Market Topics



U.S. Lube Sales Level Off

Lubricant sales volumes in the United States leveled off in 2004, slipping a mere 0.5 percent after four consecutive years of significant declines, according to data from the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. Finished lubricant sales actually twitched up 0.4 percent from 2003.

The nations overall demand for lubes was dragged down by a sizable drop in consumption of process oils in 2004, compared to 2003. Released March 23, NPRAs Quarterly Index of Lubricant Sales showed a 4.2 percent drop in process oil volumes for the year as a whole. Sales across the rest of the market actually grew a wee bit – the automotive sector by 0.3 percent, industrial lubricants by 0.6 percent and greases by 2.5 percent.

NPRA emphasizes that its quarterly reports are meant to be used as a gauge of market trends, rather than a measurement of total sales, due to the fact that relatively few marketers participate. The association says that volumes covered by the quarterly reports account for more than 72 percent of those covered in its more comprehensive annual Report on Lubricating Oil Sales.

ConocoPhillips Hopes to Lure Fast Lubes

It may look crowded, but ConocoPhillips says theres room for another national player in the quick-lube market. Last month it unveiled Lube Shop, a program designed to serve as a uniform sales channel and identity for its four passenger car motor oil brands – Conoco, Phillips 66, Kendall and 76.

Lube Shop aims to sign outlets that are independently owned, rather than franchised or owned by oil companies. The Lube Shop name and signage are meant to establish a uniform image, while allowing operators to choose which of ConocoPhillips brands to feature. Stores that feature Kendall oils, for example, will have signs designating them as a Kendall Lube Shop. Lube Shop also will allow operators to participate in ConocoPhillips credit card program and offer assistance with demographics, site selection and building plans.

ConocoPhillips has an existing program for its Phillips 66 brand, Phillips TropArtic Fast Lube, with 123 participating locations, according to the March issue of National Oil & Lube News. Shell Oils Jiffy Lube is the largest chain, with more than 2,100 locations, and Pennzoil, Valvoline, Texaco and Citgo all have programs with at least 200 sites, the magazine said.

Call for Papers

NLGI International, the global institute for the field of lubricating grease, is seeking technical, manufacturing and marketing papers for its 72nd Annual Meeting, Oct. 30 to Nov. 1 in San Antonio, Texas. Technical papers may cover any phase of grease chemistry, formulation or manufacturing technology. Of specific interest are papers on toxicology, hazardous material handling or storage, new uses, and novel techniques in the area of grease evaluation, characterization and manufacturing. Technical Program Chairman Steven Donnelly points out that papers presented at the meeting and approved by the NLGI Editorial Review Committee are published in the prestigious NLGI Spokesman journal. Presenters also receive a substantial discount in the meeting registration fee.

To offer a paper, contact: Steven G. Donnelly, R.T. Vanderbilt Co., P.O. Box 5150, Norwalk CT 06856-5150 USA. Phone: (203) 853-1400. E-mail: Web:

BP Renames Olefins Business

BPs olefins and derivatives business has become Innovene, a wholly owned subsidiary which BP established and plans to spin off later this year. The move makes Innovene, based in Chicago, one of the worlds five largest chemical suppliers, with assets of more than $9 billion, and annual sales of more than $15 billion. It also is one of the worlds two largest producers of linear alphaolefins – the other being Chevron Phillips Chemical – with plants in Feluy, Belgium; Joffre, Canada; and Pasadena, Texas. It previously announced plans to close the Pasadena plant by the end of this year. It uses some of its LAO to make polyalphaolefins used as premium base stock by the lubricants industry.

BP aims to execute the sale of Innovene during the second half of the year, perhaps through an initial public stock offering or a direct sale.

Chemical Industry to Loosen Pursestrings

Chemical industry profits are up, and suppliers are vowing to plow some of their gains into new manufacturing capacity, shows a recent survey by the American Chemistry Council. Economic Survey: Outlook for 2005 and Beyond shows chemical suppliers projecting their net operating incomes this year will jump a weighted average of 24.8 percent from last years levels. Respondents also projected sales revenues to grow an average 5.6 percent.

The trends are similar for the specialty chemical segment, which supplies the lubricant additives market, among others. Specialty chemical producers project sales revenues will rise a weighted average of 7.6 percent this year and net operating incomes will swell by 21.3 percent, ACC said.

As youd expect, better performance is making suppliers more inclined to make capital investments. Specialty chemical companies are projecting plant and equipment spending to grow 27 percent this year, to reach 5.7 percent of sales revenue. However, the trend also is for American chemical companies to invest in plants overseas, with growing amounts going to China and other newly industrialized countries in Asia.

The ACC report costs $100 ($70 for members). To order, visit thestore or phone (301) 617-7824.

GTL Base Oil in 3 Years?

The race to be the first large-scale producer of gas-to-liquids base oils has a new contestant: Sasol Chevron and Qatar Petroleum have signed a memorandum of understanding to build a base oil plant as part of their Oryx GTL plant, now under construction at Ras Laffan Industrial City, Qatar. The Oryx base oil plant will open during the first half of 2008, the companies said, moving it ahead of Qatar Petroleums other joint venture, called Pearl, with the Royal Dutch/Shell Group. Pearl had been scheduled to become the first big producer of GTL base oils, in 2009.

The Oryx base oil plant is undergoing a feasibility study and design work has yet to be done, but Qatar Minister of Energy and Industry H.E. Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah said it will cost $200 million and have capacity to make 8,000 barrels of base stocks per day.

Conference Eyes Lube Outlook

Lubricants & Oils Outlook, a two-day conference in Dallas, June 27 & 28, is being sponsored by Chemical Week. The meeting aims to provide a unique forum, allowing industry executives responsible for areas such as research and development, sales, strategic planning, marketing and manufacturing, to meet, analyze trends and developments, as well as address problems and identify solutions for their sector. Invited speakers include representatives from Kline & Co., Petroleum Trends International, and Southwest Research Institutes Fuels & Lubricants Research Division. For details and registration information, e-mail or phone Sarah Ashmore at (212) 621-4662.

Paramelt Buys Wax Works

Honeywell International has sold its Asian and European industrial wax operations to Dutch wax producer Paramelt B.V. The deal does not involve Honeywells U.S. wax business, but the conglomerate said it plans to divest those operations too. Price of the sale to Paramelt, which includes a wax plant in Belgium and one in China, was not disclosed, but Honeywell did say the operations had aggregate revenues of $47.5 million in 2004.

Honeywell said it intends to divest the U.S. wax business, which includes a plant in Smethport, Pa., but not its Specialty Additives business, which sells Rheochem customized lubricants for vinyl processing and other products.

Briefly Noted

Lube additive research and technical expertise will be getting a boost in Asia: RohMax Additives GmbH, based in Darmstadt, Germany, has signed an agreement with Singapores Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences to collaborate on R&D projects for lubricant additives. Studies at the institutes state-of-the-art facility on Jurong Island will focus on both preparation and use of polymeric lubricant additives…

For the third consecutive year, ExxonMobil Chemicals Baton Rouge Polyolefins plant has taken home the NPRAs Distinguished Safety Award. The associations highest award, it also was presented to ExxonMobils Mont Belview plastics plant and to Valeros Wilmington, Calif., refinery…

Petroferm Inc. has streamlined operations by merging two subsidiaries: oleochemical derivatives manufacturer Lambent Technologies Corp. and wax and butter maker Hansotech Inc. Lambent makes plant oil based esters, silicones and other products for applications such as lubricants, pharmaceuticals, and food ingredients. It now will also make Hansotech products at its headquarters in Gurnee, Ill.

Faces in the News

Chuck ODonnell is the new president of North American Lubricants Co., joining the company after a career that includes work with Pennzoil-Quaker State, All American Super Lube, Jiffy Lube Association of Franchisees, and others. One of ODonnells priorities will be to expand the San Juan Capistrano, Calif., based NALs national sales force.

NALs past president, Garry Rooney, told Lube Report last month that he resigned from the company in February due to growing disagreements with its owners over how to run the business. Rooney, who was president of 76 Lubricants Co. prior to its absorption by Phillips Petroleum, said he anticipates forming a lube supply company that caters to the quick-lube market.

Kansas City-based MidContinental Chemical Co. announced that Phil Korosec has been named manager of technical services, responsible for supporting Oronite Paratone and MCC branded fuel and lube additives. Korosec joined MCC after he retired from Ethyl Corp./Albemarle Corp. following a 25-year career there.

Rich van Sleet, based at RohMax USA in Horsham, Pa., has been given leadership of the additive companys Driveline Segment, since April 1. The segments former head, John Thich, has joined parent company Degussas High Performance Polymers Business Unit, and will be helping it launch a joint venture in China.

Pittsburgh, Pa., based Lanxess Corp. has restructured its Material Protection Products (MPP) business. Bill Thompson is now responsible for Preventol and other Lanxess products used in industrial preservation applications including metalworking fluids. Thompson joined the company in 1989. Lanxess also named Udo Reigber to head MPP Americas, and Marina Abanto, formerly responsible for MWF, is now handling disinfection and personal care applications. Sandy Cernick continues in her role as head, MPP North America.

Michael Cesa has joined Etna Products as business development manager, stamping and drawing lubricants. Cesa has been in the metalworking lubricants and services industry for a number of years, most recently with Quaker Chemical.

Ashland Inc. last month named Elizabeth Liz Potts as vice president of purchasing, responsible for purchasing across Ashlands chemical and construction businesses. She will also head the segments supply chain source-to-pay process. She joined Ashland in 1996.

Carl Neuser has been named NAFTA sales manager for Solvay Solexis Fomblin PFPE products, including lubricants, oils, greases and emulsions. He will oversee sales for the continental United States, Canada and Mexico, and will also help expand opportunities for the companys premium lubricants products. Neuser assumes the role previously held by Fabrizio Ponte, now country manager for sales activities in China.

Alemite, the maker of lubricant dispensing and handling equipment, has tapped Mike Rowe as chief financial officer. He comes to the company from Rauch Industries. Also, Ray Niemczura Sr. is Alemites new director of engineering, heading up new product development and manufacturing engineering. Niemczura has 27 years experience in the lubrication, pneumatic controls and mining industries.

Third Coast Terminals recently added Grif Carnes to its corporate staff, as marketing and sales manager. He formerly was with Russell-Stanley Corp.

Kevin Flynn is now manager of sales development for specialty chemical distributor Palmer Holland Inc. He will be developing marketing and sales campaigns on behalf of key vendor partners, as well as providing technical field service.

ASTM Internationals Committee D-2 awarded its 2004 Sydney D. Andrews Scroll of Achievement to George E. Totten, for his work in the areas of lubrication, hydraulic fluids, metal quenchants and advanced research. Totten retired from Union Carbide in 2001 and is now a consultant based in Seattle, Wash.

Related Topics

Market Topics