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Group III Move for HollyFrontier?

The base oil business must agree with HollyFrontier: After buying Sunocos API Group I refinery in Tulsa, Okla., in 2009, the company now is weighing whether to add Group III to its quiver. The potential expansion would involve its Woods Cross, Utah, refinery, which does not currently make base oil, and take three years to complete, HollyFrontier President and CEO Mike Jennings said during a Feb. 28 conference call with financial analysts.

If the venture gets the green light, it would piggy-back on a planned upgrade of Woods Cross crude and fuels units. Pat Gribbin, vice president of HollyFrontier Refining & Marketing, said the Utah base oil project is still undergoing economic and technical review, and the approval and permitting timeline are uncertain.

Our anticipated prospective [base oil] capacity would probably be in the 5,000 to 10,000 barrels a day range, Gribbin said last month. Our intent would be to produce the highest quality lubricants possible, with a minimum expectation of a Group III product.

Infineum Expanding in Singapore …

Infineum is commencing construction of a new salicylate manufacturing facility at its Jurong Island site in Singapore, boasting it will be the single largest investment in its history. Chiyoda Singapore (Pte.) Ltd. will carry out the detailed engineering, procurement and construction phase of the project, and start-up is targeted for fourth-quarter 2013.

Calcium salicylate is a key detergent component used in Infineums top-tier passenger car and heavy-duty engine oil formulations, as well as its marine oil additive products.

… And So is Oronite

Chevron Oronite has made the final investment decision to undertake a significant capacity expansion at its additives plant on Jurong Island in Singapore, with construction to be completed in early 2014. Chevron Oronite has long forecasted the continued increase in additive demand throughout the Asia-Pacific Region, said Ron Kiskis, president. This expansion of our Singapore facility will help keep us at the forefront of that growth for years to come. Work at the 20-hectare site will boost manufacturing, blending and shipping capacity, and improve its infrastructure.

Shell Revamps Blending, Distribution

Shell recently unveiled a new blend center at its Houston plant which lifted finished lube capacity there by 50 percent, and says it also will add blending capacity in Congo, W. Va. But the lubricant giant plans to shutter its plant in Illinois plus two U.S. distribution centers.

Houston boasts new systems such as fully automated blenders and now is the largest blending and liquid handling facility in Shells network. It also has blended products using gas-to-liquids base stocks shipped from Qatar. We have further unlocked our Houston plant capability in order to respond to increasing market demands for premium lubricant products, said Lisa Davis, president of Shell Commercial Fuels and Lubricants in the Americas. The company declined however to disclose exact volumes or investment details for competitive reasons.

Elsewhere, the company said it will begin shutting down its Wood River blending and packaging plant in Illinois later this year, and also close regional distribution centers in OFallon, Mo., and Leetsdale, Pa. None of the facilities fit its long-term plans, the company said.

Craft Oil Buys Again

Craft Oil Corp., a privately held lubricant and equipment distributor based in Avoca, Pa., has acquired Neslo Petroleum Products Inc. of Fords, N.J., its fifth acquisition in the past four years. It plans to relocate its own Craft Oil operation in New Jersey to Neslos facilities in Fords.

Neslo was established in 1975 as a lubricant distributor in the state and an authorized distributor for Shell Oil. Its former owner, Dave Olsen, will work in a consulting role with Craft Oil to assure continuity for customers, and his son Erik Olsen will join Craft Oils operations team.

Quick Lubes Hotting Up?

Valvoline Instant Oil Change says it will expand its quick-lube franchise deeper into Virginia in 2012, its first entry into a new franchise market in several years. It could open 15 to 20 new stores over the next few years in the Richmond and Norfolk areas. VIOC currently has 823 stores (260 company operated and 563 franchise operated) across the United States, including seven in Virginia.

Meanwhile, an affiliate of VIOC franchisee Henley Enterprise has purchased 72 EZ Lube outlets in southern California, which could add to the VIOC store total.

Elsewhere, Jiffy Lube franchisee Heartland Automotive Services acquired 12 locations in New Yorks Long Island area from Suffolk Lube Centers, and 10 Massachusetts locations from Bay State Ventures and Cape Cod Ventures.

Cortec Expands in Middle East

St. Paul, Minn.-based Cortec Corp. has launched a new entity named Cortec Middle East, to extend the reach of its trademarked MCI and VpCI corrosion-control solutions in that region and north Africa. The business is a joint venture formed with Cortecs regional distributor, United Corrosion Technologies, and will be supported with service centers in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Jordan along with distributors such as The Kanoo Group. Cortecs products include liquids, powders, impregnated foams/films and high-performance coatings. They are formulated to control multi-metal corrosion in industrial applications, including highly aggressive environments.

N.C. Draws Italian Blender

Lubrimetal of Italy will invest $1.9 million over the next three years developing a plant in North Carolina to produce wet and dry lubricants for steel and nonferrous wire drawing. The new facility, expected to create 19 jobs, will allow Lubrimetal to meet growing market demand in North America for wire drawing lubricants, said the North Carolina governors office.

Founded in 1959 and based in Vercurago, Italy, Lubrimetals products include calcium based, sodium based and other dry lubricants; oils and greases for wire drawing; emulsifiable oils for wet wire drawing; and corrosion inhibitors. Its brands include Lubrifil dry lubricants and Lubriol wet drawing oils.

Dover Settles with EPA

Dover Chemical, Dover, Ohio, will pay $1.4 million to the EPA to settle claims that it produced short-chain chlorinated paraffins (CP) without filing the proper pre-manufacture notices, as required by the Toxic Substances Control Act. CPs are used in cutting fluids to provide extreme-pressure protection, and typically are classified by carbon chain length: short (C10 to C13), medium (C14-C17), and long-chain (C18-C38). Short-chain CPs are deemed a human health hazard, and are no longer manufactured by Dover.

Dover stated it has manufactured CPs for well over 40 years (predating the enactment of TSCA), and had filed all the required paperwork. It said it settled with EPA to resolve the issue, without any finding or admission of liability on the part of Dover.

Learn from Base Oil Experts

Refining industry veteran Terrence Hoffman has joined the roster of experts working with Amy Claxton of My Energy to conduct specialized training, in cooperation with the ICIS Base Oils group. Hell teach next months courses, Base Oils I and II, May 22-23 in Miami.

Designed for both industry newcomers and those needing to refresh their understanding of the field, the courses include basic and intermediate training in base oils, an introductory course in refining, and another focusing on finished lubricant formulations, Claxton notes. Courses also are slated June 25-26 in Singapore, in conjunction with the ICIS Asian Base Oils & Lubricants Conference. Registration fees range from $1,399 to $1,699 per course, with discounts available for multiple registrations. For agendas, dates and registration details, see Oil Refining and Base Oils Training at www.icistrainingsite.com.

Engine Oils to Propel Synlubes

Overall demand for synthetic lubricants and functional fluids is forecast to climb 8.6 percent per year to hit $7.4 billion in value in 2015, according to a new study from the Cleveland-based market research firm Freedonia. Products rising the most in value will be engine oils, with 12.4 percent average annual growth from 2010 to 2015, and transmission and hydraulic fluids (11.5 percent). Metalworking fluids, dielectric fluids and heat transfer fluids also will surge in value but to a lesser degree, suggests the study, Synthetic Lubricants & Functional Fluids.

In terms of volume, the report says demand will total 625 million gallons in 2015, representing annual gains of 3.4 percent. Much of the gain will come because equipment manufacturers such as GM, Toyota and Honda are embracing the use of synthetic fluids, as they move to globalize their specifications.

The study also looks at raw materials used to formulate the products. It observes that glycol fluids – the leading category in 2010 thanks to their use in the large antifreeze segment – will see decline as that market matures and automotive designs shift to extended flush intervals and fill-for-life components. By contrast, rapid growth is expected for API Group III base oil and polyalphaolefins.

The 282-page study is available for $4,900. Website: www.freedonia group.com

Briefly Noted

Noco Distribution LLC, part of Tonawanda, N.Y.-based Noco Inc., has acquired three lubricant distribution warehouses from Windward Petroleum. Located in Youngwood, Erie, and Ridgeway, Pa., the facilities serve customers in western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia. All former Windward employees at the sites have joined Noco Distribution, which markets ExxonMobil, Petro-Canada and its own private-label lubricants.

California-based Amyris, Inc., which makes base oils from farnesene molecules, has secured over $83 million of additional funding, via a private stock sale and debt. Among the investors are Temasek Holdings; Total Gas & Power USA; SAS; an affiliate of NAXOS Capital Partners; and Biolding Investment, which is owned by Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa Al-Thani of Qatar.

Kyowa Hakko Chemical Americas, of Schaumburg, Ill., has adopted the name KH Neochem Americas on April 1. Its Japanese parent also adopted the name KH Neochem on that date.

Shell France is financing $13.4 million of the cost to restart Petroplus Holdings Petit Couronne refinery, but there are no plans to restart its 7,300 barrels per day base oil plant. Shell sold the refinery to Petroplus in early 2008, and the owner filed for insolvency in January.

Resolute Oil LLC, of League City, Texas, has signed a three-year agreement with Enterprise Products Pasadena Products Terminals. The facility, located on the south shore of the Houston Ship Channel, offers barge, rail and tank truck access and flexi-bag filling, along with dedicated storage for specialty oils and fluids. Dan Schramm, Resolute Oil president, noted that the extended lease covers assets and services formerly managed by predecessor company Bigler Specialty Oil, and brings stability to his business, its suppliers and customers.

FCC Environmental has begun engineering and site preparation work for its $50 million Group II base oil rerefinery project in Baltimore, aiming for construction to commence this fall and start-up in mid-2013. Plans call for a plant that will process 40 million gallons of used motor oil annually, and make up to 30 million gallons of base oil.

Faces in the News

Colin Parfitt has been named vice president of sales and marketing at Chevron Oronite, taking over April 1 from Andy Tugendhat, who retired after more than 20 years with the additive company. Parfitt joined Chevron in 1995 and advanced through various assignments, including vice president of finished lubricants and, most recently, vice president of Americas products West, responsible for Chevron and Texaco branded fuels sales.

Simon Morton has joined Rhein Chemie as technical manager Americas. With more than 22 years in the industry, he will head Rhein Chemies new laboratory in Pittsburgh, Pa. At the companys lube oil additives headquarters in Mannheim, Andreas Martin has been appointed global head of product management, and Stefan Limbach is now head of marketing and sales. Limbach previously was regional sales manager for the business in South East Asia, a role now filled by Terry Chan.

Engine fluids expert Brent Calcut recently moved from Detroit Diesel to join Afton Chemicals OEM technical liaison team in Detroit, where he will focus on passenger car and heavy-duty diesel lubricants. Prior to Detroit Diesel, Calcut was with General Motors fuels and lubricants group. He holds bachelors and masters degrees in chemical engineering from Wayne State.

Albemarle Corp. tapped John Steitz as president and COO, to oversee all operations including manufacturing, supply chain, sales and HSE. He joined the specialty chemical company in 2000, and most recently was its executive vice president and COO.

Paul Bennett

Paul A. Bennett, 90, of St. Johns, Mich., died Feb. 28. After serving in World War II as a U.S. Navy pilot, Bennett earned bachelors and masters degrees in mechanical engineering. He went on to a 45-year career as an automotive engineer, focusing on petroleum product performance for companies including General Motors, Rohm and Haas (later RohMax), Cummins Engine and ASTM. He invented the PCV valve – now standard emissions equipment on cars worldwide – and led the development of several key engine oil tests and formulations at Cummins, spurring the use of multigrade heavy-duty oils. An SAE Fellow, Bennett also founded ASTMs Test Monitoring Center, and was tapped by the U.S. Army, engine manufacturers and others for his expertise. Predeceased by his wife Ruth and son Randy, he is survived by two sisters, three children, and a number of grandchildren and great grandchildren.

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