, parent of foam control additive supplier Ultra Additives, has opened an office in Shanghai and plans to install laboratory facilities there before the end of 2005 to serve the entire Asia region.

Until now, Munzing, headquartered in Heilbronn, Germany, has been marketing its additives for metalworking fluids, industrial lubricants, wastewater treatment, and leather and fur production in Asia through distributors. Its Ultra Additives business unit, based in Bloomfield, N.J., manufactures Foam Ban, Foamtrol and other branded foam control additives for metalworking fluids and industrial lubricants. Munzing announced that it will begin manufacturing some additives in Shanghai by 2007, but an Ultra Additives spokesman said those plans do not currently include foam control additives.

Test Your Laboratory

Wonder how well your companys laboratory does in performing standardized tests on hydraulic oils – especially compared to other labs? Find out now by registering for two new ASTM Interlaboratory Crosscheck programs: Hydraulic Fluids/Oils, and In-service Hydraulic Fluids and Oils.

At three times over the next year, program participants will receive a new commercial grade hydraulic fluid, plus test instructions for each cycle; for the In-Service Oil monitoring test, theyll get representative samples of used or in-service fluid. For each crosscheck program, participating labs perform a prescribed set of tests, and then submit their results from the completed tests to ASTM. In return, they get a summary report of the results and a statistical analysis of how their own lab stacks up in terms of accuracy and precision versus the others in the crosscheck group. This can help labs to pinpoint areas for improvement in their testing efforts, boost quality and save money.

Registration costs $534 per laboratory per program. For details or to register, phone Helen Mahy of ASTM International at (610) 832-9683. E-mail:

Faces in the News

Ryan Chun has joined Lambent Technologies, the Gurnee, Ill., based maker of specialty chemicals for lubricants, as technical sales representative for the Southwest region. Chun has more than 10 years experience in the chemical industry, and holds degrees in both chemical engineering and business administration.

Ronald Chip Huffman is the new retail marketing manager for Valvolines new channels group, focusing on developing non-traditional retailers such as convenience stores, hardware and wholesale clubs. His background includes work with consumer product giants Clorox and Coty Beauty.

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