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GF-6 First Use Estimated

First allowable use for ILSAC GF-6, North Americas new passenger car engine oil specification that has been in the works for over seven years, is expected to be May 1, 2020. A ballot on final adoption was anticipated for the week of April 8.

At the April 3Automotive Oil Advisory Panel meeting, stakeholders agreed on the final test limits, including those for the Sequence IVB wear test. Attendees also settled on viscosity grade read-across rules for the Sequence IIIH test for oil thickening and piston deposits.

The new spec will be divided into two: ILSAC GF-6B for SAE XW-16 oils and GF-6A for other legacy viscosity grades.

Nine to 12 months after first allowable use, ILSAC GF-6 will be mandatory for all light-duty engine oils bearing the ILSAC starburst trademark.

Aramco to Buy Sabic

Saudi Aramco reached an agreement in March to buy a 70 percent stake in Sabic, one of the worlds largest chemical companies.

The proposed $69 billion transaction is part of Aramcos ongoing effort to expand its downstream and petrochemicals businesses. Both companies supply a variety of materials used by the lubricants industry.

On April 1, Aramco published a prospectus for a $10 billion bond sale that would partly finance the acquisition. In the prospectus, the state-run oil company reported profits of $111 billion for 2018, which would make it by far the largest company in the world.

Riyadh-based Sabic, which has production facilities on several continents, makes diethanolamines, monoethanolamines, a variety of fatty acids and OXO alcohols such as 2-ethylhexanol, all of which are used in lubricants.

Sabic is currently owned by Saudi Arabias Public Investment Fund. Aramco said it hopes to complete the acquisition of its 70 percent stake in 2021.

Fire and Floods Disrupt Shipping

Traffic through the Houston ship channel was stopped following a three-day chemical fire that began on March 17 at Intercontinental Terminal Co.s Deer Park, Texas, terminal. At the time of writing, ITCs terminal remained closed.

The shutdown upset the busy base oil traffic flow for nearby terminals, as well, including the Vopak terminal next to ITC, according to Joe Rousmaniere, director of business development at Chemlube International, a base oil trader and distributor.

ITCs terminal has 231 tanks storing base stocks as well as a variety of other chemicals, fuels and feedstocks. The fire involved eight tanks that collapsed, and several other tanks were impacted.

Due to risk of further explosions, on March 22 the United States Coast Guard shut down a portion of the Houston ship channel between Dow (Tucker Bayou) and the San Jacinto Monument to Crystal Bay, influencing all routes out of the U.S. A restricted number of vessels had been permitted to move in daylight hours, with the first night passages being attempted at the time of writing in early April.

Also in March, flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers forced United States Midwest lubricant companies to fall back on contingency plans for shipping as railways became submerged.

Union Pacific and BNSF railways placed embargoes that stopped railcar shipments already en route and prevented new shipments from being loaded until the embargo was lifted. On March 25, Union Pacific opened its Columbus Subdivision in Nebraska with speed restrictions on the route, but warned of continuing delays.

Other subdivisions in Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas were still affected at the time of writing.

More CTL in China

G-TiBase Oil Technology, a joint venture between Inner Mongolia-based Yitai Coal and base oil distributor Jiyang Petrochemical Group, will open a 200,000-ton-per-year coal-to-liquids base oil plant in China in 2022.

According to its website, Yitai already operates a pilot plant that is serving as a demonstration project. Jiyang Petrochemical Group distributes base oils and manages a 30,000-ton storage facility in Zhuji, China.

G-TiBase Oil would join a growing list of coal-to-liquids base oil suppliers in the country. Naco Synthetics and Chinese coal company Luan Group opened a polyalphaolefin plant in 2015 that uses coal-to-liquids feedstock, and the Shanxi Luan Group opened a CTL plant last year that makes PAO and API Group III base stocks.

Chinas central government has encouraged CTL mega-projects as part of a national energy strategy that decreases reliance on imports of petroleum products.

Association Contests Indonesian Standard

The Association of Indonesian Lubricants Distributors, Importers and Producers (Perdippi) is taking legal actions to try to nullify a mandatory national lubricant standard, SNI, scheduled to take effect Sept. 11.

Perdippi-which has 125 members, including ExxonMobil, Chevron, BM1, STP, Total and others-submitted an application to the countrys Supreme Court on Feb. 8 requesting judicial review of the validity of the ministerial decree for SNI.

The organization claims the SNI requirement is unnecessary because the existing Registered Lubricant Number (NPT) regulation already controls the quality of lubricants sold in the country.

The SNI regulation, number 25/2018, also requires lubricant blenders to meet certain administrative requirements such as designation of an in-country brand representative for foreign players. Upon approval, they will also be required to include the SNI logo on their products. The standards requirements apply to lubricants for 2- and 4-stroke gasoline engines, high-speed diesel engines, wheels, axles and manual gearboxes, as well as automatic transmissions.

The Product Certification Institute will be responsible for issuing SPPT-SNI certifications, and compliance will be enforced by the National Standard­ization Agency of Indonesia.

Fuchs Acquires Australian Blender

Fuchs Petrolub signed an agreement to acquire independent lubricant blender Nulon Products Australia, an expansion into the competitive retail market for automotive lubes down under. Terms were not disclosed.

Family-owned, 39-year-old Nulon manufactures lubricants, coolants and additives for the automotive aftermarket sector. Nulon-branded products generate sales revenue of about 40 million Australian dollars (U.S. $28 million) a year.

Nulon and Fuchs are each expanding manufacturing facilities in Australia. Fuchs last year opened a new, larger lubricant blending plant in Beresfield, New South Wales, and is expanding its grease plant in Victoria state. Nulon last year lodged plans with the NSW state planning authority to build a $10 million, 11,000-square-meter production and warehousing facility in western Sydney to replace its smaller existing factory.

Fuchs said the takeover is expected to be finalized at the beginning of the April-June quarter.

The Mannheim, Germany-based independent lubricants blender also expanded its operations in Kaiserslautern, Germany, doubling warehouse capacity and creating space to increase production. The site mainly produces lubricants for special applications, which Fuchs describes as high-performance lubricants, greases and release agents used in demanding applications, such as food and beverage processing, rail transportation, wind power and glass manufacturing.

The 16 million euro ($18.1 million) project includes a fully automated storage and retrieval warehouse and two new production halls, which allow future production capacity expansions to the site. The renovated site also includes expanded research and development laboratories.

ExxonMobil Shares Singapore Details

ExxonMobil said last month that it has made a final investment decision to proceed with a multi-
billion dollar expansion of its refining facilities in Singapore and that the project will increase the companys capacity to make API Group II base oils by 1 million metric tons per year.

This will come on top of a Group II upgrade already underway, involving a 678,000 API Group I plant on the island of Pulau Ayer Chawan, which will give the plant 300,000 t/y of Group II capacity and is scheduled to be completed before July 2023.

The second expansion also involves the Pulau Ayer Chawan plant, and is anticipated to open in 2023.

ExxonMobil also operates a 1.6 million t/y Group II plant in Jurong Industrial Estate, on the main island of Singapore.

The U.S.-based energy giant has undertaken a string of Group II projects in recent years. In 2015, it completed 300,000 t/y expansions in Singapore and in Baytown, Texas. Earlier this year, it opened a 1 million t/y Group II plant in Rotterdam.

Finnish Rerefiner Enters Russian Market

Finnish rerefiner STR Tecoil Oyplans to start collecting and processing waste lubricants in Russia by the end of this year to produce base oils.

The first operation will be focused on setting up a collection system in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region in Northwest Russia, then it will expand into other regions.

STR Tecoil aims to collect 10,000 tons of used oil per year in that region.

The Russian waste lubricants market is the largest in Europe. It is estimated that about 1.2 million tons of used lubes are generated annually. STR Tecoil found that only 5 percent of used oil in the country is processed for production of base oils.

The collected oil will be shipped to STR Tecoils rerefinery in Hamina, Finland, which can process 60,000 t/y of used oil to make API Group II base oils, as well as bitumen and gas oil. The company confirmed that if its St. Petersburg operation is successful, its further plans include construction of a rerefinery in Russia.

The company also acquired the used oil collection business of Fortum, a Finnish company in the renewable energy sector. STR Tecoil is the largest rerefiner in Finland, and with this acquisition, holds 50 percent of the used oil collection in the country.

Briefly Noted

Japans Idemitsu Kosan Co. and Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K. merged on April 1, becoming the second-largest lubricant supplier in Japan.

Cincinatti, Ohio-based RelaDyne acquired Jasper, Alabama-based lubricants distributor Jasper Oil.

Transamerica Lubricants is distributing products from Santa Ana, California-based Maverix Solutions Inc. in Mexico.

Baltimore, Maryland-based Origin Americas LLC completed the acquisition of Channelview, Texas-based Flex Oil Service LLC and Safeway Oil Recovery -known together as Flex Oil-which collects used automotive oil.

S-Oil appointed Lube Expert as distributor in East Malaysia for its S-Oil 7 lubricants.

Tianjin, China-based TEDA Energy and Aurun Petrochemical signed an agreement to co-develop lubricant products.

Dubai-based lubricant manufacturer Dana Lubricants Factory designated Petrogress International as the exclusive distributor of its products in Western Africa.

Infineum appointed Brenntag Group subsidiary Multisol Europe as its distributor of lubricant products in Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, effective March 1.

Faces in the News

Mike Clark is now president of Pilot Chemical while continuing to serve as chief operating officer. Mike Bizzarro has been named director of manufacturing, in addition to his current role as manager of the Middletown, Ohio, manufacturing site. Kate Slyman is now regional sales manager for the Northeast.

Hydrodecs CEO David Dinwoodie succeeded Michael Pitcher as president of Hydrodec of North America.

Elena Scaltritti is division leader of industrial chemicals for Songwon Industrial Co., which includes its lubricants business.She has also been appointed a member of the executive committee. Gerard Mulqueen now leads the fuel & lubes business unit.

Glen Zimmerman joined Canoil Canada Ltd as senior sales representative, Canada and USA, focusing on expanding the calcium sulfonate grease business in the U.S. He previously held positions with Kleen Performance Products and Safety Kleen.

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