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Lube Sales: Down Again

Total U.S. lubricant sales volumes in 2008s second quarter fell 3.2 percent compared to the same period in 2007, according to data from the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association. That decline is due largely to the automotive lubricants segment, which dropped 5.4 percent to an index value of 93.7 in the second quarter, compared to 99.1 in 2007s second quarter. Sales are indexed against volumes in 2006, so an index number of 100 represents average sales in that year.

Grease sales volumes also dropped in the second quarter, falling 8.8 percent to an index value of 90.4 versus 99.1 a year earlier. On the other hand, industrial lubes rose slightly, by 0.3 percent, to reach 100.1 in the second quarter, compared to 99.8 in the second quarter of 2007. Process oil sales were up as well, by 0.5 percent, hitting an index value of 107.4 in the second quarter.

Chemtura Adding Grease Capacity

Chemtura Corp. will increase calcium sulfonate grease capacity by 60 percent at its West Hill, Ontario, Canada, plant by fall 2009, to meet growing demand worldwide. Were doing this in an effort to service the growing needs of all of our customers, not just one particular market, said Chemturas Naureen Stone. Calcium sulfonate grease is primarily a private-label business for Chemtura today, with high product demand in North America, Europe and Asia, she said.

Although the company declined to disclose current or future capacity, it said it is planning to add three new kettles to the West Hill facility.

Flint Sparks Move for Additives International

Additives International has leased Lockhart Chemical Co.s 13-acre Flint, Mich., production facility, gaining new capabilities in calcium and barium sulfonate-based products, along with more capacity for soluble bases and emulsifiers. The company will also make rust preventives based on oxidized waxes and petrolatums.

Its capable of a lot of production up there – millions and millions of pounds of production, said Additives International President and Chairman Greg Jorjorian. The company said it will move production of sulfonate emulsifiers, soluble and semi-synthetic bases and rust preventives, corrosion inhibitors and biocides from Cincinnati to the Flint location. It was expecting to make all shipments from Flint by the end of October.

Spectrum Buys Tennessee Rival

Spectrum Corp. in July acquired Memphis-based American Lubricating Co., combining two Tennessee lubricant blenders who share a focus on the outdoor power equipment and lawn and garden market. Our primary focus was in buying some very nice packaging equipment as well as the opportunity to expand the export business, said Spectrum President and CEO Kent Farmer, in Selmer, Tenn.

Chip Armstrong, American Lubricatings president and general manager, said hes known Farmer for many years. While weve competed over the years were also very comfortable with each other. While [Spectrum] had better pricing on packaging, we had better pricing on formulas, so in the long term we think this is going to be good for us and for our customers.

While American Lubricating Co.s lube plant and packaging equipment have been moved to Selmer, Armstrong and his brother Michael will remain in Memphis to operate a sales office for Spectrum. Another brother, Andrew, is contemplating retirement, Chip Armstrong said.

BASF Bags Ciba

BASF will acquire Ciba Holding AG via a public takeover offer to shareholders, bringing together two specialty chemical giants whose products include synthetic lubricants and base stocks, lube additives and components used in lubricants and metalworking fluids. The offer is 50 Swiss francs (U.S. $44.96) in cash for each nominal Ciba share, for a total value of about CHF 6.1 billion (U.S. $5.5 billion). The total value is based on all outstanding Ciba shares and includes net financial liabilities and pension obligations. Germany-based BASF and Basel, Switzerland-based Ciba have reached a transaction agreement in which Cibas board of directors support BASFs offer and recommend its acceptance to Cibas shareholders.

Update on Heartland

Rerefiner Heartland Petroleum in Columbus, Ohio, was nearing its much awaited opening, as this issue went to press. According to company President Bill Snedegar, the plants third and final hydrogen unit was close to completion and was due to be installed at the end of October – about five months later than expected. He blamed the wait on difficulty obtaining steel for the pressure units and strained capacity at the fabricators shop. After the final unit is delivered, he added, installation and start up should proceed very quickly. I counted and we had 42 vehicles on our site today, driven here by construction crew members and builders who are ready to get under way as soon as this final piece is delivered, he told LubesnGreases on Oct. 10.

CNOOC Builds Group II/III Plant

China National Offshore Oil Corp. is entering the paraffinic base oil market. The state-owned oil giant has broken ground on a 400,000 metric ton per year (7,700 barrel per day) API Group II/III plant in Huizhou, in southern Chinas Guangdong province.

CNOOC said the plant will produce three grades of base oils: 200,000 t/y of 220 neutral, 140,000 t/y of 100N, and 60,000 t/y of 60N, using Chevron Lummus Globals lube technology. The output of the base oil plant, which CNOOC claimed will be completed in 2010, is likely to go into Chinas domestic merchant market. The groundbreaking was first made public at the ICIS/C1 Energy China Base Oils & Lubricants Summit in September.

Brighter Days Ahead?

After years of slippage, U.S. demand for lubricants will reverse direction and increase nearly 1 percent a year to 2012, says a new study. Overall market value will approach $17 billion by 2012 as well – an uptick of more than 4 percent a year.

The study Lubricants, from the Cleveland-based research firm Freedonia, highlights growth in the transportation segment and forecasts that engine oil demand will grow 1.2 percent a year, spurred by greater numbers of motor vehicles. These volume gains will be tempered however by the trend towards smaller engines and less-frequent oil changes. Other increases are expected in the aviation, agricultural, mining and construction industries, as well as in oilfield area.

For industrial lubes, growth is foreseen for products such as hydraulic oils, process oils and greases, but trends here are also favoring longer-lasting lubricants which extend oil drain intervals and reduce overall volume requirements.

Other hot spots identified in the 369-page study are synthetic lubricants and bio-based lubricants. Lubricants is available for $4,700. For details, visit www.freedoniagroup.com.

Fuchs Enfolds MS Fluids

The U.S. subsidiary of Fuchs Petrolub has acquired MS Fluid Technologies of Indianapolis. In business for 40 years, MS provides synthetic lubricant and cleaning solutions to customers in the automotive, appliance and other industries. Price of the acquisition was not disclosed.

The deal strengthens Fuchs position in the metal-forming marketplace, said the Mannheim, Germany-based parent. This acquisition will bring together two organizations whose synergies will complement one another in the best way. It will continue Fuchs effort to remain the largest provider of metal-forming lubricants to the domestic and international markets, added Frank Kleinman, CEO and chairman of Fuchs Lubricants in Harvey, Ill.

Norway Rerefinery for Puralube

Ineos Bamble AS and Puralube Nordic AS have reached agreement for a lubricant oil production plant on the Ineos site at Ronningen in Bamble, Norway. Puralube plans to invest 400 million Norwegian kroner (U.S. $70.6 million) in the new rerefining facility, which it will build, own and operate starting in 2010. The plant will convert 85,000 metric tons per year of waste lube oil (including industrial, marine and automotive oils) into lubricants for use in cars, other transportation and a broad range of industrial applications. The waste oil, which will come from Norway, other Scandinavian countries, Germany and Great Britain, will then be rerefined to produce about 75,000 metric tons per year of low-sulfur base oil.

Court to Hexion: Huntsmans Yours

Delawares Chancery Court has judged in favor of Woodlands, Texas-based Huntsman, and ordered cold-footed suitor Hexion to use its reasonable best efforts to consummate the merger of the two companies. After pursuing Huntsman – and busting up Huntsmans planned merger with Basell in the process – Hexion had tried to terminate the merger agreement, saying the joined companies could not survive. Huntsman, which makes ethylene, ethanolamines, glycols and other products used in lubricants and metalworking fluids, then sued to force the merger to go forward. Following the courts decision, the Federal Trade Commission granted an early termination of the usual waiting period, to allow the merger to proceed more quickly.

Weicon Makes North American Entry

German lubricant and specialty chemical supplier Weicon Inc. has opened a North American office in Kitchener, Ont., Canada. Founded in 1949, the company manufactures and distributes lubricants, greases, adhesives, technical sprays and liquids, assembly pastes and sprays, and stripping tools to more than 60 countries worldwide. Lubricants are one part of our range of products, and were going to try to establish our complete range in North America, North American Vice President Kevin Jungel said.

Kitchener is the companys second international office, along with one in Dubai. Jungel said the area was appealing in part because of its proximity to the greater Toronto area, which is one of the main industrial areas in Ontario.

And the Winner is …

Infineum Singapores Jurong Island plant was awarded the Singapore Ministry of Manpowers Workplace Safety & Health Excellence Award last month. This is the 10th consecutive year (spanning 1999-2008) that the additive supplier has won the accolade.

Donaldson Co., a Bloomington, Minn., filtration systems and parts manufacturer, took the 2007 Master of Quality Supplier award from Daimler Trucks North America. The award recognizes the companys stringent quality standards and ongoing commitment to improving the quality of its products.

Calling Grease Mavens

Authors are sought to present papers on the topic of lubricating grease, for the 2009 NLGI Annual Meeting, in Tucson, Ariz., June 13 to 16. Technical, manufacturing and marketing papers on lubricating grease are invited for this prestigious event, as well as papers on additive chemistries, grease testing, environmental and reg-ulatory issues, grease applications and industry trends.

With 300 member companies worldwide, NLGIs annual meeting provides a major forum for researchers, manufacturers and suppliers to address this industry, points out NLGI Technical Session Chairman Rob Kress, of Lubricating Specialties Co. Prospective authors should provide their names, contact details and paper subjects by Dec. 10; abstracts are due by Jan. 30. For details, e-mail Kress at rkress@lubespecialties.com or NLGI at nlgi@nlgi.org.

Faces in the News

David Saddler is now executive director of the Dallas, Texas-based Automotive Oil Change Association. Saddler worked the past four years for the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators in Arlington, Va., including the last two years as a senior executive. At AOCA he succeeds Steve Christie, who is retiring.

Quaker Chemical Corp. named Michael Barry as CEO and president effective Oct. 4, succeeding Ronald Naples, who is retiring as CEO after 13 years but will remain chairman for a limited time. Barry was Quakers senior vice president and managing director for North America. He joined the Conshohocken, Pa.-based company as chief financial officer in 1998.

Lubrizol has promoted a number of key company officers, including Steve Kirk and Dan Sheets. Kirk, who joined Lubrizol in 1972 and in 2004 became president of its Additives business, now is senior vice president and chief operating officer, in charge of both the Additives and Advanced Materials businesses. Additives new president is Dan Sheets, who served as vice president, sales, for the segment. Sheets, who joined the specialty chemical company in 1984, also was named a corporate vice president.

Wickliffe, Ohio-based Lubrizol also tapped Larry Norwood as corporate vice president for operations, with responsibility for operations, personnel and infrastructure for both the Additives and Advanced Materials businesses; he formerly was vice president, operations, for Additives alone. Also, Bob Graf was named corporate vice president for research and development for both Additives and Advanced Materials.

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