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SK, Repsol Set to Build

SK Lubricants and Repsol YPF are partnering to build an API Group III base oil plant in Spain. The new plant, with 13,300 barrels per day of capacity, will be built at Repsols refinery in Cartegena, Spain, and should begin producing in 2013, heard the ICIS Asian Base Oils & Lubricants Conference in Seoul, Korea. (See related story, page 22.)

While details are soon to be finalized, Seoul-based SK expects to own a controlling share of the venture, with Repsol holding the balance. Repsol will contribute the land, feed-stock and utilities, and SK will supply the technology and marketing, as it does in its joint venture with Indonesias Pertamina. This will be SK Lubricants fourth base oil project, joining its two base oil plants in Ulsan, Korea, plus the Indonesian joint venture. Madrid-based Repsol has two base oil plants in Spain which make mostly Group I products.

Sign of Recovery?

Having won some $57 million in economic incentives from the state of Michigan, Daimler Trucks North America this month will begin investing a total $200 million in its Detroit Diesel engine production facility in Redford, Mich. It plans to expand heavy-duty engine production capacity, including of EPA 2010 emissions-compliant diesels with BlueTec technology for Class 8 trucks. A big part of the funds will be spent on cylinder head production, to redesign and improve manufacturing facilities, and to purchase machines and equipment, the company said.

BASF Buys Cognis

As this issue goes to press, German giant BASF said it agreed to buy specialty chemicals company Cognis from its private-equity owners, Permira Funds, GS Capital Partners and SV Life Sciences. The deal, worth Euro 3.1 billion (U.S. $3.8 billion), is to close by November 2010, subject to regulatory approvals. Cognis had 2009 sales of Euro 2.6 billion, and is a notable supplier of specialty chemicals including synthetic lubricants. It employs 5,500 and has plants and service centers in 30 countries. It makes synthetic lubes in Cincinnati, Brazil, Germany, France, Spain, the U.K. and China.

This will be BASFs second major acquisition in lubricants in as many years. In April 2009, the company bought Ciba, which makes lube additives.

Metalworking Fluids Face Union Challenge …

The UAW has resurrected a 1993 petition to the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, calling for a comprehensive standard for occupational exposure to metalworking fluids that includes a permissi-ble exposure limit of 0.5 mg/m3 or less, medical surveillance, exposure monitoring and other protections. The first time it denied the petition, in 2003, OSHA said the health effects evidence was not compelling and the exposure risks were unclear.

In the April 28 petition, the labor union president Ron Gettelfinger wrote that new evidence since has emerged, and urged the government agency to act quickly. The petition pointed to 227 reports in peer-reviewed literature on metalworking fluid exposures. Three of these identified excess cancer associated with metalworking fluid exposure, he pointed out, and others strengthened the associations between fluids and respiratory effects and systemic toxicity from absorbed chemicals.

The Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Association has been a leader on the issue ever since the first UAW petition was filed, and it anticipated that UAW would revive the petition, said ILMA legal counsel Jeffrey Leiter of Leiter & Cramer LLC. He pointed out that ILMA members have been actively supporting an ongoing ASTM effort to develop voluntary standards for metalworking fluid exposures. We will put our collective heads together to recommend and then execute ILMAs response to the unions petition, Leiter told Lube Report.

… But Toxicologists Punt

The U.S. National Toxicology Program has deferred for future consideration a decision on whether to include metalworking fluids in its Report on Carcinogens, now in its 12th edition. The agency, which evaluates substances of public health concern, in 2004 said it was weighing such a listing.

The Independent Lubricant Manufacturers has steadily opposed the nomination since then. It said the NTP may have been unable to come to a speedy scientific consensus on the complex and diverse mixtures that are metalworking fluids, or it may be awaiting results of studies that are under way.

We feel good that they have no rush to judgment, said Lon Fanning of Perkins Products, who chairs ILMAs Metalworking Lubricants Committee. Its a complex issue, but the studies dont show adverse health effects.

OSHA Cites Infineum

OSHA has cited Infineum USA for 22 alleged workplace safety violations, including exposing employees to chemical hazards, at its Bayway Chemical Plant in Linden, N.J. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration is proposing penalties amounting to $88,500, after inspectors at the plant found the petroleum additives maker failed to establish and implement written procedures required to manage any changes to technology, facilities, equipment and procedures.

In a written statement, Infineum said that the inspection was triggered by an incident involving a chlorine release in July 2009. That incident did not result in any personnel injuries or damages, or have any impact on the community, the company stated. As is our policy, we independently conducted a comprehensive incident investigation to determine the root cause and prevent reoccurrence of such an incident. Since 1994, OSHA has repeatedly recognized Bayway as a high-achieving STAR facility, praising its safety performance.

Briefly Noted

Shell Canada last month began the process of closing down its Montreal East refinery, including its 2,700 b/d API Group I base oil plant, after rejecting last-minute offers to buy the refinery for what it deemed an inadequate amount…

U.S. Oil Co. of Combined Locks, Wis., has changed its name to U.S. Venture, and moved last month to a new headquarters in Kimberly, Wis…

BASF has started up a new 25,000 metric tons per year plant to make its Glissopal highly reactive polyisobutene in Ludwigshafen, Germany, boosting annual capacity there to 40,000 tons. Highly reactive PIB is largely used to make lubricant and fuel additives, especially for dispersancy and deposit control.

FM Nod for Quaker Chemical

Quaker Chemicals newly expanded, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Middletown, Ohio, has passed a stringent audit by FM Global, and is the second of its two North American facilities to accomplish this. (Detroit is the other). The audit results mean the Middletown plant is Factory Mutual-approved for production of the companys Quintolubric brand fire-resistant hydraulic fluids. The plant has been operating since November 2009.

Polaris Lands Distributors Account

Polaris Laboratories has signed on to administer a fluid analysis program for the Association of Independent Oil Distributors and their fleet-manager and owner-operator clients. Called the Purus Assurance System, the program will offer oil, fuel and coolant test kits, rapid analysis and easy-to-access reports on oil and equipment condition.

AIOD sells Purus brand commercial and industrial lubricants, including premium diesel engine oils, gear oils, transmission and hydraulic fluids; it also sells automotive lubes, antifreeze, filters and other products under the Service Pro brand. It boasts of being the industrys largest international marketing group, with 41 independently owned distributors and 79 distribution facilities in North America. AIOD companies also serve industrial, natural gas, mining and quarry applications.

Plaudits and Awards

Motor oil marketer Ashland Consumer Markets (Valvoline) and additive supplier Lubrizol were named the 2010 winners of the SAE Environmental Excellence in Transportation Award, for work demonstrating that motor oils made with Lubrizols HyperZDP system can have a reduced environmental impact. The award cited three years of technical collaboration between the two companies, including lab and field tests, which demonstrated that Valvoline motor oils formulated with the additive both extend catalyst life and reduce tailpipe emissions over the life of the vehicle.

American Oil Chemists Society presented the 2010 Industrial Uses of Soybean Award to Battelle scientist Herman Benecke. He was lauded for his work using vegetable oils to formulate products including foams, plastics, polyols and more. Benecke now directs Battelles research efforts to develop soybean oil based lubricants and hydraulic fluids.

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the Rocky Mountain Institute have singled out Evonik RohMaxs concept of a Maximum Efficiency Hydraulic Fluid in a national challenge on energy efficiency. The honorable mention in the Energy Initiative 10xE contest came during AIChEs annual meeting in May. RohMax was praised for its use of viscosity modifiers and application of chemistry, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics and mechanical engineering in solving the puzzle of how to boost hydraulic fluid energy efficiency by a demonstrated 18 percent.

Faces in the News

Patricia Sinkin Leigh is the new general manager of Chevron Global Base Oils. In her new role she oversees all day-to-day activities of Chevrons base oil business units, as well as directs the strategic growth for the companys base oil refineries and their future production. Leigh, who joined Chevron as a petroleum engineer in 1990, succeeds Marty Gilles who has moved into the position of general manager, Americas, for Chevron Transportation & Operations.

Effective July 19, Keith Mullin will take over as CEO of Hong Kongs Gulf Marine Ltd. He has 25 years experience in shipping and marine lubricants and joins Golf Marine from BP International in Australia. Caroline Huot, the former CEO, stepped down in mid-June.

The Automotive Oil Change Association has tapped Leanne Stump to be its new executive director. Stump has a decade of working experience with AOCA, overseeing day-to-day operations including human resources, communications, facilities management and finance, as well as organizing the associations conventions.

Midland, Mich.-based Savant has named William Lutz laboratory manager, responsible for overall technical and business operations. He is experienced in plant and product engineering, safety, and technical service development. Lutz, a Six Sigma Green Belt, holds fives patents and spent 27 years with Dow Chemical. Also, Michael Habitz has become project manager for the SavantTech division. Habitz has been with Savant since 2002, and was laboratory manager for the past four years. In his new role he is responsible for managing and expanding SavanTechs portfolio of products, which include custom-blended calibration, reference and catalyst fluids for manufacturers of lubricant testing equipment.

Dan Herndon has joined Houston-based Soltex as operational manager, responsible for its terminaling and manufacturing activities. A chemical engineer, he has more then 30 years of industry experience, including with Texas Molecular, Third Coast Terminals and polyisobutene producer TPC Group.

Michael Atkinson is the new sales representative in the Denver region for the St. Louis-based chemical distributor Walsh & Associates. He has 30 years of industry experience.

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