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GS Caltex Starts Up

GS Caltex launched commercial production of lubricating base oils at its Yeosu complex in South Korea Oct. 29, as the joint venture completed a 1.5 trillion won (U.S. $1.6 billion) project to build a heavy oil upgrading facility and base oil plant. Ultimately, the base oil plant will have 12,000 barrels per day of API Group II and 4,000 b/d of Group III capacity under the companys new Kixx Lubo brand. The company is owned 50/50 by GS Holdings (which was spun off from LG Corp. in 2004) and Chevron Corp.

GS Caltex will focus on producing Group II 150N and 600N until December 2007 and start producing Group III from January 2008, said J.Y. Park, GS Caltexs Base Oil Team. She said the plant will eventually produce 150, 325 and 600N viscosity Group II base oils and 2, 4, 6 and 8 centiStoke Group III base oils.

Seventy percent of the plants output is slated for export, Park added, initially to the Asia Pacific region.

Coming Soon: MWF Symposium

The 2008 Metal Removal Fluids Symposium will be held Oct. 5 to 8 in Dearborn, Mich. With the support of fluid suppliers, major end users, and health and safety experts, this will be the first comprehensive symposium devoted to the topic in over a decade, observes program chairman John Burke, of Houghton International.

The symposium offers an opportunity for anyone who is associated with metal removal fluids – including laboratory chemists, field service engineers, sales people, technicians and end users – to discuss the latest trends and advances. Technical papers and poster submissions are also sought, on topics such as managing metal removal fluids, best practices, exposure measurement and guidelines, global regulatory issues, health and safety effects, occupational medicine, sustainability and future trends.

To submit a paper for consideration, authors must provide abstracts by April 30. For information, visit

Shakeup at Industrial Enterprises

Amusement parks are closed during the winter but automotive aftermarket packager and lube supplier Industrial Enterprises of America Inc. was taken for a roller coaster ride in November. On Nov. 6, Chief Financial Officer Jorge Yepes was suspended by the companys board of directors, pending a review to investigate possible violations of the companys policies and procedures. Then, on Nov. 20, came the good news that the companys Pitt Penn subsidiary had improved its on-time shipping performance to nearly 100 percent, up from the below-70 percent averages it had been posting three months earlier. The next day, the company announced that CEO and interim CFO John Mazzuto would be retiring at the end of 2007 due to health reasons. A search for his replacement began immediately, the company said.

Green Light for PIB

Texas Petrochemicals Inc. has confirmed plans to more than double its current production of polyisobutylene by mid-2008 at its Houston plant, to meet growing demands fueled largely by the products use in lubricant and fuel additives. Current capacity at the facility is more than 65,000 metric tons per year. The company said it has awarded contracts for engineering and construction of the scheduled expansion, which has received final approval from its board of directors.

According to Texas Petrochemicals construction is under way in the field and major equipment purchases are on order. The plant produces both high reactive PIB (HR PIB) and conventional PIB. Doubling the Houston facilitys capacity to 130,000 metric tons per year would make it the biggest PIB plant in the world.

Hercules Ups Fridge Lube Output

In early November, Hercules Inc. completed expansion of its Louisiana, Mo., synthetic lubricants manufacturing facility, which produces synthetic polyol esters used as lubricants for refrigeration and air conditioning applications.

Since the mid-1990s, Hercules and Uniqema had maintained a synthetic lubricants manufacturing agreement. However, in September 2006, Croda acquired Uniqema and then promptly sold its refrigeration lubricants business to Lubrizol Corp. The sale included polyol ester and alkyl benzene refrigeration technology, the Emkarate and Icematic brand names, customer lists, manufacturing knowhow and intellectual property. No manufacturing facilities were included in the transaction.

According to Lubrizol spokesman James Baldwin, Hercules is going to be a toll manufacturer for us for the Emkarate brand, of refrigeration lubricants.

SPI Bags Two More

Maxum Petroleum Inc., wholly-owned subsidiary of SPI Petroleum LLC, has acquired a lubricant and fuel distributor in New Mexico and a lubricant blending plant in Panama. Through its operating subsidiary Simons Petroleum, Maxum took over assets and operations of Farmington Oil Co., a lubricant and fuel distributor in Farmington, N.M., that serves industrial and commercials markets in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

Formerly owned by Esso Standard Oil of Panama (part of ExxonMobil), the blending plant acquired in Balboa, Panama, will expand the companys existing customer base of deep-draft marine vessels in the Panama Canal. It also serves as a launching point to serve the greater Central America lubricant market, the company said.

ExMo Sells Saudi Stake

ExxonMobil has sold its 30 percent stake in Saudi Aramco Lubricating Oil Refining Company (Luberef), according to majority shareholder Saudi Aramco. The sale came after ExxonMobil reviewed its global lube manufacturing business. ExxonMobils spread of global lubricants businesses has not required the lifting of any physical product from this refinery venture for many years, said spokeswoman Prem Nair.

Jadwa Industrial Development Co., a private business connected to the Saudi Royal family, purchased ExMos stake in the joint venture, which also operates two base oil plants in Saudi Arabia. Aramco, the worlds largest oil company, owns the other 70 percent of Luberef, which was founded in 1976 as a venture with the former Mobil Oil Co.

Gulf Oil Buys Petromin

Indias Gulf Oil International Group recently announced that its joint venture in Saudi Arabia has acquired Petromin, that nations largest lubricant supplier. Gulf officials said the transaction is part of its broader strategy to expand in the region.

Gulf has been very keen to consolidate its position in the Middle East, spokesman Richard Hoare said. It is a market that Gulf views as having significant potential for its products.

Gulf noted that it recently consolidated its presence in the United Arab Emirates by acquiring 100 percent ownership of a blending plant in Jebel Ali.

Since its formation in 1968, Petromin had been a joint venture between state-owned Saudi Aramco and Mobil Investments S.A., now part of U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil.

Faces in the News

Exxon Mobil Corp. has appointed Alan Kelly president of ExxonMobil Lubricants & Petroleum Specialties and elected him a vice president of the corporation, effective Dec. 1. Kelly will succeed Jerry Kohlenberger, who will retire Jan. 31. Kelly became regional director, North America, for the lubricants and petroleum specialties subsidiary in 2001, and has served as general manager, corporate planning, for Exxon Mobil Corp. since 2003.

Michael Lewis has been named base oil general manager at Motiva Enterprises in Houston. Most recently, Lewis was executive director in Motivas corporate center; his background includes 17 years of experience running Shells base oil plant in Deer Park, Texas.

Dallas-based Platinum Research Organization Inc. has appointed Matt Hawkins as chief marketing officer and David Owen as vice president and chief technology and supply officer. Hawkins has been with the company since 2002 and was most recently vice president of sales and marketing. Owen had been a technical consultant at Platinum and is co-inventor of the one of the companys process patents.

Dorf Ketal Chemicals LLC, a global additives and process chemicals company, has named William Loven as president, lubes and additives, U.S. Division. Loven will head the Mumbai, India-based companys integration of recent acquisitions and oversee expansion strategies. Microbe Inotech Laboratories, an analytical testing service based in St. Louis, Mo., has welcomed Tim Timmerman as its new microbiologist. A graduate of Webster University, he first came to the company as an intern.

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