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China Opens Naphthenics Plant

Next month is to see the opening of a naphthenic base oil plant at China National Offshore Oil Companys existing refinery in Binzhou, in the coastal province of Shandong. The plants annual capacity will be 300,000 metric tons (5,750 barrels per day), including 80,000 tons of electrical transformer oil, 120,000 tons of process oils, and 100,000 tons of aromatic extracts.

This plant, which CNOOC said cost $12.9 million to build, will be joined late next year by a second new naphthenic plant being built in southeastern China, in Zhanjiang. That plant will have capacity to make 400,000 tons per year of naphthenics.

Polartech Acquires Actrachem

Georgia-Pacific LLC has agreed to sell its manufacturing facility in Bedford Park, Ill., to Polartech Additives Inc. for an undisclosed amount. The facility makes Actrachem additives for the metalworking business, and gives U.K.-based Polartech a manufacturing base in the United States.

We are delighted to have been able to secure the Bedford Park facility and access to the Actrachem brands that were included in the purchase, said Robert Stubbs, president of Polartech Additives. The company said it will be adding new products, processes and personnel in the coming months, and the plant will manufacture Polartechs products as well as Actrachems.

Polartech also recently opened a new plant in India, and has another under construction in Suzhou, China.

Chemtura Restructures, Will Cut Staff

Middlebury, Connecticut-based Chemtura Corp. has restructured itself in order to implement a new industry-based business model that will focus on end-user markets. The specialty chemical company will simplify its reporting structure from the current six units to four, each led by a group president.

One of these, the Performance Specialties unit, contains Chemturas Petroleum Additives and Fluids, and is led now by Robert Wedinger. Petroleum Additives include the companys broad range of lubricant additives, base stocks, sulfonates and functional fluids, and its finished lubricants and greases, as well as the recently acquired Hatco and Anderol businesses. Performance Specialties also is the home of Chemturas urethanes, optical monomers and fluorine specialties.

The three other reporting units now are Polymer Additives, Consumer Products and Crop Protection. Each unit has its own leadership now, with responsibility for its own production facilities, operational and financial performance, sourcing decisions, and research and development.

Wedinger previously had responsibility for Chemturas rubber chemicals and EPDM polymers business, which was sold earlier this year. He joined Chemtura a year ago, after positions with J.M. Huber Corp., Honeywell and FMC Corp.

As part of the Chemtura restructuring, several executives have left the company, including Janet Mann, who was vice president for petroleum additives.

ExMo Ups PAO Capacity

ExxonMobil Chemical has completed several debottlenecking projects at its synthetics plant in Beaumont, Texas, gaining 15 percent more capacity to produce its SpectraSyn 40 centiStoke and 100 cSt polyalphaolefins. These high-viscosity PAOs are often used as blend components to boost viscosity and upgrade quality of a wide range of lubricants, such as gear oils, lubricating greases, compressor and hydraulic oils, and automotive gear oils and transmission fluids.

LubesnGreases estimates the plant now is able to make 69,000 metric tons per year; the company does not disclose capacities. ExxonMobil Chemical also makes PAO at its plant in Gravenchon, France, and with a total 129,000 tons of capacity, is the worlds second-largest PAO manufacturer, after Ineos Oligomers (152,000 t/y).

ELM Facility Burns Down

Environmental Lubricants Manufacturing Inc.s production facility in Plainfield, Iowa, was destroyed on March 20, victim of a fire that began in the grease manufacturing area and quickly spread due to high winds.

ELMs chief operating officer, Jim ORegan, said that no one was hurt in the incident, and temporary offices for the company have been set up in downtown Plainfield. Lou Honary, chairman and cofounder, said that although production has been disrupted, the company quickly began to make alternate arrangements to meet deliveries and service customers. The companys large oil storage tank farm at the site was unharmed, and some finished products were stored off-site as well.

Over the last seven years ELM has become well known in the lubricants industry, and we have already received offers from several companies for help with immediate manufacturing services and support, Honary noted.

ELM makes biodegradable, soybean oil based industrial greases and lubricants, such as hydraulic oils, metal cutting fluids and railway greases.

Univar Lands Chemcentral

The U.S. subsidiary of Rotterdam, Netherlands-based chemical distribution giant Univar NV in March agreed to buy Chemcentral Corp., uniting two companies who distribute products involved in lubricants, additives and metalworking fluids.

Univars initial offer for the Chicago-area Chemcentral had been $600 million, but it sweetened that to $650 mil-lion after competitor Brenntag GmbH began to court Chemcentral as well. The higher bid was accepted and, pending approval by regulators and Chemcentrals shareholders, the deal was to close last month.

Brazils Ipiranga Sold, Carved Up

In a transaction valued at more than $4 billion, Brazils state-owned oil company and business partners Braskem and the Ultra Group together are acquiring Ipiranga Group, a large Brazilian oil refiner and petro-chemical, fuel and lubricants marketer. Ipiranga is Brazils second-largest operator of gasoline stations in Brazil (after Petrobras) and its lubricants operations have a significant share of that countrys automotive and industrial lubricants market.

The deal calls for Ipirangas businesses in northern, northeastern and central Brazil to be handed to Petrobras; Ultra Group will take the assets in the more populous south, including Ipirangas lube blending plants in Rio de Janeiro and Rio Grande; and Braskem gets the petrochemical assets.

Petrobras lubricants consultant Kleber Lins told LubeReport.com that service stations are a key market channel for lubricants, and we can expect that a part of Ipirangas lube sales will be replaced by the Petrobras [Lubrax] brand in the north, northeast and midwest regions.

This acquisition will bolster the Petrobras-Ipiranga market share to a combined 35 percent of Brazils 970-kilo-tonne lubricants market, said Geeta Agashe of market consultants Kline & Co. Second-largest lubricant marketer in the country is Chevron, with 18 percent, she said.

Wright Oil Builds in San Antonio

Wright Oil Co., an affiliate of Royal Manufacturing Co., has built a new 100,000-square-foot facility in the San Antonio area. The new plant includes a quality control lab, blending and packaging facilities, and a bulk storage area with capacity of 1.4 million gallons. The blending area also includes two polymer solubilizing units.

The new plant was necessary to handle increasing sales for the companys branded products as well as custom blending and packaging for existing and potential customers, it said.

In Brief

Lanxess chemicals group has begun construction of a new manufacturing plant for lubricant additives in Qingdao, China. The facility, to be operated by the companys Rhein Chemie subsidiary, will make light-colored sulfurized additives sold under the Additin brand. It is due to stream in fourth-quarter 2008, and will initially employ 50 people.

ExxonMobil Chemicals Baton Rouge, La., polyolefins plant has won NPRAs Distinguished Safety Award for the fifth consecutive year, a feat no other company has accomplished since the safety program began in 1982. The prestigious award involved a comprehensive and objective review of the plants safety programs and record.

The Functional Products unit of Cognis Corp. has recognized Sea-Land Chemical Co., Westlake, Ohio, with its Distributor Operational Measures of Excellence (DOME) award. The award cited Sea-Land for its outstanding ability to grow profitable sales for Cogniss synthetic lubricants group during 2006.

Lubricant and automotive aftermarket product blender Champion Brands has opened a new brake fluid and packaging division, making it the largest exporter of brake fluid in the United States. The facility, in Clinton, Mo., is capable of packaging in metal or plastic, and dedicates approximately 500,000 gallons of capacity to brake fluid blending and storage.

Faces in the News

Val Pakis, recently president and chief executive officer at D.A. Stuart Co., has rejoined Lubrizol as vice president, driveline and industrial additives. Pakis will focus on continued organic growth as well as merger and acquisition activity; he also will be responsible for the additive companys equipment manufacturer liaison group. Prior to joining D.A. Stuart in 2000, Pakis worked at Lubrizol for 20 years. He replaces Eric R. Schnur, who has been named vice president and general manager, performance coatings, of Lubrizols Noveon segment.

Gregory Achatz has been promoted to marketing manager for CTO (crude tall oil) refinery products at Arizona Chemical Co. Achatz, who also now has responsibility for the companys oleochemicals business team, most recently was global marketing manager at the Jacksonville, Fla., pine chemicals company.

Waldemar Bartoschik took over late last year as vice president of customer relations for RohMax Oil Additives, upon retirement of Robert Zebrowski. Bartoschik has been with RohMax and its predecessor company Rohm, since 1979. One of his goals will be to expand the companys business in Asia, Eastern Europe and new markets such as India and Brazil.

Dale Wells is the new president of Warren Unilube, part of North Carolinas Warren Oil Co. His responsibilities include all sales and operations of the West Memphis, Ark., lubricant, chemical blending and packaging facility. Wells has over 25 years experience in the industry, including with Citgo and Pennzoil-Quaker State.

Kline & Co., the Little Falls, N.J., consulting and market research firm, has named Ian Butcher to senior vice president, global client liaison. Based in Brussels, this newly created position aims to provide clients worldwide with a senior-level advocate within the firm.

Elizabeth Wagg has joined Biederman Enterprises Ltd. as operations manager. She brings over 20 years of experience in quality control, marketing, regulatory compliance and health & safety, having worked with companies including W.R. Grace and Rohm and Haas.

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