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Tulsa Refinery Sold

Sunoco is selling its Tulsa,Okla., refinery to Holly Corp. for $65 million, in a deal expected to close by June 1. The refinery, which dates to 1913, includes a 9,500 b/d API Group I base oil plant. Sunoco had said in November that it would try to sell the refinery, or con-vert it into a terminal by the end of 2009 if no buyer were found. The sale to Holly keeps the refinery and its base oil unit open, and protects approximately 400 jobs.

The deal also will give Holly rights to the Sunoco specialty lubricant product trademarks in North America and a license to use the same in Central and South America. Holly CEO and Chairman Matt Clifton said, We are extremely excited about acquiring this complex refinery and its specialty lubricant products business. Tulsa produces specialty lube oils, bright stock, process oil and wax, as well as transportation fuels. Holly plans to upgrade and expand the facility to produce ultra-low-sulfur diesel.

Nynas Builds a Hub

Refiner and marketer Nynas is constructing a new blending and storage hub in Houston to handle greater volumes of naph-thenic base oils. Sited at Westway Terminal along the Houston Ship Channel, the hub will have 25 tanks and 55,000 cubic meters of storage for Nynas base oils, tire oils and transformer oils. It will receive deliveries from the United States, Sweden, Curacao and Belgium, and ship to depots outside the country. Houston is an important link in Nynas global supply chain and will increasingly supply depots all over the world, commented Mikael Arnestrand, head of supply chain for the Americas.

We will move our trans-former oils in June to the new hub, and then gradu-ally move our other prod-ucts there, added Jeremy Kriska, national sales man-ager at Nynas USA in Houston. We expect all the products to be sup-plied from there by year end. Well be the biggest client at the new location, which is tailor-made for us. The hub will have high blending capability, dedi-cated pipelines and special loading facilities for sensi-tive products.

Nynas makes naphthenics at its refinery in Nynashamn, Sweden, and markets the output from Lyondells Houston refin-ery, Valeros Three Rivers plant in Texas, and PDVSAs Rafineria Isla in Netherlands Antilles.

Rhein Chemie Starts Up China Plant

Lanxess subsidiary Rhein Chemie has started up its new lubricant oil additives manufacturing plant in Qingdao, China, the company announced in late March. The new plant cost U.S. $6.8 million and initially employs 20 people.

The new facility received all governmental approvals and was ready for produc-tion by the end of 2008. At the new facility, the focus will be on making cus-tomized Additin brand addi-tive formulations for indus-trial lubricants. Rhein Chemies additives are used in metalworking flu-ids, hydraulic oils, industrial gear oils, turbine and com-pressor oils, rust preven-tives and greases.

Lube Capacities Reported

NPRA has published its annual Lube Oil and Wax Capacities in the Western Hemisphere Report, showing locations, capacities, refinery configu-rations and ownership for 19 U.S. base oil and wax plants, another five from Canada, and two in Latin America. Four rerefiners are also listed in the 14-page statistical report.

The new report shows U.S. refiners have 202,400 barrels per day of finished lubricants capacity, down from almost 219,000 b/d at the beginning of 2008. The largest reason for this downturn is the absence of two base oil plants, Citgos and Marathons, both of which closed last year.

The current U.S. total, says NPRA, includes 62,700 b/d of Group I capacity, 102,300 b/d of Group II, and 37,400 b/d of naphthenics. The countrys finished and unfinished wax capacity now stands at 18,500 b/d.

Among the insights shown in the report are capacity changes that took place in the past year, including the above clo-sures, plus planned increases that are under way this year. However, some companies appear to have under-reported their current capabilities, based on news reports and com-pany announcements. Copies of the report are available now at no cost to NPRA members ($25 for nonmembers). To order: www.npra.org

Lights Out for CG-4 Oils

The American Petroleum Institutes Lubricants Committee has voted to discontinue licensing prod-ucts against the CG-4 diesel engine oil category. Effective Aug. 31, no prod-ucts can claim they are licensed to the 14-year-old specification. After that date, products cannot show the CG-4 designation inside the trademarked API donut service symbol.

API encourages marketers instead to upgrade their oils to one of the newer service categories, such as CH-4, CI-4, CI-4 Plus and CJ-4, said its engine oil licensing man-ager, Kevin Ferrick. He said the Lubricants Committee acted on a request from the Engine Manufacturers Association that the catego-ry be withdrawn due to lack of engine builders support.

The impetus for this request, explained EMAs Lubricants Committee Chairman Greg Shank, of Volvo/Mack Powertrain, is that CG-4 does not include an engine wear test, while all subsequent categories do. Also, EMA members do not recommend any-thing lower than CH-4 worldwide.

Very few pure CG-4 oils are licensed by API, out of more than 5,000 total prod-ucts. But many licensees use CG-4 in a string of other categories, such as CG-4/CH-4 or CG-4/SJ. These licensees must take CG-4 out of the string, which means labels will have to be updated for more than 1,000 products in the mar-ketplace. Licensees have until Aug. 31 stop packag-ing and labeling any prod-uct with the CG-4 designa-tion, whether alone or in a string. For details, see www.api.org/certifications/ engineoil/

Oil Hazard Prompts GM Recall

General Motors last month recalled nearly 1.5 million Buicks, Chevrolets, Oldsmobiles and Pontiacs, from model years 1997 to 2003. Drops of engine oil may be deposited on the exhaust manifold through hard braking, GM advised feder-al safety regulators on April 8. If the manifold is hot enough and the oil runs below the heat shield, it could ignite into a small flame and spread to the plastic spark plug wire channel and beyond, increasing the risk of an engine compartment fire.

The recall, expected to begin this month, affected midsize cars with a 3.8 liter V6 engine. Dealers will remove the spark plug wire retention channel at the front of the engine and install two new spark plug wire retainers free of charge, GM said.

Suncor to Buy Petro-Canada

Canadian energy giants Petro-Canada and Suncor Energy plan to merge, in a common share exchange estimated at Canadian $19.3 billion (U.S. $15.8 billion) in value. Suncors existing shareholders will own about 60 percent, and Petro-Canada sharehold-ers will own the rest of the merged company.

Suncor retails under the Sunoco name in Canada, but does not have a lubri-cants segment. By con-trast, Petro-Canada is a leader in white oils and fac-tory-fill automatic transmis-sion fluids, and it blends and packages more than 350 lubricants, specialty fluids and greases, market-ing them in more than 60 countries. Petro-Canada also operates a base oil plant in Mississauga, Ontario, with 13,600 bar-rels per day of API Group II capacity and 2,000 b/d of Group III capacity. Post-merger, the company expects to use the Petro-Canada name for all its refined products.

Pending regulatory approvals, the merger should be completed in this years third quarter.

Chemtura Bankruptcy Proceeds

A New York bankruptcy court approved Chemturas first day motions in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, allowing for continuation of normal business operations during the specialty chemical manufacturers restructur-ing. Chemtura also received a commitment for up to $400 million in debtor-in-possession financing from Citibank.

Chemtura and 26 of its U.S. affiliates filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on March 18, citing significant decreases in liq-uidity and cash flow due to a market decline in order volumes in recent months because of the global eco-nomic recession. With the bankruptcy protection and the Citibank financing in place, the company said it anticipates meeting its financial obligations to employees, customers and suppliers going forward.

More Weak Economic Signals

After years of strong revenue and profit growth, Germanys Fuchs Petrolub AG recently pre-dicted that sales and earn-ings will decline this year. Business in January and February was generally unsatisfactory, the compa-ny said, as customers reduce inventories and order less…

A Houghton International Inc. lubricant blending plant in Wolverhampton, U.K., was to close at the end of April, a casualty of the global recession. Operations at the facility, which employs approxi-mately 50 people, will be transferred to another Houghton plant in Manchester, U.K…

Norwalk, Conn.-based King Industries confirmed that it has gone through two rounds of reductions in force, at the beginning of the year and again in mid-March. The privately held additive manufacturer declined to say how many workers were let go.

Castrol Industrial North America will close a plant in Vernon, Calif., and con-solidate manufacturing at its Warminster, Pa., site, in a bid for scale and procure-ment efficiencies. it will also consolidate its East and Midwest warehousing and logistics operations, and close a number of smaller depots. In this sharp economic downturn, said company President Dave Fuerst, It is crucial for us to continue driving our own efficiency efforts to be competitive in the marketplace.

Faces in the News

Metalworking fluid supplier Master Chemical has tapped Cary R. Glay as chief financial officer, with global responsibility for all finan-cial and information sys-tems. A Six Sigma green belt, Glay most recently was controller of acquisi-tions and integrations for Eaton Corp.s industrial sector.

Bill Wahl has joined specialty chemical compa-ny Soltex as dis-tributor sales manager, respon-sible for all sales through distribution. Wahl has over 30 years of experience in both formulating and sales, and most recently was vice presi-dent, business development at Functional Products Inc.

Simon Higgs has been named president and chief oper-ating officer of Green Earth Technologies, mar-keter of G-Oil biobased lubri-cants. He replaces Mathew Zuckerman, founder and pres-ident, who stepped down for health reasons. Higgs, already a member of the companys board of directors, will continue in both positions.

In a revamp of its executive suite, Helsinki-based Neste Oil promoted Matti Lehmus, vice president, base oils, to become executive vice president, specialty products. The companys Ari Dufvelin became executive vice president, shipping, and Ilkka Poranen was named executive vice president, refining. Executive vice presidents Kimmo Rahkamo and Risto Nasi, who headed Specialty Products and Shipping respectively, have left the company.

Jim Thompson joined Third Coast Chemicals in Pearland, Texas, as com-mercial vice president. He will have direct responsibility for several product families and the corporations develop-ment. Thompson has nearly 20 years of expe-rience, including with Lyondell Chemical and BP.

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