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CNOOC to Build Naphthenic Plant

China National Offshore Oil Corp. – in the news last year for its failed bid to buy Unocal – plans to build a 400,000 metric ton per year naphthenic base oil plant and open it in 2007. Output from the plant will be used both at home and abroad, said CNOOC Director of Lube Technology Yue Fu. There is strong demand for naphthenics in Asia, especially in the Chinese market, she told the recent NPRA Lubricants and Waxes Meeting.

CNOOC is eyeing several locations for the plant, including Bohai Bay in the northeast or at one of its existing refineries. China has three other naphthenic base oil plants, but demand is about 1 million tons a year and rising fast, Fu observed, thanks to a growing appetite for metalworking fluids, process oils, electrical transformer oils and greases. Even so, a significant portion of CNOOCs naphthenic output is earmarked for export, she said.

2004 Lube Sales: Up a Bit

After a three-year slump, the U.S. lubricant industry got a lift in 2004, with sales volumes rising 1.8 percent, says the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. Its 2004 Report on U.S. Lubricating Oil and Wax Sales, released Nov. 9, pegged the market at 2.48 billion gallons. That total sales figure is an estimate of overall size of the market. It differs from the comparative sales data, which serve as indicators of year-to-year trends. The uptick in 2004 was led by a 3.9 percent increase in comparative sales of industrial lubricants (that is, volumes registered by companies that reported data for 2004 and 2003). Comparative sales of greases grew at a 3.6 percent clip, while automotive oils and process oils expanded by 1.2 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.

Copies of the 77-page report, which includes detailed volumes, channels of distribution and quality levels, are now on sale for $25 to NPRA members and $300 to nonmembers. Contact: Dan Strachan at (202) 457-0480. E-mail:

SQM Adds Lithium Supply

Chemical producer SQM has shipped its first load of lithium hydroxide from a new plant at Salar de Carmen, Chile, bringing a fresh source of supply to a very tight global market. Lithium hydroxide monohydrate is the key ingredient in making lithium soap greases, which account for 72 percent of lubricating greases worldwide.

This is the largest lithium hydroxide plant in the world, SQM Product Manager Alejandro Escheverria told the online newsletter The $15 million plant has initial capacity to produce 6,000 metric tons a year of lithium hydroxide, Its first deliveries were slated to reach the U.S. East Coast in mid-December (as this issue goes to press), officials at SQMs Atlanta, Ga., offices indicated.

Kluber, Chem-Trend to Tackle China

Germanys Kluber Lubrication Munchen KG and its affiliate Chem-Trend have set their sights on China, and plan to open a joint lubricant manufacturing facility there by 2007. The two, part of Freudenberg Chemical Specialities, will supply current customers there and also hope to reach new industrial clients once the plant is built. The plant will be sited 40 kilometers west of Shanghai, and will be divided into two parts to make both Klubers specialty lubricants and Chem-Trends release agents.

Founded in Munich, Kluber has a history of building plants wherever it sells and now operates 40 production facilities worldwide. Chem-Trend, headquarterd in Howell, Mich., was acquired by Freudenberg in 2004.

Indias VVF Lands in U.S.

Oleochemicals supplier VVF Ltd. Has entered the U.S. market, opening a sales office in Freehold, N.J. The Indian company, headquartered in Mumbai, sells vegetable oil derivatives into the lube, additive and other industries. It also named Neil Burns, formerly of Pilot Chemical, as vice president of U.S. operations.

VVFs fatty acids, alcohols and glycerines are made from palm, mustard and other plant oils, and a significant amount of its products go to companies that use them to make esters and lube additives, Burns said. There is an overall trend that is pushing the use of oleochemicals, he said. Weve seen moves by a number of companies that want to use plant oil derivatives as an alternative the petrochemicals.

With demand strong, VVF is also investigating the possibility of building a plant in North America, Burns added.

Faces in the News

Ed Klavin has been named president of Rhein Chemie Corp., succeeding Siegfried Weber at the Lanxess subsidiary. Klavins 22 years of experience at Lanxess/Bayer have included management positions in Pittsburgh, Pa., Baytown, Texas, and Leverkusen Germany; he most recently was its head of strategic planning, mergers and acqusitions.

Cognis appointed Paul Allen group vice president of its Functional Products unit, which supplies synthetic lubricants and plant based specialty chemical. Until this appointment, he headed the companys Nutrition & Health unit and also served as president of Cognis Corp. USA in Cincinnati.

Dr. Gerard Mulqueen has been named global business director, lubricant antioxidants and synthetics at Chemtura Corp. in Middlebury, Conn. Mulqueen, who was with Great Lakes Chemical prior to its merger with Crompton to form Chemtura, is responsible for marketing of aminic and phenolic antioxidants, phosphites and PAOs for automotive and industrial lubricants.

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