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Lube Sales Sank in 2nd Quarter

Total U.S. lubricant sales volumes in the second quarter of this year fell 7.2 percent compared to the same period of 2006, according to the latest sales data from the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association. The organization recently released its Quarterly Index of Lubricant Sales showing that volumes for the second quarter fell across all major sectors of the market compared to the same period in 2006, with decreases ranging from 5.3 to 7.7 percent. The steepest decline came in the automotive segment that fell 7.7 percent, while both grease and industrial lubes fell 6.9 percent versus 2006s second quarter.

Grease Overdose Hits Honda Civics

Excessive application of silicone grease has led Honda Motor Co. to issue a recall last month for 19,904 model year 2006 Civics, according to Hondas recall filing with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Highway Administration. Honda advised the government agency of its findings in an Aug. 30 letter after receiving complaints that drivers could not shift the lever out of the park position.

At issue is the vehicles telescopic steering column mechanism, which may have been over-lubricated with silicone grease. Over time, some of the excess grease may drip on the brake light switch causing the switch to fail. This may result in a loss of brake lights and greater risk of rear-end collisions. In vehicles with automatic transmissions, the failed brake light switch also can prevent drivers from shifting the transmission from the park position.

The company said it will notify owners of all affected vehicles by mail and ask them to take their vehicle to a Honda dealer where they will repair the problem free of charge.

$2 Million Fire at Amalie

A Sept. 26 fire at the Amalie Oil Co. bulk oil storage facility in Tampa, Fla., caused no serious injuries but nearly $2 million in damages. It was determined that the fire ignited in the boiler room and damaged the facilitys large oil storage tanks and many thousand gallons of product inside. Amalie Senior Vice President Dennis Madden said, No real or permanent damage was sustained. We didnt lose any oil. Thirty employees inside the facility at the time all exited safely. The lubricant manufacturer stores automotive lubricants in tanks ranging from 1,500 to 1.2 million gallons at the site located at the Port of Tampa.

Cuts at Industrial Enterprises

Industrial Enterprises of America, parent of Pitt Penn Oil and Hi-Tach Oil, said recently that it is slashing its workforce, writing down obsolete inventory and discontinuing some product lines as part of consolidation efforts under new management – though its lubricants product lines are not expected to take a hit. We anticipate that such steps will contribute to annualized savings of approximately $4.5 million for fiscal 2008, said President and Chief Operating Officer Dan Redmond. The companys line of products include motor oils, engine additives, brake fluids, appearance chemicals, antifreeze and charcoal fluids, along with gas dusters and refrigerant kits.

More Polyisobutene Coming

BASF has outlined plans to expand its plant for low molecular weight, highly reactive polyisobutene (PIB), marketed under the Glissopal brand, at its Verbund site in Antwerp, Belgium, raising capacity by 25,000 metric tons per year to a total of 100,000 mt/y. Startup of the new capacity, which targets demand for HR PIB use in lubricant additives, is scheduled for March 2008. In addition to the low molecular weight product, the company manufactures medium and high molecular weight PIB, marketed under the Oppanol brand. The ranges of products are used in applications including fuel and lubricant additives, industrial lubricants and oil for two-stroke engines.

Petronas Buys Italys FL Selenia

Malaysias national oil company, Petronas, has signed an agreement to acquire Italian automotive lubricant manufacturer and marketer FL Selenia for 1 billion (U.S. $1.4 billion) from affiliates of U.S. investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Co. L.P., which gives Petronas a major internal customer for the API Group III base oil plant it expects to open in Melaka, Malaysia, next year. FL Selenia markets lubricants for passenger cars, trucks, farm equipment and motorcycles, often through tie-ins with original equipment manufacturers. Based in Italy, the company has operations across Europe, South America and the United States. The transaction is subject to regulatory clearances.

Sensor Venture Adds U.S. Office

Kittiwake Inc., a new joint venture between Condition Monitoring International LLC and Kittiwake Developments Ltd., has been launched to distribute Kittiwake products in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The Kittiwake product line includes real-time oil, moisture, particle and ferrous debris sensors, bench-top lab instrumentation and oil test centers, kits and solutions for on-site testing of fuels and lubes. Keith Macaluso, formerly of Lubrication Systems Inc., has been tapped as the new ventures director of operations, based in Houston. Also, U.K.-based Kittiwake Developments Ltd. appointed Martin Lucas as managing director. Lucas joined Kittiwake in 2000, and has 25 years of experience in the development, manufacture and sale of instrumentation for the aviation, marine, industrial and oil and gas markets.

Bericap Uncorks Expansion Plans

Bericap, an international producer of specialized plastic closures, has announced plans to build a new plant in Cherokee County, S.C., to support its lube oil closures business in the United States. The company plans to invest $20 million in the new facility, with room for future expansion.

Construction of the first-phase building, consisting of 90,000 square feet, will commence this year with production expected to begin in the second quarter of 2008. The South Carolina plant will be the Germany-based companys third North American facility built in 11 years, and its second in the United States.

Average Oil Change Tops $31

According to National Oil & Lube News 2007 fast-lube operator survey, the average price of a standard lube, oil and filter change at a U.S. fast lube has crossed the $30 barrier to more than $31 for the first time. Average net profit was 13 percent, up from 11.5 percent last year, despite declining car counts. NOLN published its 2007 fast-lube operators survey in its September issue, including details on operations, prices, demographics, services, costs, employees, sales, equipment and more, based on responses from more than 4,000 facilities in all 50 U.S. States.

Shell Reopens Argentine Refinery

The Argentine Environmental Authority recently allowed Shell to reopen its Buenos Aires refinery in the Dock Sud district, after Shell presented a pollution cleanup program. Argentine officials had earlier closed the refinery – which includes a paraffinic plant with 1,500 barrels per day of API Group I base oil capacity – citing pollution found in soil samples and alleging that the plant lacked required permits. Shell said it presented plans to identify, test and if necessary mitigate any potential spillage detected in the refinery site, as well as improve the handling within the refinery of oil residues generated in the process units.

Faces in the News

Gerald Gerry Jackson has joined base oil trading company Renkert Oil LLC as vice president of sales and marketing. He moved into the new position on Oct. 1, following his retirement from Motiva Enterprises, where he was general manager of base oils.

Chevron Oronite has appointed Jim Gable as Americas regional manager. Gable will manage the additive companys manufacturing, logistics and supply chain activities in the region. He most recently managed venture capital operations as a vice president with Chevron Technology Ventures.

Robert Pifer was recently hired as the regional sales manager at Pilot Chemical Co., responsible for all account activities in the Northeastern marketplace. He was previously employed with Croda/Uniqema, Tomah Products and Cognis Corp.

Gordon Terminal Service Co. has promoted Bob Mettrick to vice president. Mettrick began with the McKees Rocks, Pa., company in 1973 and is only the third non-family member in its 72-year history to be a vice president. Mettrick retains his position as plant manager at the Bayonne, N.J., facility. Pat Boss, who spent a long career with Citgo and later served as plant manager with Olympic Oil, has been hired as assistant plant manager, also in Bayonne.

Robert Wampler has joined Ciba Specialty Chemicals process and lubricant additives team as key account manager and regional technical sales representative. Wampler has extensive experience in petroleum additives, including with Lubrizol, Crompton and most recently the lubricants business of Hercules Inc.

Campbells Latest

LubesnGreases congratulates retired Calumet sales executive Philip Campbell on the publication of his new book, Spouse in Space. The title only hints at the books topic: the serious legal and financial issues faced by surviving spouses, children and executors. It arose from Campbells own experiences serving as executor and dealing with estate matters. More at www.spouseinspace.com

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