Market Topics



Fast Lubes a $9.8B Market

The number of U.S. fast lubes reached 17,063 – up 1,058 stores from a year ago – according to the 2013 Tops in the Industry Ranking by National Oil & Lube News.

In March, the trade magazine estimated industry sales in the U.S. will reach $9.8 billion this year, a $1.1 billion increase from 2012. As of Feb. 28, Jiffy Lube was still the leader with 1,962 stores, up 1 percent from 2012. The next largest quick-lube chains included Valvoline Instant Oil Change (896 stores, up 9 percent from 2012), Pennzoil 10-Minute Oil Change (750 stores), Kwik Kar (393, one store more), and Valvoline Express Care (336 stores). The biggest gain was at New York-based Grease Lightning, which has 47 stores. It grew by 161 percent and expects to open 23 more stores by year end.

EC Probes Harburg Deal

The European Commission is investigating Nynas proposed acquisition of Shells base oil plant in Harburg, Germany, after hearing concerns that the deal would eliminate naphthenic base oils competition in Europe. In December 2011, Swedens Nynas said it would take a 25-year lease on Shell Deutschlands naphthenic and paraffinic base oil plant in Harburg. The plant has 3,000 barrels per day of naphthenic capacity and 3,300 b/d of API Group I paraffinic base oil capacity.

No other competitor would remain to supply naphthenic oils for use in some end applications such as insoluble sulphur, industrial rubber, fertilizers, additives, and defoamers, the EC noted. And in markets such as industrial greases, metalworking fluids and transformer oils, the few pale oil competitors who import into the European Economic Area may not exercise a sufficient competitive constraint, it added.

The commission has until Aug. 8 to make its final decision on the deal.

Chemtura: More PAO Soon

Chemtura is on track to complete an expansion of its high-viscosity polyalphaolefin capacity in Ankwerweg, Amsterdam, Netherlands, in the years second half, Chemtura President, CEO and Chairman Craig Rogerson told investors in March. PAO is used to make synthetic lubricants.

The company also will benefit from synthetic grease capacity coming on line later in the year in our Nantong, China facility, he added. The Nantong facility, announced in 2011, will be a multipurpose manufacturing plant serving Chemturas petroleum additives and urethanes businesses. Its output will include synthetic refrigeration lubricants, air compressor lubricants and gear oils, and calcium sulfonate complex greases.

Smittys Sued over THF

A small business owner in Texas sued Smittys Supply and its distributor Atwood Distributing in February, alleging they sold defective, inadequately tested tractor hydraulic fluid that destroyed a logging tractor.

Truck owner-operator Harvey Heisler claims the hydraulic fluid made by Smittys and sold by Atwood was defective and had been made with reconditioned, reclaimed, used or secondhand base oil ingredients. The suit alleges that the fluid had not been adequately tested nor properly additized, and was ultimately not compatible with the type of use for which it was marketed and sold.

Smittys said the alleged mechanical breakdown is the result of misuse, noting that 303 specification fluids have not been recommended by equipment manufacturers since the mid 1970s. Smittys alleged that Heisler admitted to the company that he used the fluid in a 2000 model year John Deere.

Gulf Oil Opens UAE Lube Plant

Gulf Oil recently fired up production at a new Ras Al-Khaimah plant in the United Arab Emirates. The operation is slated to produce 10,800 metric tons a year of grease and 20,000 t/y of lubricants, targeted to markets in the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and eastern Europe. Cost of the project was not disclosed.

Frank Rutten, Gulfs international vice president, told Lube Report that once fully functioning, the 11-acre site will have a staff of 114 and make both automotive and industrial lubricants and greases including lithium, lithium complex, aluminum complex and bentonite. The plant was designed with expansion in mind, and could grow to four times its current size, he said.

The facility represents a joint venture between Gulf Oil, the government of Ras Al-Khaimah, and Standard Greases & Specialties Pvt. Ltd., Indias largest private-label grease manufacturer. Hyderabad, India-based Gulf Oil is part of conglomerate Hinduja Group.

Brenntag Buys Lube Distributor

German chemical distributor Brenntag has bought U.S. lubricant distributor Lubrication Services LLC for $42 million. The acquired company has a market position, expertise and infrastructure that will allow us to further increase our participation in the expected rapid growth related to the shale plays, said Anthony Gerace, executive vice president of Brenntag North America.

Oklahoma City-based Lubrication Services is a multi-regional distributor of lubricants and chemicals serving the oil and gas industry. It has facilities in Wyoming, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado and Texas. It markets industrial, commercial and automotive lubricants for brands including ExxonMobil, Phillips 66, Citgo, Houghton, Summit and Camco.

Lonza Picks Monson

Lonzas Materials Protection business has named Leominster, Mass.-based Monson Cos. as its distributor for the lubricants and metalworking fluids markets throughout the United States. These Lonza products and preservatives include Densil and Triadine antimicrobials; Omacide and Sodium Omadine fungicides; and Proxel preservatives. Bill Perry, Lonzas distributor channel manager for industrial applications in Atlanta, said, We are delighted to be working with the Monson Companies across the U.S. in these markets and believe the combined efforts of Lonza and Monson will deliver a superior level of value for our customers.

Oxiteno Surfactants Flow in Texas

Oxiteno, part of the Brazilian company Ultrapar, confirmed it has started up production of specialty surfactants at a plant it bought and retrofitted in Pasadena, Texas. The company said more capacity will be added at the site to further support its surfactants business and product portfolio for the NAFTA region. The Pasadena site, acquired in April 2012, will reach its annual capacity of 32,000 tons of specialty surfactants later this year.

Looking beyond the current ethoxylates capacity, Oxiteno aims to invest another $100 million in the NAFTA region over the next 18 months to expand capacity by 100,000 tons in Pasadena and in Coatzacoalcos, Mexico.

Soltex Taps Univar for PIB Sales

Soltex Inc. named Univar USA, of Redmond, Wash., as national distributor for its polybutenes, effective March 1. The products include PIBs in molecular weights from 350 to 2600 which are used in automotive and industrial lubricants; as tackifiers in lubricating greases; to make detergent additives; and also in adhesives.

Univar USA and Soltex Inc. have shared a business relationship for the past several years and are eager to grow together further, said Bill Wahl, distributor manager for Houston-based Soltex. He added that Univars extensive knowledge and experience with polybutene and derivatives, and over 80 locations nationwide, enable them to provide a high level of technical and sales support to customers.

Symposium to Explore Fire-safe Fluids

A symposium on fire-resistant fluids will be held June 24 in Montreal, in conjunction with the twice-yearly standards meeting of ASTM Committee D02 on Petroleum Products and Lubricants. Fire is a major hazard in many industrial, transportation and military applications, requiring the use of approved fire-resistant fluids. But are industry trends, such as higher performance, lower system fluid volumes and higher operating temperatures, increasing the potential for fire in some applications? This technical forum aims to examine these trends, and the development, classification, use and monitoring of fire-resistant fluids. Co-chairing the symposium are John Sherman of BASF and Lubrizols Betsy J. Butke. Registration is free for ASTM members, presenters and students. Cost for non-ASTM members is $50 online and $75 on site. Details: www.

Briefly Noted

Milacron LLC, the Cincinnati-based parent of Cimcool Fluid Technology and a leading provider of premium metalworking fluids, completed its acquisition of hot-runner systems maker Mold-Masters in late March, paying $950 million. The acquisition was backed by affiliates of private equity firm CCMP Capital Advisors, and boosted Milacrons offerings for the plastics processing industry.

Base stocks from Shell and Qatar Petroleums joint-venture gas-to-liquids plant in Qatar are finding an outlet as process oils. Shell, which markets the plants GTL base oils, has agreed to supply Risella X process oils to Kraiburg TPE, a German company that will use them to make premium thermoplastic elastomers.

Israel-based chemical company ICL acquired Thermphos Internationals additive-component phosphorus penta-sulfide business in Knapsack, Germany.

Advanced Refining Technologies will sell Chevron Lummus Globals lube catalysts to CLG licensees and others for unit refills.

Faces in the News

Jyrki Maki-Kala has been named Neste Oils chief financial officer and a member of its executive board, effective May 6. He joins Neste Oil from Kemira, where he was CFO and deputy CEO, and previously has worked for Finnish Chemicals.

Following the retirements of Vice President of Supply Sara Lefcourt and Vice President of Technology Mark Struglinski, additives maker Infineum restructured its corporate leadership team on April 1. It appointed Trevor Russell as executive vice president, sales and supply (two previously separate units), and moved the position to Singapore, reflecting the growing importance of Asia Pacific. Russell formerly was vice president for sales and marketing. Also, Chris Locke, who had managed Infineums crankcase lubricants business, became executive vice president for the newly formed marketing and technology division. Philippe Creteur continues as CFO and executive vice president for business services, and Ross Baglin as executive vice president for human resources. The four executives report to CEO Xavier le Mintier.

Christopher Deal has been hired as product line manager at Dallas-based Hydrotex Inc. With an MBA from Texas State University, Deal has over 20 years of product marketing and development experience with industries including telecom, semiconductor manufacturing, wireless, health care and consulting.

Des-Case Corp., which specializes in industrial lubrication and contamination control, hired Eddy Bock as director of international development. The 20-year veteran of the automotive industry, who has an MBA from Western Kentucky University and speaks fluent Japanese, will help Des-Case develop strategic partnerships in key markets outside the United States.

Gus Munoz is the new regional sales manager for Palmer Hollands southwestern sales region, covering Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Munoz worked for many years in specialty chemical distribution, and previously was president of NP Group in Dallas.

Ray Kaligian

Raymond Allen Kaligian III, 28, who last summer was named director of base oil sales at Phillips 66, died tragically at his home in Houston on Feb. 17, his dog Willie dying by his side, after carbon monoxide gas was released accidentally into the premises. Kaligian, a gifted athlete, award-winning scholar and graduate of Univ. of Illinois, was quickly hired by Phillips 66 to participate in its Selective Leader Development Program. Following work in Houston and West Virginia, he was promoted last summer to the base oil sales position, making him the key liaison for global suppliers. I dont ever recall a young man that has touched the hearts of so many, wrote Jim Gigante of Phillips 66. He was a rising star of Phillips 66. An only child, Kaligian is survived by his parents.

Related Topics

Market Topics