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ExxonMobil to Add LAO Plant

A new linear alpha olefins unit that ExxonMobil expects to open in 2022 at its Baytown, Texas, refinery should reduce the companys reliance on competitors for LAO as a feedstock for making polyalphaolefins.

The $2 billion expansion project will include an LAO unit expected to produce about 350,000 metric tons per year. The LAO plant will have global distribution capability.

ExxonMobil has PAO plants in Baytown and Beaumont, Texas, and in Gravenchon, France. The company would not say if it plans to use Baytown LAOs in its PAO business.

ExxonMobil is the only one of the top three PAO producers-the others being Chevron Phillips Chemical and Ineos-without backward integration into decene and dodecene LAO feedstock, according to Stephen B. Ames, of SBA Consulting in Pepper Pike, Ohio. Merchant sellers of LAO include Shell Chemical, Ineos and Chevron Phillips Chemical.

Puma In, Petrobras Out

The new owner of a blending plant in Avellaneda, Argentina, has entered a contract to make lubricants for Puma Energy, and that means the facility will no longer blend for Brazil-based Petrobras.

Petroleum products supplier Trafiguraacquired the plant in June 2018 as part of a larger transaction with Argentinian energy company Pampa Energia and is scheduled to begin blending Puma-branded lubes at the end of July.

The plant produces 13,500 metric tons of finished lubes per year, but Singapore-based Puma and Trafigura plan to increase that amount under an agreement to jointly market in Argentina.

The current production represents five percent of the Argentinian market, Puma Argentina General Manager Martin Biercamp said. But that is only one-third of the plants capacity, and we plan to acquire a 15 percent market share by 2021.

Petrobras declined to say if it will continue to market lubricants in Argentina or if it has found another plant in the country to make its products.

Fuchs Steps Out in Asia-Pacific

German independent lube maker Fuchs Petrolub SE has acquired Australian retail automotive brand Nulon. The move is a departure for the family-owned business template, which is largely a business-to-business brand serving industrial, transportation and mining groups across the globe.

Nulon is a 39-year-old, privately owned local blender and packager of hundreds of products for the automotive aftermarket.

We will continue now with a two-brand strategy: the Fuchs brand in the B2B and trade market and the Nulon brand, which is a very strong retail brand, said Wayne Hoiles, managing director of Fuchs Lubricants (Australasia).

Also in April, Fuchs announced the opening of its new lubricants blending plant in Wujiang in Chinas Jiangsu province. The plant has 100,000 metric tons per year of production capacity in its first phase, almost double that of the Shanghai plant that it will replace.

Construction began in 2017 with an investment of 46 million euros (U.S. $51.2 million today). The factory was planned to have eight automated filling lines, 31 blenders and 55 tanks, and can produce automotive oils, industrial oils, metalworking fluids, corrosion preventatives, rolling oils, coating materials and products for the forging industry.

Moresco Opens Plant in India

Japans specialty lubricant manufacturer Moresco Corp. will begin operations at its new lubricant plant in India in June in an effort to expand its overseas market share amid a slowdown in the global economy.

With the influence of the trade war between China and the U.S., the outlook for the world economy continues to be uncertain. Although the production of automotives in Japan remained firm, the slowdown in the Chinese economy is affecting company growth, Moresco said in its financial statement for 2018.

The 1 billion Japanese yen (U.S. $9 million) plant-located in Ahmedabad city, western India-has the capacity to produce 10,000 tons per year of lubricants and hot melt adhesives. The plant will primarily make lubricants for hot forging and metal cutting fluids.

Mitsui to Double Additive Capacity

Japans Mitsui Chemicals expects to start commercial production in February 2021 at its second plant making Lucant brand synthetic fluids, which are used mainly as viscosity modifiers in automotive and industrial lubricants and greases.

The facility, which will be in Chibas Ichihara city, will have production capacity of 20,000 metric tons per year, according to an August 2018 announcement. The company has production capacity of about 18,000 t/y at its existing plant in Iwakuni-Ohtake Works facility in Yamaguchi Prefecture, western Japan.

Wickliffe, Ohio-based lubricant additive supplier Lubrizol signed a deal in 2014 to be the exclusive marketer of Lucant products to the lubricants industry worldwide, while Mitsui Chemicals markets the product for plastics and resins applications.

Serbian Base Oil Plan Shelved

Russian oil major Gazprom Neftconfirmed that plans to build a base oil plant at a Novi Sad, Serbia, refinery owned by its subsidiary have been postponed indefinitely.

An industry analyst said it is possible the refinery may close due to low domestic sales and a lack of funds or enthusiasm on the part of Gazprom Neft. The Russian company has a controlling stake in NIS, the Petroleum Industry of Serbia, which operates the Novi Sad refinery.

This refinery will wait for better times, and we do not give up hope on it. At the moment, we operate a small lubricants blending plant and some storage facilities there, said Kirill Tyrudenev, general director of NIS.

In 2008, when Gazprom Neft bought a controlling stake in NIS, one of the main stipulations of the deal was modernization of both refineries. In 2013, management presented a plan to construct a base oil plant in Novi Sad with capacity to produce 180,000 to 200,000 metric tons per year of paraffinic and naphthenic base oils, with a target opening date of 2015. This plan was never brought to fruition.

Avista Changes Ownership Structure

German base oil rerefiner Avista Oil AG changed its ownership structure after Bitburger Holding GmbH bought a 45 percent stake of the company from the two existing shareholders, Core Link GmbH and Nord Holding, which are leaving the company.

The value of the deal was not disclosed, and the transaction is subject to German antitrust authority approval.

Another shareholder, Skion GmbH, increased its stake from 35 percent to about 45 percent. The rest of the companys shares (10 percent) remain in the hands of Dr. Weinberger Management & Consult GmbH.

Core Link has significantly shaped and driven our growth in Europe and the United States. Due to age, the shareholder representatives involved have recommended that the future growth projects should be accompanied by a new investor in order to enable us to achieve long-term and sustainable further growth, Avista Oil told LubesnGreases.

The company said that Skion, together now with Bitburger, will continue to be an anchor shareholder of Avista Oil.

Aceto Sells Performance Chemicals Business

Port Washington, New York-based Aceto sold its performance chemicals business, which supplies lubricant additives, to New York investment firm New Mountain Capitals affiliate NMC Atlas L.P. for $411 million.

The purchase follows a court-supervised sale process conducted under Section 363 of the United States Bankruptcy Code and is expected to close by the end of the second quarter.

The deal was originally announced Feb. 19-the same day Aceto filed a voluntary petition under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the District of New Jersey-with a price tag of $338 million.

Through its performance chemicals business, Aceto supplies corrosion inhibitors and antioxidants to lubricant manufacturers. During the first quarter of this year, the segment enjoyed a 4.8 percent jump in sales to $44.7 million.

Distribution Briefs

Infineum U.S.A. L.P.appointed J.A.M. Distributing, a Brenntag Group company, as its sole distributor in the United States and Canada effective May 1. The agreement extends an existing partnership that saw Multisol, another Brenntag unit, appointed as Infineums distributor in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America.

Palmer Holland, which already distributed Lanxess additives in North America, will now carry the German companys base stocks, additives and finished fluids, including brands it gained as part of its 2017 acquisition of Chemtura.

Hamburg, Germany-based Krahn Chemie will expand its distribution to Austria of Lanxess biocides, antimicrobial agents and preservatives.

ExxonMobil Chemical Co. selected Industy, California-based Norman, Fox & Co. to distribute its PAO products in the Western United States.

ExxonMobil Asia Pacific selected automotive retail specialist MotorActive as its authorized lubricants distributor in Australia.

Fort Washington, Pennsylvania-based lubricants distributor PetroChoice acquired Mobil lubricants distributor Superior Petroleum of Crown Point, Indiana.

Pilot Thomas Logistics and Northeast Lubricants will distribute Castrol lubricants throughout southern New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. will sell its base oil to Indian Oil Corp. under a long-term agreement, and Xiamen, China-based Sinolook Oil Co. will distribute base oils for Adnoc.

Faces in the News

Valentina Serra-Holm joined Indianapolis, Indiana-based Calumet Specialty Products Partners as vice president of global product marketing, effective May 6. Her most recent position was director of global marketing and technology for Nynas.

Jan Lee, marketing and communications manager, Asia Pacific for Chevron Oronite, retired in April.

Chevron Phillips Chemical announced Mitch Eichelberger will become senior vice president of corporate planning and technology effective June 1. Eichelberger succeeds Dave Smith, who is retiring.

Lanxess has appointed Anno Borkowsky to its board of management, effective June 1. He will take responsibility for the Specialty Additives segment. He had been head of the Additives business unit.

Schaeffers Specialized Lubricants appointed Larry Hofstetter as president in April. Hofstetter succeeds Jay Schaeffer Shields, who will remain as CEO.

Mark Miller joined Biosynthetic Technologies as CEO in February. Bruce Marley, who was senior vice president-sales and marketing, left the company on March 31.

Amalie Oils Dennis J. Madden has retired as senior vice president for global sales and marketing. Rick Barkett is now SVP for global sales in addition to his role as COO. Michelle L. Barkett will take over the companys marketing. Andrew A. Bornstein is vice president for strategic enterprises, a new position. Kenneth J. Holder is vice president for North American sales.

Steven Holland, CEO of Brenntag AG, will retire when his current contract ends in February 2020.

Melanie West has been promoted to director, supply chain, a new position at MFG Chemical. Previously, Melanie served as manager, materials & scheduling.

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